A for Athlete



Sharapova reaches compromise with WTA over photo shoot

May, 2008, ROME (AP)

Maria Sharapova reached a compromise with the WTA Tour and completed a promotional photo shoot before the Italian Open began in May 2008.

The second-ranked Russian was opposed to the shoot because she does not like distractions before tournaments, and claimed the WTA threatened to fine her more than $300,000 if she refused.

Sunday's photo shoot to build publicity for the tour championships was reduced to 90 minutes from several hours, Sharapova said.

"I was riding around in a car for an hour talking -- pretending like I'm talking on the phone," Sharapova said. "The timing compromise was still pretty difficult since it's before a very big event for all of us. Considering the time reduction, it definitely makes that a lot easier than going into a four- or five-hour shoot with hair and makeup, which adds another hour."

Sharapova launched her protest on her Web site two weeks ago, and asked for fans' opinions.

"I've obviously made my point," she said. "I wanted to let my fans know that I didn't feel like people were listening to me. I think it's in the best interest of the tour."

After a first-round bye, Sharapova will play either Dominika Cibulkova or Gisela Dulko at the clay-court warmup for the French Open.

"When I set foot in Rome, my priority is to play tennis," Sharapova said. "I already did the talking, and now it's time to play tennis."

Sharapova is playing her first tournament in Europe this year. She won a clay-court event in Amelia Island last month, then lost to Serena Williams in the quarterfinals in Charleston a week later. In August, Sharapova plans to play at the Olympics for the first time.

"I'm absolutely thrilled," Sharapova said of the Beijing Games. "It's been a dream of mine since I was a very young girl, from watching it in the middle of the night on TV, and waking up and watching the opening ceremony, to following all the athletes and waiting until Russia would walk out.

"It's quite hard to believe that sometimes your dreams can turn to reality. In a few months they will, so that's quite exciting."

Sharapova also wants to play for Russia in the Fed Cup final against Spain in September.

"If I'm healthy, I'm definitely going to be playing," she said.

Sharapova won two matches to help Russia beat Israel in the quarterfinals in February, but was left off the team that beat the United States in the semifinals.