Maria Sharapova Talks the Olympics and Growing Up in Sochi

February 07, 2014 | by cait rohan | Talk of the Town

Maria Sharapova in Sochi, Russia.

Tennis star Maria Sharapova at the reopening of her hometown court in Sochi earlier this week. 

With the Opening Ceremonies in Sochi tonight, there’s one group of people we’ll rely on for entertainment just as much as the athletes involved—the commentators. As an Olympic silver medal winner in tennis for her home country, Russia, there’s no better person to cover the Olympics as an NBC commentator than Maria Sharapova.

In addition to her commentator role, Sharapova has been hosting events around Sochi, where she played tennis in her childhood. This week, the tennis star joined Nike to reopen her revamped hometown court for the Kid’s Tennis Academy and held an event in Sochi’s Gourmet Shop featuring her candy line, Sugarpova. We caught up with Sharapova before the Opening Ceremonies.

What does it mean for you to have the Olympic games hosted in Russia?  
MARIA SHARAPOVA: As a little girl learning tennis in Sochi, it’s definitely something I never imagined. I’m excited to help expose the world to Sochi; it’s an amazing place and different from what some people think. At the London Games, I was invited to carry the flag at the Opening Ceremonies—a first for a Russian woman.

What are you excited to bring to the Olympics as an NBC commentator? 
MS: I’m grateful that I can share my perspective as an Olympian myself. I played in the London Games and won a silver medal, so I can relate to what the athletes are going through. Every athlete has an incredible journey that brings them to this world stage, so I hope to be able to communicate that passion. 

If you had to compete in any winter Olympic sport, which would it be?
MS: As a girl, I grew up following figure skating—it is very popular in Russia. The feminine part of me loves the fluidity and power of skating. But I love watching hockey, too! 

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOE SCARNICI/GETTY IMAGES FOR NIKE

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