“It’s a bit eerie really to leave”, Maria Sharapova recalls her junior past
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2004 was the year when Russian underdog, 17-year-old Maria Sharapova triumphed over 22-year-old Serena Williams, a 5-time Grand Slam champion already.
In 2014, in an interview with “The Independent”, Sharapova speaks about her rivalry with Williams, on-court and off-court life, her junior days, and much more.
Reminiscing her junior days, Sharapova said, “As we were driving away, I remember looking back and thinking how special it was. I was probably upset because I’d lost in the final. I was thinking about the match and all the what-ifs, but I looked back and thought how beautiful it was, how I couldn’t wait to come back, and how I’d really like to win it one day.”
“I think the junior final was on the Sunday, after the men had finished,” Sharapova recalled.
“I was one of the last people leaving the site and it was quite late and nearly dark. It’s a bit eerie really to leave when there’s nobody there and the tournament has finished.” Sharapova added.
How did she take the final pressure? In her stride? Let’s find out!
“I really had horse blinkers on,” she said. “I didn’t think about anything. I think that helped me get through the situation so much better. That’s why I was fearless. I treated it as if I was playing on Court No 20, although I was actually on Centre Court in front of thousands of people playing for the Wimbledon championship.”
Her Wimbledon scene was such, “At the beginning it was a bit of a mess because our housing situation didn’t work out,” Sharapova explained.
“We ended up staying with a family with three young kids. My father and I were on the top floor of a home in Wimbledon village, so that was very interesting. There were a lot of 6am wake-up calls from the kids. I still think back and wonder how I coped with that. Then the next morning, after the final, I was just holding my replica trophy with them in their garden like it was no big deal.” Sharapova added.
Her experience from the 2004 final was truly exceptional.
In her words: “I had faced so many things. I was in the Wimbledon final playing Serena Williams, who had won the tournament so many years. It was my first ever Grand Slam final. I don’t think I would have done well if I had thought of all those things – and I really didn’t. One of the reasons I have been able to keep that success and carry on with all the things I do is that I love going on the court,” she said. “I love competing and the fight and the drive, but I also have opportunities to do things that make me happy and which I really enjoy.”
”Being passionate is the key to winning! If you don’t have that passion you are never going to be really successful. Things are always going to be a drag and weigh you down and pull you in so many directions when you are a 17-year-old who has won Wimbledon.” Maria concluded.