Exclusive interview with Maria Sharapova about the Olympics. Sharapova has told The Tennis Space how, as a little girl, she used to watch the Olympics on television and dream of becoming a rhythmic gymnast: “I love gymnastics – what they do is so beautiful and I would love to meet them.”
The fact that you haven’t played before, does that make it even more special?
“Absolutely. It was really tough to miss the last one with injury, knowing how important the Olympics is in Russian culture, seeing the Russian people get together and follow it and talk about it for two weeks. I grew up in that culture, and admired it, and now I want to be a part of it.”
Is a gold medal on the same level as a slam or different?
“Do you know what, it’s tough to say. It would just be a difference experience. You know we play for our country every single day, but it’s an individual sport. The Olympic is much more of a team effort, it’s not just tennis, but all the sports and athletes who are competing at the Games. So it’s going to be a different feeling.”
What’s your first memory of watching the Olympics?
“Hockey was huge, but I always loved gymnastics, especially rhythmic gymnastics, as it’s so beautiful and I always wanted to be a rhythmic gymnast. I haven’t met any of them, but that’s something that I would love to see during the Games.”
Will it feel strange playing at Wimbledon for a second time this summer?
“It will feel very, very strange. I hope it will feel like a very different tournament. Wimbledon is very special on its own, and the Olympics is such a unique event and to have it at Wimbledon, that’s such an amazing opportunity for all of us. And I think it’s great for the players, as we would have been here just a few weeks before – so it’s not a new thing, and we’re used to the environment. And also because we’re going from grass to grass so there’s no change of surface to adapt to. It’s going to be strange seeing people in colours on the grass, and seeing all the logos everywhere when it’s usually such a clean brand. I’ve already planned my outfit. It’s based around the colours of my country.”
Have preparations been different this summer because of the Olympics?
“A little bit. After Wimbledon, you usuually play three or four hard-court tournaments before the Olympics but that’s not going to happen this year. Before the season started, I sat down with my team and I knew that it was going to be the busiest run I would ever have in my career and the most important thing is making sure you’re healthy for each one of those events. You have a certain schedule, but if you feel as though you’re not up to it, change things around. Just do whatever’s best to get ready.”
Are you going to stay in Wimbledon Village?
“Yes, it’s too far to be in the Athletes’ Village. It’s unfortunately so far, as it’s like an hour’s drive. I wish I could, but that would be too much.”