Wimbledon Semi-Final Interview

Q. This drought against Serena, matchups are so important in all of sports, how much of this is the matchup and/or the mental side of it because it’s happened for so long now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, I always expect her to play the best tennis against myself and a few other elite players. She does always come up with great tennis. You have to be able not to just produce your best tennis, but more.
Obviously it hasn’t happened for me.

Q. Did it take you a set to settle down and get into the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I never really found myself in position to break her today. I didn’t get any looks at breakpoints, so that was quite difficult.

Q. Can you describe how hard it is when she’s serving 120 up the middle, then can serve out wide also?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, listen, that’s one of her biggest strengths. That’s one of the reasons that she’s in the position she’s in today. She’s able to come up with the goods from that serve when she’s down. Obviously when she’s ahead, it makes it a lot easier for her.
That was definitely the case in today’s match.

Q. How much thought have you given to radical changes and tactics when you play her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Like what?

Q. I don’t know. Since things have not worked for the last number of matches, what thoughts have you given to making really drastic changes in your approach to playing her tactically?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: As far as drastically, I’m not going to come out and become a serve-and-volleyer or a chip-and-charge type of player. No, you’re not going to see that from me.

Q. How about as far as positioning against her serve, what was your approach today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, I can definitely do a better job of that. There’s no doubt.

Q. When you’re in baseline rallies with her, do you feel even? Is she physically stronger there, too?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think she had better depth than I did on her shots. That certainly makes a big difference.
I think one of the things she does extremely well is to take her from a defense position into the offense again. I was not able to do that.

Q. You’re a huge competitor. You hate losing. What is the mindset because it seems like it hurts more than previous ones?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: What makes you say that?

Q. You seem more angry than last time she beat you.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: In five minutes you can see that I’m more angry?

Q. Maybe you felt the match was going better. Maybe you’re more frustrated here. I’m just wondering.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Press conferences are always about 30 minutes or 45 or an hour after a match. It’s tough to come in here after a loss as a competitor and give you many smiles or certain explanations. It happens really fast.
So, yeah, there’s not really much to say.

Q. Were you surprised at such a row over the grunts in the matches? What do you think of David Cameron’s comment today about players should bring earplugs?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Next question, please.

Q. What do you feel that you have to do to be competitive with Serena going forward?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: A lot more than I’m doing.

Q. Is she taking you out of your game or are you doing that, do you think, at times?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think when she plays against me, she certainly does that. That’s why she’s in the position she’s in. I don’t think it’s a secret. I think she knows against certain players she needs to bring out her best. The way that she plays Azarenka, myself, maybe a few others, she has to bring it on the line.
We know we have to. We’re not able to do that as consistent as she does.

Q. Now that you’re leaving the tournament, what goes in your mind right now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s never easy to be the one that’s on the losing end of an event, especially at Wimbledon. But to look at things in perspective, to see where I was just a few weeks ago, I had no idea what my result would be here.
I think for many others, maybe if I was British, a semi-final would be incredible. I’d be on the front page of the paper (laughter), I know that.
But I expect myself to be a champion of these events, and it’s disappointing to come out as a loser because I know my level can be there, and my level can be at the point of holding these championship trophies. I know that that’s what keeps me going forward.

Q. The BBC showed some graphics that suggested your ball toss has changed in recent years dramatically.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: My service motion has changed a lot. I think of all the Grand Slams I’ve won, I had different service motions. With that, I believe your ball toss changes as well.

Q. Before it was quite a strict like 33 centimeters, and now it’s like 83 centimeters.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thank you.

Q. Not something you’re thinking of addressing?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No.

Q. To quote Murray, if we’re going to talk about Britons reaching the semifinal, he said, I’m getting closer, when he lost to Federer 2012. Do you feel you’re getting closer to matching Serena?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Matching what?

Q. Getting closer to beating her.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, the result certainly doesn’t prove that yet.

Q. Patrick Mouratoglou was quoted saying that Victoria Azarenka was a much better player than you. What is your response to that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t think you’re ever going to hear nice words from him about me. I don’t expect that and I’m sure you don’t either.

Q. Why do you think that is?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m sure you know. You don’t need to ask me that.

Q. Obviously they showed the videos from 2004. That was 11 years ago. You’ve enjoyed a long career, longer than Henin, Clijsters. Do you think you’d still be here if you didn’t have the shoulder injury that maybe drove you to continue for a longer period of time?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: What do you mean, do you think I would still be here?

Q. You’ve enjoyed a longer career than most players.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right.

Q. Do you think if you enjoyed the success of 2004 without any obstacles, you’d still be here today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t know. I think everyone’s career goes in different ways and in different paths. That was just the path in which mine went.
I think everyone bases the start of my career at the win of my first Grand Slam. That was at a very young age. That makes my career look extremely long.
If I had reached success in my early 20s winning my first Grand Slam, maybe it wouldn’t look like my career would be so long.
I believe it’s all in perspective. I think at a stage where I should have been in the peak of my career, I had to go through shoulder surgery. That’s, of course, something I wouldn’t have loved to choose. I would have loved to be healthy and to go, after winning the Australian Open, to win another major.
That’s just not the way it is for athletes. Sometimes you have to go through another story. That’s just the way my career has been. I don’t regret any of it because I know every athlete has to go through those periods. Mine just came at a little earlier time than I would have liked.

Q. My question is also about your injury, which obviously was a devastating one. Few if any others have ever come back from an injury like that. Overall, how do you think that has impacted your level of play on court, stroke production, so forth?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I never like to compare myself where I was before or after because I didn’t really have a choice.
As far as my strokes or my serve, of course that has changed. Of course shoulder surgery impacts the way you play or the adjustments you have to make. There’s absolutely no doubt about it.
The looseness of my shoulder that I had when I was a 17-year-old girl is not there, and I don’t expect it ever to be there again. But those are the things that you have to accept. Just like Li Na played with a bad knee for so many years, there are things she had to go about in her career. Just like Serena, she’s gone through major injuries in her career and has had to make adjustments.
As professional athletes we always have to make adjustments in our game.

Q. After these repeated losses to Serena, do you ever think to yourself, Is there a coach perhaps, other than Richard Williams, that can get you past her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, this is not something I think about.