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Maria Sharapova: Jimmy Connors came in ‘at the wrong time and place’

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Jimmy Connors (bottom left corner) coached Maria Sharapova for only one match during their brief partnership. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Jimmy Connors (bottom left corner) coached Maria Sharapova for only one match during their brief partnership. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Maria Sharapova opened up about her coaching split from Jimmy Connors in an extensive interview with The New York Times, blaming her own negative mindset over the summer for their brief partnership.

The four-time Grand Slam champion hired Connors after Wimbledon and then fired him after just one match, a loss to Sloane Stephens at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. She shut down her season after that match with shoulder pain that had plagued her since before the French Open.

“Jimmy came in at the wrong time and in the wrong place,” Sharapova said. “When he came in post-Wimbledon, I don’t think any coach could have succeeded in the frame of mind I had at that time. Because I was going to practice, and I knew I couldn’t serve, and I knew that there was a good chance I might not play the U.S. Open. As an athlete, that’s tough to digest. I was not fun to be around, and it was a tough position for him.”

Amid the pain, Sharapova put together a solid clay-court season, winning the title in Stuttgart, Germany, and making the final of the Madrid Open. But after beating Stephens in the third round of the Italian Open, Sharapova withdrew from the tournament, citing illness.

“I don’t know how I won that match [against Stephens],” Sharapova said. “You can even go back and watch the video and see my face is totally white, because I know something is not right.”

Sharapova pulled herself together for the French Open and returned to the final (where she lost to Serena Williams), but her shoulder held her back through the hard-court season.

“I think when you have surgery on any part of your body, it’s never going to be the same,” Sharapova said. “I think for me, it was a lot of matches, and I’m very loose-jointed, so changes come, change of weather, change of balls, I am quite sensitive to that, and I think everything just kind of piled on.”

Sharapova underwent platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections to help rehabilitate her right shoulder, the same treatment Rafael Nadal has had in the past to heal his ailing knees. She says she’s now back to serving with a pain-free shoulder, which required surgery in 2008.

Sharapova also spoke about her decision to blast Williams at Wimbledon after Williams was quoted in Rolling Stone taking an apparent dig at Sharapova’s boyfriend, Grigor Dimitrov.

“If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship, and her boyfriend that was married, and is getting a divorce and has kids,” she said during her pre-tournament interview at Wimbledon.

From The Times:

“The thing is,” Sharapova said at lunch, “I didn’t say anything that was not true, so it’s not like some secret she told me that I gave out to the world. I said something that everyone knew, except no one expected me to say it.”

Told that many people were stunned that she had said it, Sharapova was caught by surprise herself. She started laughing so hard that she disappeared from view as she slumped, clinging to her fork, and slowly sank below the surface of the table. When she reappeared, she quickly grew serious again.

“On the court, I have the utmost respect for her; I really do,” she said of Williams.

And off the court?

“It’s different,” she said. “I don’t know what it is, but it’s different, and to me, even though that tennis is such a huge part of our lives, at the end it’s such a small part of our lives, and I value so many other more important things in life than just the sport.”

  • Published On Dec 16, 2013
  • 23 comments
    ramrog128
    ramrog128

    No time was the right time to hire Connors. No disrespect intended towards him, he was a great competitor during his touring days. However, as a coach, he's a flop. There is not a given correlation between having been a good player and becoming a good coach. Great coaches have a gift for relating with their player, getting inside their head, understanding their inherit mental and physical shortcomings and helping them to improve those things. Connors doesn't have that ability.

    Regarding Maria's media flap with Serena, she needed very, very, very badly to vent some of the frustrations from having been dominated on court by Serena over the last ten or so years.

    http://martinstake128.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/maria-the-unforgiven/

    http://martinstake128.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/aftershock-sits-serena-induced-trauma-syndrome-shades-of-poe/


    KennethB.Jacobs
    KennethB.Jacobs

    These ladies' performance on the court is beauty in motion. . . a type of eloquence . .  eloquence that is not matched by their speech off court. Would that they remained silent and let their rackets do all their talking!

    sikestonsb
    sikestonsb

    I used to like to watch women's tennis, but with all the screeching that goes on when they return the ball, not anymore.  It would be fine with me if all of the screechers would just retire.  Then maybe I could turn the volume back up to listen to commentary.  If I am not mistaken, aren't Sharipova and Williams both of the screeching variety?

