Tennis Star Sharapova: "I Don't Feel Shy to Speak About It!"

This is quite typical of the Russian mentality to strive for the top positions
Traditionally, the US Open starts in New York the last week of August. Lots of tennis fans are looking for seeing Russia's Maria Sharapova, 16. Maria has become a real discovery of this year's Wimbledon tournament and is considered to be a wonderful substitution for Anna Kournikova in the baby-girl role. Maria Sharapova told her life story to journalists craving for sensations. She was born in Siberia and later the family moved to the southern city of Sochi. When Maria was six she went to the USA together with her father. "I wanted to play tennis. My father decided that the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy offered the best conditions." Now the tennis player lives in Florida; she flies by airplane to Los Angeles to have training with her coach Robert Lansdorp.

- What was your opinion when you saw Robert Lansdorp for the first time? They say he is a man of severe temper.

When my father and I got to the tennis court Robert was talking to someone over the telephone, he paid just little attention to us. When he hung up he looked at me and asked my name. I told my name. "What Maria?" I then told my last name, and the coach seemed to like it. Then I went to the court as my father and I usually had warming-up in the courts. But the coach cried behind us that his trainees always played on the backline. This is how our work started. Robert helped me a lot; he made a fighter of me. He taught me to deliver strong and stable shots after shots. This is a required condition to beat such tennis players as Jelena Dokic.

- Do you feel American?

When I am in the US I do, but as soon as I come to Russia I feel Russian again. I hold the Russian citizenship. It is really very interesting: when I watch Olympic Games on TV and see the Russian flag is raised I always feel proud for my country. On the other hand, I've spent half of my life in America where my tennis career developed rather successfully. But I am still Russian! 

- What do you parents do?

My father is an engineer. He loves tennis very much; he is acquainted with the father of famous tennis player Yevgeny Kafelnikov. My mom is a housewife.

- When did you finish cooperating with Nick Bollettieri?

I haven't finished working with him indeed. I still attend coaching with Nick as I live close to his academy; he offers wonderful conditions for training. There are different coatings and I always have an opportunity to find a good sparring partner.

- Was it quite a problem to find such conditions when you left for the US? 

In fact, there were no conditions at all in Russia at that period. Now Russia is experiencing a rise in tennis. Look, there are many of Russian girls in the first top hundred of the best tennis players. I like this situation. We are not rivals; each of us demonstrates what she can. Russian girls are wonderfully trained and really very strong from a psychological point of view. This doesn't have to be explained to us that if you are talented you need to work hard to develop the talent. We do understand this fact. Since very childhood we have been working on the court really very hard. As for me, no matter in what tournament I take part I always think about victory. This is quite typical for the Russian mentality to strive for the top positions.

- Who usually accompanies you to tournaments?

My father is always with me; there is also an agent of course and my fitness coach. They attend all of my games and support me: sometimes my father cries something to encourage me and gives recommendations during the game.

- Do people recognize you in the street?

Yes, people already recognize me. To tell the truth, it sometimes wearies me awfully. I don't like to be always in the focus of cameras, but I have to as this is part of my job too.

- What do you do when you get tired of much attention?

I like reading. I've recently finished the last book about Harry Potter; at that I guessed from the very beginning who would die in the end of the book. I manage to have rest rather seldom as we always have trainings or tournaments. Within the past four years I have been training in California and living in Florida; this is pretty good. I have rest at home and work really very hard in California.

- Do you mean that tennis is work for you?

Yes, sure. For me it's a job as everyday office work for other people. I go to the tennis court every day, I like playing tennis.

- Will you continue playing for Russia in the future?

Yes, I will. I want to represent my country at tournaments.

- What are your most cherished dream and main objective in tennis?

I want to become the world's first racket.

- This is not a modest dream at all.

I think this is a normal dream in fact. Do you know a tennis player who doesn't have the same objective as I have? Many people feel shy to speak about it but I don't.

Author`s name Michael Simpson