M. SHARAPOVA/A. Rodionova
Q. How was that for you today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, the first one's always tricky. To go out there after not competing for a couple weeks, the transition from clay to grass, I thought I started off the match really well. Had a few letdowns towards the end of both of those sets.
Overall I'm pretty happy with the way I performed, especially for a first match, not having matches coming in.
Q. How do you find the surface and the atmosphere?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it's always a very nice feeling for me to be back on Centre Court. It's been a year. It's such a special place for me. You know, it's quiet, but it's a very understated, nice feeling to be out there.
Q. How is it to be back this year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's certainly the best gift I could have received at this time in my career. I certainly worked hard for it. My comeback wasn't the easiest. Wasn't a Cinderella story, that's for sure. Took a lot of tough days and losses and some wins to get to that moment. But you realize when you actually do get there that it's worth it.
All of those situations you're put in and put through, if you come out of them, it's a nice prize on the other side.
Q. Do you consider your comeback complete now, and this is a new stage now that you got the Grand Slam title you were looking for?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think maybe in terms of comeback, yes, because it's a Grand Slam win and to get back to No. 1. But in terms of my career, definitely not. I'm still very humble and very appreciative of what I have. I still believe that I can achieve a lot more.
That's what drives me and gets me up in the morning still, no matter how much success I've had, no matter how many downfalls, I still believe I can be better. I think until the day comes that I wake up and I think my game is not good enough, that's the time where you say, Well...
Q. So after Paris, you smiled a lot, and now you're thinking about Wimbledon and you're thinking, Okay, next stage now. This is sort of behind me and now I have to plan for something new?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's really something that I'll have for the rest of my life and something that I can think back on and know that I was part of the Roland Garros history.
But this sport puts you back to reality so fast. Within days you're back practicing, getting ready, and it starts from scratch, starts from the first round. It just happens to be Wimbledon.
So when you're a Grand Slam champion, you're No. 1 in the world, everybody is more hungry across the net to beat you.
Q. What do you think about the plans to extend the time from the end of the Roland Garros to the beginning of Wimbledon, maybe an extra week to adjust to the grass?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, maybe. It just depends on how that transitions towards the end of the year and if we have to sacrifice an extra week at the end of the calendar year, which it's tough already. We don't have that much time. I mean, especially the men. They're a couple weeks after us.
So as difficult of a transition as it is, I think it's maybe better like that than seeing the schedule go over the weeks that it is. Which I don't think it will, because we're always pushing for a little bit of a longer off‑season.
Q. What was the one or two toughest moments in the stretch of your comeback?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it was just the general idea of not competing and not competing at a level that I wanted to and that I knew that I could. I mean, during the time that I was away from the sport, it was me wanting to be out there so much and I really couldn't.
You know, sometimes you have goals for yourself and people say, You can't achieve that. But it was like a stop sign. I couldn't really go out and compete professionally at a high level without a lot of pain, so I knew that was not possible.
And then when I would come back in the beginning, and even the losses that I went through, I knew that I was capable of so much better out on the court. I knew that had to come out sometime because I put a lot of work in and I know I have it in me.
You're never going to lose that. It's about finding and putting the right pieces together in order for it to come out.
Q. This is the first time here coming off having won the French. What's different about that, if anything, as you conduct yourself and progress at Wimbledon?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, what's different is I can say I'm the French Open champion. I guess that's the difference (laughter).
Yeah, I mean, look, as much as you want to celebrate, be so excited and happy, I really think that memory, you enjoy it for just that amount of time, which is a few days you get to relax and think about the victory.
Like I mentioned, you come to a tournament and it's not like that it never happened, but you've got to start back again from scratch in the practices and the work and get yourself through round one and through to the final again.
It all starts from the beginning.
Q. When you come here every year, do you still think about 2004?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think of what I've achieved. When I walk past the boards with the champions, I definitely look at it and I see my name, and it makes me really happy to be part of such history at this tournament. Of course I do. How can you not?
Q. When you see your picture, do you say, That was just a young girl then; she didn't know what she was doing?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know if I didn't know what I was doing, but I was a young girl. I was like, My ponytail was too low (smiling).
Q. What has been the most surprising thing since you won Roland Garros?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Most surprising thing? I don't know. Nothing. I wish I could tell you something crazy happened or I was wild.
No, I'm pretty relaxed about things. I think that's something that's helped me in the last few years. As much as you want to be down after losing or as much as you want to celebrate a victory, I've been pretty levelheaded since my injury about the really good days and the bad days. I handle situations much better than I did maybe when I was younger.
The next day after I won, I was in Row 20 in a European Southwest Airlines going to Spain to see my candy being produced with little babies next to me. It was like reality check.
Q. How does that airline compare with Southwest?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not enough leg room. I had bruises on my knees. That was the only direct option, so I didn't have many options. I didn't want to connect anywhere.
Q. Did people recognize you or ask you to hold their babies?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I was traveling with a family. It was my physio's family that had a baby which I love carrying, so I was slightly responsible.
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