    ClareLeach
    ClareLeach

    Let's hope that Maria start to the season is encouraging!!!!!!!!Since losing to Stephens in Cincy she has done alot of interviews high lighting her spat with Serena and maybe not enough talk about how she is going to improve her game. 

    jumptoit
    jumptoit

    pova is a bitter biddy..

    JohnGrecoGilliam
    JohnGrecoGilliam

    It's like and itch Serena will continue to scratch it and peel the HELL out of....IT!

    TWarp30
    TWarp30

    Sharapova is as bitter as they come! First off, it was never confirmed Serena was talking about Maria, and Maria knows that, but bashing Serena off the court makes her feel like she's winning on the court. Maria, you are not honest, you're the biggest liar in tennis.


    1. After she was beaten 60 61 at the Olympics, she claim she thought she was pregnant, then she claimed stomach virus and that was the reason behind the beatdown

    2. This year she claims she had a virus and that's the reason she withdrew from Rome and then made it to the finals of the French where she lost to Serena again. Now she's claiming she had a shoulder injury...LIES. 

    3. She claim her coach Hodgstet wanted to be with his family more and that was the reason for the split...Hodgstet is now coaching Wozniacki


    She thinks going on every interview like a 2 year old bashing Serena will eventually get to Serena. It didn't bother Serena after she did it at Wimbledon, see that Serena went on to win the US Open and Maria was sitting on the sidelines. HAHAHAHA. 

    David'divaD'Tolbert
    David'divaD'Tolbert

    The comment about Patrick and his family were rude and tacky and had nothing to do with Serena. If she wanted to take Serena to task about talking trash or minding her own business that's one thing. But to make comments about a family going through divorce with children involved is uncalled for. For someone who "values so many other important things in life" she sure didn't waste time jumping into the trash(talking) bin...

    acash626
    acash626

    Maria S. try sticking with improving your tennis game. What you think of Serena is irrelevant and it's a pretty safe bet she doesn't care what you think of her.

    womenstennis
    womenstennis

    I was very surprised when Sharapova made such a comment about Serena and Patrick. She must have been very provoked. She's generally reserved and minds her own business. And now she's even saying she was surprised by the people's reaction. Strange.

    wimbKISSCAM
    wimbKISSCAM

    We are fed up of this story , nobody cares except websites that need more hits , they continue to search for headline stories , attention etc . 

    Sharapova is lying by saying she said something everyone knew . Many tennis fans didn't know that Patrick was in the middle of a divorce .

    I don't believe Sharapova saying she respects Serena on the court.  How can she turn on and off respect just like that ? The right words ; she acknowledges Serena is a better player and nothing she can do about it as confirmed by a lopsided head to head 14-2.

    Conclusion : Most Tennis fans don't care about players respecting each other on the court . If anything fans want strong a rivalry as long players don't go over the top disrespecting each other , a bit of niggle between rivals in sports is intriguing to watch . 

    I think Sharapova is trying to soften Serena on the court by mentioning this respect thing so she doesn't bring too much intensity and batter her 6-1 6-0 like at the Olympics 2012 lolz

    Serena is the true Queen of the court , not Sharapova . She should focus on her shoulder rehabilitation and tennis , not Serena. 

    zobovt
    zobovt

    Arrrrgh!!!! Nobody cares about this overrated Russian goose, we fans just wanna watch tennis, enough about empty talk when your being humiliated for nearly 10 yrs.


    Sharapova isn't relevant to tennis anymore, should take a hike to her candy factory ...bring on Li Na, Serena, Vika, Wozniacki, Petra, and the young guns Bouchard, Sloane, Robson, Madison, etc

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

    @sikestonsbNO, serena tries very hard to muffle her grunts. screamapova, outright, screams thinking that it gives her more power. i think that it diminishes her power, because she puts too much effort into the scream and not in her tennis stroke. SCREAMAPOVA!!!

