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Maria Sharapova 2006 US Open Interview
Saturday, September 9, 2006

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Let's make this a positive session tonight please, por favor. 

Q. Can you talk about the preparation you put into getting ready for this tournament, how rewarding this must feel 
for you to have it pay off like this?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely incredible. The first thing that comes into my mind when, you know, you go 
down on the ground and you just think of everything that you've put into this moment, and even though the moment 
is a very short time you get to be on court with that trophy, it's just so incredible. 

You know, I experienced it two years ago, and I knew that I wasn't done, I had a lot more in me. That was just the
 beginning. This is not just preparation that happened a couple weeks before the tournament; this is preparation
 that I've done ever since I was a little girl with the help of my amazing family.

Q. You talked earlier in the tournament about during the two weeks that you took off between Los Angeles and the
 US Open, how much work you did off the court, not even touching a racquet. Could you give us some detail about 
some of the things you did to help yourself. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, you know, it was basically, you know, after Wimbledon I took one week off, and came
 back to Los Angeles and I worked with one fitness coach for seven days. I probably spent maybe two or three hours
 of the day doing fitness, and maybe an hour or so hitting the ball. 

The week after that, I started playing more tennis. I played twice a day. I played some matches. You know, did a 
little bit of fitness, just alone, did some things that I took from the week before. 

I went into San Diego and I thought I moved better than I've moved in my career.

Q. How different is the feeling from winning the first Grand Slam and this one, the excitement? 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it's still I'm still pretty shocked. I'm thrilled that I got to experience another Grand 
Slam win and that it's a different Grand Slam, and the vibe is a little bit different. I mean, there's definitely nothing
 like winning your first major. But to win your second is also a, you know it's kind of like the cherry on the cake. 

But there are a lot more cherries that I'm gonna put on that cake, so I'm looking forward to having them (smiling).

Q. During the broadcast, the CBS camera showed footage of Michael Joyce holding up four fingers. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I thought this was supposed to be a positive interview.

Q. I know that's what you wanted. But it's broadcast to the nation and you haven't had a chance to respond to it. 
The implication was that there was some communication. Everyone saw it, because it was 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just won a Grand Slam. The last thing I'm gonna talk about is some fingers or a banana, 
all right? I hope you got that one, thanks. 

Q. You made a point of acknowledging Billie Jean, and you said a lot of nice words. Did you get to know her during
 the last two weeks? 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I saw her once during these two weeks, but I have very fond memories of her growing 
up. I didn't even get to see her a lot on TV. I never really watched a lot of tennis on TV, but I definitely knew who 
she was. When I started playing Junior tournaments and I was playing one of the first Grand Slams, she'd always 
come up to my parents and she'd watch some of the matches I played. She'd always she'd just be a great 
supporter of Juniors. That's not something that a lot of champions do. 
You know, she gave advice to my parents. You know, she talked to me. She acknowledged the things that I did
 well. Yeah, I honestly believe that without her, we would I mean all of us would not have this opportunity to, first 
of all, be paid the amount of money that we're getting paid, but also to have that excitement and the popularity of
 women's tennis.

Q. You said that you had to come in with a different game plan because of those four straight losses to Justine 
Henin Hardenne before this match. How were you able to kind of erase those memories of those previous matches?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: This was a new match, a new opportunity and this was the final of a Grand Slam. So the
 last thing I was worrying about was the last four times that I lost to her. You know, at this stage, in this situation, 
you don't worry about what happened in previous matches against her. 

I didn't even worry about what happened in my previous in my semifinal when I beat Amélie. I totally forgot that. 
This is a new day, a new opportunity. I went on court with that. I was just I was in a zone. I had to do my job. At
 the end of the day, I came and I lost, I just figured I did my job and tried to do everything I can to win. And, you
 know, I came and I won. 

Q. Now do you feel pretty?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel pretty darn good. 

Q. Why does the negativity seem to be getting you right now at this time? When another reporter was you asking
 you about this, that everybody saw on TV, you knew it was a banana and four fingers. Is that something you don't
 want to address negativity right now and why? 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, honestly I believe at the end of the day, personally, my life is not about a banana;
 it's not about what I wear; it's not about the friends that I have. My career right now is about winning a tennis match.
 And right now I'm sitting here as a US Open champion, and the last thing I think people need to worry about is a 
banana. 

I mean, it's kind of it's so funny that you just I mean, it's kind of it's pretty I don't know. It's just pretty funny. I don't 
know what else to say, you know. 

But at the end of the day, I'm a two time Grand Slam champion. I don't care if you talk about a banana. 

Q. This tremendous achievement you've had, to win The Open after having achieved a championship on Centre 
Court, yet the question, in all candor, it's a fair question. There's a phrase that an honest question deserves an 
honest answer. And the issue relates to fairness in the competition and the no coaching rule. It's a simple question, 
and why we're interested in it. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right, and I gave a simple answer.

