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Sharapova Takes Up Issue

September 11, 2006|Lisa Dillman

NEW YORK — Newly crowned U.S. Open women's champion Maria Sharapova explained the meaning of the gestures coming from her support staff during this tournament, including ones during Saturday night's final.

The signals from touring coach Michael Joyce, who held up four fingers, were for her to drink water, she said in a session with a group of American reporters Sunday. Sharapova's agent and father told reporters the same thing Saturday, but she declined to discuss the issue and her news conference turned confrontational.

"It's basically them telling me I have to drink because I don't like to eat during a match because I don't drink a lot," she said. "In the past, I've lost some energy because I don't eat and I don't ever drink a lot.

"Honestly, I really don't think that showing you a banana is all about coaching."

Why didn't she say that after her victory over Justine Henin-Hardenne in the final? She had asked, before the first question, that the session be "positive."

Said Sharapova: "I just think some people come into a press conference and here I am, I'm 19 years old ... but you feel the joy of coming off the court and winning your second Grand Slam, and the things you've done in your life and the sacrifices ... and you come into a press conference and someone asks you if your team has been showing you a banana, is that on-court coaching?"

-- Lisa Dillman

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