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Maria Sharapova
( Photo credit: Art Seitz ©2012 )

Maria Sharapova

January - June, 2006

June 24, 2006: "I can't say that I was my happiest on court, but I felt completely free. Free from family obligations, free from my own torment. In a real sense I was a different person. It was a place where I could not tolerate the idea of being beaten. I psyched myself up into a state where I felt something close to hatred towards my opponent, a state where I detested the idea of someone making his name at the expense of Jimmy Connors. I was in my element on court, measuring myself against someone else. I was not competitive for show. It came from deep within."

Jimmy Connors, telling The Times (UK) about the inner torment that fueled his competitive fire during his storied 21-year pro career.

June 12, 2006: "You've got Nadal, swashbuckling Nike-like Agassi, and Federer is kind of like Sampras. The reason it is so epic and special is that one guy is on the verge of chasing history and one guy might be the best clay-court player since Borg. So to make history, he has to go through the new Borg."

Brad Gilbert, former world No. 4 and now a TV tennis analyst, on why the Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal rivalry is so compelling.

June 1, 2006: "Many people take away things from Sampras because he never won the French, saying his career was not complete, which I totally disagree with. I think he had the best career of any player ever."

Roger Federer, telling the Associated Press that he wants to avoid that same criticism by winning the French Open this fortnight.

May 15, 2006: "We have to start kids younger on clay. If you don't, they're going to be afraid of it. It's absolutely essential that you learn to slide and glide on clay at an early age. And you have to understand that you're going to need more defense out there. You're always going to have to make an extra shot."
— Two-time French Open champion Jim Courier, on why American standouts Andy Roddick, James Blake and Robby Ginepri have fared poorly on European clay courts, in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
May 1, 2006: “Serena should be in her physical prime, but she is wasting time you cannot ever get back. She had the opportunity to be the greatest in history. Instead, she'll be a supernova who burst on to the scene, and then she was gone. Serena has a gift, and she's not using it. What you really regret are the things you didn't do. Will she get it together, or will she fall so low she'll need wildcard invitations? She may find by then that her head will be there, but her body won't. It's a sad situation.”
Martina Navratilova, on absent tennis superstar Serena Williams, in The Telegraph (UK).
April 15, 2006: “It is simply indefensible that 127 women's singles competitors and an equal number of women's doubles players in a grand slam tournament should be receiving considerably less prize money than their male counterparts.”
Larry Scott, CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, applauding the French Open's decision to award equal prize money ($1.13 million) to the men's and women's singles champions for the first time, but rightly contending there should be parity for the remaining players.

March 26, 2006: “It will titillate for a time and bring the protagonists some peace of mind as they trudge back to the service line. But if tennis administrators seriously think that bringing Hawk-Eye into play on a few show courts is going to broaden their fan base in a significant way, they are as self-delusional as an aspiring professional with a wooden racket. ”
Christopher Clarey, New York Times columnist, on instant replay by Hawk-Eye, an electronic line-calling system, used on the show courts at the Nasdaq-100 Open.
March 12, 2006:“I am totally against it. I think it will destroy the game. It will slow it down, lose the momentum and the motion of the game. Who was this genius who came up with this stupid idea? Who approved it? They are looking for solutions on how to save the game, and this is not it. It is bull. This definitely is not the way to help the game.”

Marat Safin, telling the Orange County Register that he opposes instant re-play and player challenges that will be used for the first time by the ATP and the WTA Tours at the Nasdaq-100 Open.

March 1, 2006: "The game back then was stronger at the top. Wilander, Lendl and Connors, those guys were ultimate warriors. In those days, Mac could snooze into the quarters. But now players are monumentally better from No. 10-150 in the rankings."
Brad Gilbert, The former world No. 4 player, comparing 1984 when John McEnroe racked up an Open Era won-loss record of 82-3 and 13 singles titles, to 2005, when Roger Federer notched an 81-4 mark with 11 titles, including two Grand Slams and a record four ATP Masters Series crowns, on

February 16, 2006: "There was kind of a code that you had as an Australian that you never left the court losing unless you had blood all over you. That's the sort of toughness you need to compete on the world stage, and I feel that our kids today just don't have it.”

John Newcombe, a 1960s-‘70s champion and former Australian Davis Cup captain.
February 1, 2006: "There were many occasions in my career where I could have given up, where I asked myself whether I would ever make it.”
Amelie Mauresmo, who won her first Grand Slam crown, the Australian Open, at age 26, confiding to L'Equipe.
January 15, 2006: "The ATP, misdirected, is trying to kill doubles—the people's game—altogether. For shame."
Bud Collins, Tennis Hall of Fame journalist, on the destructive ATP doubles reforms, in Tennis Week magazine.


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