February 23, 2024

Open Court


Maria on … fame, Grigor, Jimbo & more

Maria Sharapova shares her thoughts on a lot of different subjects in her new memoir.

Many of the observations are incredibly astute. And surprisingly blunt and honest.

She talks about locker-room culture, and love on tour, and how she was used as a selling tool at a very young age – the same time she realized that tennis wasn’t just a game, it was a business. And she was the business.

Sharapova writes about how fame and success can be a big trap that sucks you in and puts your priorities all out of whack.

And so much more.

Here are just a few of her musings.

On the game:

“I know you want us to love this game – us loving it makes it more fun to watch. But we don’t love it. And we don’t hate it. It just is, and always has been.”

On the Bollettieri Academy:

“Rich kids for the most part, spoiled and sent down to live out a parental dream. I was a player -– one of only a handful on scholarship – who attracted the attention of those parents and got them to fork over all that money for tuition.  That was out job, how we paid back Bollettieri. We were the advertisement. We attracted the deluded, wannabe tennis parents.”

Sharapova’s first serious love was basketball player Sasha Vujacic. In the end, it couldn’t be all about him, so it was over.

On tennis besties:

“There are so many times when you see two players in the locker room, two girls, just chatting away like they’re best friends … Listening to them speak, they sound like best friends. And then, a few hours later, one of them is playing a match and the other is in the locker room watching the match on TV, looking pleased when her friend loses the point. That’s how it really is.”

On her (unrequited) teenage crush:

“Lanky, not too tall, with tousled hair, dark but dyed blond, and warm, mischievous eyes.” (Can you guess who she’s talking about?)

On Jimmy Connors:

“There was no structure, no thought-out plan for the practice, no particular drills or things we would work on. I would hit in the center of the court for hours at a time. No patterns, nothing. … I thought this was maybe the beginning. But weeks went by, and nothing had changed.

“The moments I enjoyed most were during water breaks, when he would talk about his career, his experiences, his mentality. All the things that had nothing to do with my game.”

The Jimmy Connors coaching experiment lasted … one match.

On winning:

“Winning f…s you up. First of all, it brings all kind of rewards which, if seen from the proper perspective, reveal themselves for what they really are: distractions, traps, names. Money, fame, opportunity. Each laurel and offer and ad and pitch takes you further from the game. It can turn your head. It can ruin you.

“And then there is what winning does to your mind, which is even more dangerous. It completely distorts your expectations. You start to feel entitled. When you win Wimbledon, you expect to win Wimbledon every year.”

                                       Click above to read Tennis.Life’s review of Sharapova’s new memoir

On Russian rival Elena Dementieva:

“She was always giving me dirty looks, laser beams. Then, one day, her mother complained to my masseur. She told him, ‘Elena can’t get any deals in Japan because Maria has taken them all.’ “

On combining tennis and love:

“You’re never home, so the only way you can have a relationship is either with another tennis player, or with a person who gives up his life to travel with you, becoming part of your entourage. And who does that? Someone without a life of his own? That is, someone you’d probably not want to date in the first place. You see them in the players’ lounges or carrying bags. Not the coach, not the parent, but the boyfriend. By definition, any relationship you have is going to be long distance, which amounts to a kind of telephone buddy or pen pal.”

On Grigor Dimitrov:

“He has so much potential. He can do amazing things with his body. It’s a gift and also a curse. It’s gotten in his way, this need not only to win but to look beautiful doing it. It has to be perfect or he does not want it at all. It has to be unbelievable or forget it. That’s why he’s yet to fulfill all that potential.”

On the consequences of winning:

“Suddenly, the world, the only world you have ever known, is filled with girls who dislike you. They’re jealous of the money and fame. They want what you have and the only way to get it is to take you out. Every match becomes a big deal – if not for you, then for her. Everyone is waiting.”


On Justine Henin:

“She exposed my weaknesses better than any player. She makes you move, move and move. No matter what you hit, or where, she anticipates its direction and gets it back.. … Even when I’ve beaten her, she’s made me look bad and wore me out. I would go to sleep with her one-handed backhand staring me down.”

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