Q. That you didn't want to talk about it. It had nothing to do with the match. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right.

Q. But that is part of the competitive rules, that there are no signals. It was shown that there was signaling. So that's 
what we're asking for is a direct response. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Can I ask you a question? 

Q. Of course. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Can you tell me, if someone tells me to eat a banana, do you think that's the reason why I'm
 gonna win a match? 

Q. I think 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just give me your honest opinion.

Q. I will give you an honest answer. I think there's the issue of competitive rules and 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just take the rules away, take the books away, just just think. 

Q. I'm more interested in the four fingers. What did that indicate? 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I I asked you to answer a question.

Q. Yes. I think 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think 

Q. I think it was a strategic tactical moment which contributed to your thought process in the match. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, okay.

Q. And would be my I don't know, though. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: This is great advice. We should tell all the players to, you know, have a banana and they're
 all gonna win. Great. 

Q. That's not the issue. It's not a flippant question. It's just what 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: All right. Let's move on. That's the last thing 

Q. Maria, no fruit involved 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Great (laughing). 

Q. Seemed like you were serving an awful lot to her forehand. That really paid off. Was that part of the game plan? 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, no, not necessarily, no. I wanted to mix it up. I wanted to mix up the pace of my 
serve. I wanted to give her different looks on my serve. Nothing no. 

I mean, I did that good against Amélie, you know. I thought I didn't serve well in my previous matches before the
 semifinal, and I knew, you know, in my mind, I knew that was one thing that I needed, that was gonna help me a 
lot in a match against, you know, some of the top players that you play. Yeah, I think I served very well. 

Q. First, congratulations for the great run. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thank you.

Q. Your dad said he felt very relaxed before the final and he was sure that you would win. How did you feel before
 the final in that regard? 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I felt like I came into the match, and I actually did feel pretty relaxed. You know, 
although I lost the first two games and I got broken early in the first set, I didn't really I didn't really worry about it.
 I was pretty positive about the whole thing. 

You know, I don't know. I really didn't feel nervous, you know. You know, I woke up, I was excited to be in the final
 of a Grand Slam, and, yeah, that's I just thought I, you know, would enjoy the opportunity, enjoy the moment of it, 
keep fighting until the end. That's what I did.

Q. Were you sure that you would win? 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, definitely I wasn't sure that I was gonna lose, you know (laughing). 

Yeah, I don't know. I went into the match neutral, but I was confident. I was. 

Q. We would like to know always who you will celebrate with? Who did you call?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: My mom, that was the first person I called. And then my best friend. 

Q. I want to get another aspect of this match. You had to go into both alleys left and right to make some defensive 
plays in this match. Did you make defensive plays in this match you could not have made a year ago?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yes, definitely. Yeah. 

Q. Can you elaborate a little bit on that. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, a lot of the balls that I got today, I don't think I probably would have gotten a year ago. 
I mean, maybe if I would have gotten it, I would have, you know, been running to the woods even if I got it. Then the
 next ball would be a winner. 

But I feel like I'm able to hit those over and over again. Uhm, you know, against a player where you need to be
 patient, you need to run many balls, not only do you mentally have to be prepared for it, but physically. I definitely 
feel a lot better physically than I did last year. 

Q. When Justine won here, she called it her "Confirmation Grand Slam." This is your second. You beat Kim, 
Mauresmo, Justine, the top three in the last couple months. What does it say about your game? Does it say 
something special to you about where you've gone now? 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I guess I'm not here to compliment my own self. I'm thrilled that I just won my second major.
 At the end of the day, I'm not done yet, you know. I feel like I'm not done. I still have years to go in my career where 
I feel like I am gonna improve and I am gonna become a better player than I am today. 

But I'm absolutely thrilled, because you don't get to experience these moments every day. I think I said that's what 
you work for every single day, are these moments. Is it a confirmation? No, I honestly don't didn't feel like I needed 
to confirm anything, no. 

Q. Before today's final match, what kind of music did you hear in the warming up? What was the song? What made 
you concentrated?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was listening to the Dave Matthews Band (laughing). 

Q. Justine just a few moments ago praised you for being brave and taking a lot more 
chances than she was able to. Was that something that was your strategy from the outset, or did it evolve as the
 match developed? 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, like I said, chances are probably one of the biggest key that you have to take when 
you're playing against a top player. You know, seeing the opportunities, sensing them, and making sure it's the 
right time, you know. I made sure that, you know, when I got a short ball, I'd try to come in, put some pressure 
on her, you know. 

It honestly wasn't my game plan trying to run side to side with her and trying to beat her in the long rallies. That 
would definitely not have been smart of me. 

But, yeah, I had to take my opportunities, had to take the short balls and try to come in whenever I could.

Q. Could you tell us who the trainer you worked with in Los Angeles was?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don't want to talk because he's not my permanent trainer yet.