    Allinthetoss
    Allinthetoss

    @TWarp30 Maria can keep flapping those thin lips of hers, but we all know that when she meets Serena on court that lower lip will be quivering as she fights back the tears of that beat down.  Why doesn't Maria simply refuse to talk about the issue any further?  Serena is not running around talking about it. I suspect it is because Serena has beaten her so badly that it has impacted how tennis fans see Maria - as not in the same league as Serena. And her sponsors must be pissed. Who wants to have someone as your spokesperson, who gets beat so badly for nine years. 


    Maria would be better off refusing to answer the question.  Maria herself was asked at the FO post match interview  if she was yelling "come on" to show Serena she was a fighter. Maria replied that she didn't think Serena cared what was happening on the other side of the net.  Maria, apply that thinking to this incident. Serena doesn't care about your talking. She and her racquet will talk to you on court. And i can't wait to see it.  



    maria_pashova
    maria_pashova

    @TWarp30   "it was never confirmed Serena was talking about Maria"


    It was clear that she was talking about Sharapova and Grigor. I think Grigor has told her the whole story and that's why she reacted. Patrick Mouratoglu came in Bulgaria with Grigor in the beginning of 2012 and said he was going to be his coach. By the way Grisho had a girlfriend at the time and it was not Serena Williams as the press presented the story. Then Patrick became her coach and lover in search for glory and left Dimitrov. That's why the boy left the academy and I am glad. Patrick Mouratoglu is a son of one of the richest people in France. The only thing he doesn't have is glory and now he has that with Serena Williams. He is using her in the same way he is using all the people. All the biggest talents left his academy. And by the way all people in France know about the divorce since 2012, the pictures with Serena, his wife and his children. It is not very well accepted in France. 


    maria_pashova
    maria_pashova

    @wimbKISSCAM Sharapova is lying by saying she said something everyone knew . Many tennis fans didn't know that Patrick was in the middle of a divorce .


    Where do you come from?? Here, in Europe, everybody knows about the divorce, the pictures with Serena even form 2012!!!!!!  The problems begun when Patrick met Serena in the spring of 2012. Ask someone from the academy if you want. In fact Grigor Dimitrov was the "paravan" about the real story between his coach and Serena and in order not to have media attention because he was married. 

    juless
    juless

    @zobovt like her or not she is relevant! Li Na and Serena (god protetc her health) are over 30 so enjoy them.  Wosniacki and Petra didn´t show anything special this year...

    And the young guns are still developing their game, so like I said she is still relevant

    wimbKISSCAM
    wimbKISSCAM

    @maria_pashova I live in UK . Pictures of Serena and Patrick from 2012 meant people knew there was a relationship going on but many didn`t know Patrick was in the middle of a divorce ! Many thought Patrick was already divorced , also Sharapova mentioned Children. She went over the top really to announce about children. She showed true character how bitchy she is , NO CLASS but Serena will punish her by beating her on the court . she will have to pull out of tournaments avoiding Serena bushing on the court 6-1 6-0 .

    ClareLeach
    ClareLeach

    @juless @zobovt PETRA AND WOZNIACKI WILL SHOW UP IN 2014. SHARAPOVA STILL HAS CONCERNS ABOUT HER SHOULDER AND HOW IT WILL HOLD UP WEEK IN AND WEEK OUT ON TOUR.

    maria_pashova
    maria_pashova

    @wimbKISSCAM@maria_pashova 

    What is bitchy???? The guy came to Bulgaria with Grigor in 2012 and announced himself a coach after removing Peter McNamara from the position. In fact Grigor Dimitrov made wonderful progress with the Australian in 2011. Patrick Mouratoglu is a glory seeker and not only he has children (2 girls) but he was married once then divorced then again and now divorced again. What do we expect?? Grigor Dimitrov had a Bulgarian girlfriend in the spring of 2012 and Mouratoglu decided  to hide behind him with Serena!!! How ugly is that! All the Bulgarian fans are happy that Dimitrov left the academy in 2012 when at one point he dropped 100 in the rankings and then at Queens he was with his father. Everything Sharapova said is known long ago. And by the way she protected Grigor - "The Man with the Black heart" and that's why she reacted towards Patrick Mouratoglu who has destroyed numerous talents in his academy and many left it for good. 

    juless
    juless

    @ClareLeach @juless @zobovt I´m not convice with petra, since her wimbledon win she desapered. I hope you´re right because it will be a great tennis year.