'I've never cared about the money, just that I won. I'm a gift person'

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The Independent Online

Maria Sharapova was as entrancing in her interviews as she was gritty and noisily determined on the court. Money, said this 17-year-old who is about to make a fortune from endorsements, is not part of her equation.

Maria Sharapova was as entrancing in her interviews as she was gritty and noisily determined on the court. Money, said this 17-year-old who is about to make a fortune from endorsements, is not part of her equation.

Asked for starters if she knew the amount of her winner's cheque (£560,500), she replied: "No, I have no idea really. I have never cared about the money. I just care that I won Wimbledon. I've never played tennis for the money, because as long as I enjoy it and I can achieve anything, then the money will come. That's just my solution."

Did she propose to buy something for her parents, who sacrificed a lot to foster her career? "For sure. I am a gift person, I always like to buy gifts. I will buy something for them, and also for myself, I think."

What would she buy for herself? "I don't know. I'm just going to go shopping. I'm a shopper." Jewellery? "Anything. If I like it, I'll buy it."

What did she think her mother and father would like? "Well, my dad will want me to buy some snow and a mountain and he wants to go skiing [laughter]. Yes, if I can buy some ice and a mountain I will put him on the slope. My mom is picky. She says she doesn't need anything, but I'll buy something of course."

Did she realise she now faces the prospect of being mobbed in the shopping mall? "Yes, that's another concern."

Did it bother her that her life will change now? "Yes, it will change, but I'm going to be the same person. If a few kids want my autograph, then I'm fine. And if a few people want my picture, then I'm fine with that, and they'll get their picture and they'll leave. So I don't have a problem with that."

That response called to mind the 16-year-old Monica Seles, who, after defeating Steffi Graf to win the 1990 French Open, promised to be "the same little old me".

She hoped her success would influence aspiring young players. "Definitely, especially the young kids that are back in Russia, setting this great example of what they can achieve."

Unsurprisingly, the new queen of the lawns had heard from her country's celebrated tennis nut, Boris Yeltsin, the former Russian President. "Yes," she said. "I just talked to him and his wife."

On her mobile? "Yes," she said amid laughter about the communication difficulties she had experienced earlier on Centre Court. When the Duke of Kent recommended that the players should cease bowing and curtsying to the Royal Box, he never imagined events would become so informal that a teenage champion would try to phone her mother while he waited to present her with the Venus Rosewater Dish.

"That was my dad's [phone]," she said. So would she buy her father a new mobile to replace the Chinese one he uses? "I don't know. Everything is in Chinese on it. I'm not good at that. He needed a mobile in China, so he bought a Chinese mobile, but it works in the world. The signs are all in Chinese. No wonder he can't telephone."

What did Yeltsin say? "Oh, just congratulating me in 20 different ways, and saying that the whole of Russia was just screaming and they were just so happy for me."

Sharapova was finally able to contact her mother, Yelena, two hours after the match. "Mom landed in New York on a Jet Blue flight from Bradenton [Florida]," she said. "She saw me win on TV on the airline. She watched it on the plane from 2-4 down in the second set and couldn't find anyone to share her joy with."

Plans for the Siberian-born Sharapova to visit Russia are on hold. "I'm going to the US after this," she said. "The schedule is busy. I've already got [the tournament in] LA in front of me in two weeks. I definitely hope to go to Russia. All my family are there. But there's not a lot of time."

Will she treat herself a car? "Well, I'll have my permit at the beginning of next year and I'll have my driving licence and I definitely want a car, a Porsche Cayenne."

On that note, she giggled her way out of the room.

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