Q. You told the crowd that you love New York and it was your favorite city. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It is.

Q. Could you briefly say why. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, well, I came to New York for the first time when I was probably ten or eleven years 
old. I could not understand the city. I did not like anything about it. But with every year that I've been coming 
back, I've just gotten to go to different parts of the city, experience it seems like in every part of the city, it's like
 a different culture, a different way of life. I find it amazing that you could just take a 10 minute taxi ride and just
 be in a totally different environment. There's so many things to do. 

But I feel comfortable in it, you know. I don't feel like some people think it's a madhouse; I love it, because I always
 want to do things, you know. I can't just sit still and be at home and cook. Definitely not me. 

Q. You have become an American icon, that's obvious. You speak American, you spent half of your life here. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Does American exist? I speak English. I don't speak American anything.

Q. Do you feel any disconnect? Do you ever think about changing your allegiance?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I never think about that. I moved to the United States because of my tennis career, 
because of what I had to do with tennis. I still live here. I'm still training here. Yeah, I've definitely gotten accustomed 
to the way of life here, but who wouldn't, after spending more than half of their life in a country? 

Q. What's your best quality as a player? 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I don't give up, yeah. I don't like to lose, and I'm just strong mentally. 

Q. Many years ago Nike had a slogan for a commercial for Agassi, Image is everything. It became a boomerang for 
him, too. Do you think, I feel pretty, will last you long, and what do you think about it? Are you aware this could be 
a problem? 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: A problem? 

Q. For your tennis. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's been a lucky charm for me at this tournament, so hope we can keep going (laughing). 

I mean, it's kind of it's a little bit sarcastic, because if you watch the commercial, it's you know, everyone is telling 
me that I'm pretty, but the last thing that happens in the commercial is when I slam a ball and I feel darn pretty 
grunting. 

That's basically what it is. That's the hidden message in that whole commercial, you know, for girls that grow up. 
And, I mean, I said this, you can probably read one of my other interviews, but girls that grow up and they might
 be bullied or they might be, uhm girls and boys they might not feel their best. At the end of the day, it's the hard 
work and dedication and their fearlessness that goes into their career. 

Q. Did you allow yourself to dream about this winning moment at The Open and maybe the matches leading up 
to this or the days leading up to it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uh hmm.

Q. How did it compare?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Did I dream of it? 

Q. Yeah. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't dream of it. I'm not a good dreamer (laughing). But I did envision myself winning
 it, yeah, I did. 

Q. Wimbledon is your moment of triumph. Must have felt incredibly magical. Now it's been a little stretch since this
 incredible moment. You said there was a difference. Can you describe the ectasy you felt then compared to 
moment of triumph? 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Wimbledon was just it was like a shock, you know. I personally in my mind, going into every 
match, I was just I was thinking to myself, This is so weird, I should have been back home already, I should have 
been, you know, training, and here I am, I'm going out to Centre Court. I thought that before the semifinal. When I 
came back from the rain delay, I was like, Jesus, we're gonna play tomorrow, it's one day away from home. 

Then I won that match. It was just weird because I felt like it happened so fast in my career, you know. Before that, 
I mean, I was consistently doing well. My ranking was improving. But, I mean, I wasn't beating top players 
consistently. I didn't feel I mean, I wasn't French Open before Wimbledon was the first Grand Slam that I ever got into
 a quarters. I was thrilled about that. 

So it was that just that was just it just happened really, really fast, and that's why it became such a shock for me. 

Uhm, this is obviously another shock, you know. But because I've won my first Slam, I don't know how to explain the 
difference, you know. It's tough. 

Q. Have you reached a level now in terms of prize money that $1,700,000 doesn't make any difference to your life, 
or does it impress you how important is the money? This summer you said that it was very important, apparently. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's another thing that I'm not gonna get into it right now. 
But winning, you can't buy a Grand Slam title, you know? You can't buy it. There are people around the world that 
have billions of dollars, but no matter how much they want a US Open title. The only thing they can do is buy some 
good tennis racquets, get the best trainers out there, and work their butt off. Yeah, I this can't beat any sort of money, 
any sort of paper. 

Q. So what are you gonna do to celebrate, keep positive and give us something good here. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right now? 

Q. Yeah. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Going out.

Q. Tonight, tomorrow, anything really fun? 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. 

Q. Come on. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: (Laughing). Do you want to know the exact details of where I'm going to be sitting, with who? 

Q. No, no, no, not that interested. 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm sure you're not. Bull (laughing). 

Q. Is the top of the trophy dented? 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I thought to myself the second that happened, I was like, "That's typical Maria. Typical." I 
just I knew. I knew. There's always something that's gonna happen. 

But the answer to your question, I mean, I'm definitely gonna celebrate. I don't know. Everyone's surprising me. I 
don't even know where I'm going right now, but we're definitely celebrating. 

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