SHENZHEN, December 28, 2018 (Press Release)
Having just arrived in Shenzhen on Thursday morning, five-time grand slam champ Maria Sharapova made her first media appearance of the season in front of the Shenzhen MSU-BIT University, located just outside the Shenzhen Longgang Tennis Centre in the Longgang district of Shenzhen, where she posed for pictures with students and staff members.
Co-founded by the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government, the Beijing Institute of Technology and Lomonosov Moscow State University, Shenzhen MSU-BIT University (SMBU) is a non-profitable educational institution and one of the important projects representing the local government’s efforts to introduce quality educational resources into the city.
The newly built university building, scheduled to officially open its doors in 2019, is inspired by the famous façade of the Moscow State University high-riser in Moscow, with elements of Chinese architecture added to it.
“As I played here for the first time last year, I saw this huge building just behind the stadium going up and wondered what it was because I noticed the star and connected it back to the university in Moscow. It turned out to be this incredible joint venture university and I am very proud to be here with the students today. I haven’t been inside but from this perspective, it looks very beautiful and feels like an iconic building. What it represents inside is most important, which is the literature, the culture and the education that so many students around the world strive for,” said the 31-year-old Sharapova, who made the last four in her inaugural appearance at Shenzhen last year.
It was one of only two semifinals appearances for the former world No.1 in 2018, who cut her season short in September to recover from a shoulder injury.
“I’m really excited to be back and competing in a tournament. It’s been a long recovery from the shoulder injury. Maybe for the first few matches I won’t feel great and I will need to improve with every match I play. But just to be back here in a competitive atmosphere and doing an interview again, I feel it really gets the juices flowing. You know you are here for a reason and that is to compete and try to be the champion again,” added the 36-time WTA singles title winner.
Currently ranked at No. 29, Sharapova starts the new season 31 spots higher than the previous, and will be the singles sixth seed here at the Shenzhen Open 2019.