Maria Sharapova’s book tour behind her memoir, Unstoppable: My Life So Far, brought her to the Tennis Channel studios for an interview with Justin Gimelstob and Steve Weissman.
The book, which details Sharapova’s ascent on the court, along with her trials and tribulations off it—including her recently completed suspension—allowed the five-time Grand Slam champion to reveal more of herself than she ever has.
“Writing this book was really therapeutic for me in a way,” she said.
In the book, Sharapova discussed the yin and yang of the sport she’s devoted much of her life to.
“Tennis is not a game. It’s a sport and a puzzle, an endurance test. You do whatever you can to win.
“It has been my enemy and my friend, my nightmare and the solace to that nightmare, my wound and the salve for my wound…”
When asked to explain what she meant by that, Sharapova said, “There are great moments and there are ones that are really not that fun.”
The relationship between her and Serena Williams, whom Sharapova has a 2-19 head-to-head record against, was also discussed, and she noted some similarities between her and the 23-time Grand Slam winner.
“We’ve both come from adversity,” she said. “We faced a lot of naysayers.”
Despite having some things in common, their dealings off the court are practically nonexistent, and Sharapova accepts that.
“We should be friends, but we’re not and the real reason is we’re competitors and we do want to beat each other,” she said.
Gimelstob asked Sharapova about the state of the women’s game currently and where she sees herself in it.
“The level of the game is much more difficult in the first few rounds of an event than it’s ever been. I think we can expect different winners and different champions each week,” she said.
“I think we’re always very critical of the state of women’s tennis, but in a way, when you have a consistent champion, it sounds like it’s not interesting enough, but when you have an opportunity to come up and do well, then it’s ‘where’s the depth?’”
And as she works her way back, Sharapova is still striving to be considered among the best.
“That’s what I’m going for, that’s why I work. I think it’d be very difficult to be in my position after winning Grand Slams and being no. 1, just to keep doing it just to be mediocre?” she said. “I don’t think that’s fair for myself because I feel like there are other things in my life that I have a lot to accomplish.”
Her comeback from her suspension hasn’t been accepted by all of her peers, with some of them being critical about her return and what might be considered favorable treatment by tournament directors. She says that she’s able to handle it, though.
“It’s OK. I went through a very tough period of time, especially the first few months [of the suspension] and I feel like I overcame it,” and has strengthened her resolve. And she finds comfort in the sport, too.
“Tennis gives me an internal happiness.”
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