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Page last updated at 17:00 GMT, Monday, 12 May 2008 18:00 UK

Sharapova reaches WTA compromise

Maria Sharapova
Sharapova is playing in Rome for the first time

World number two Maria Sharapova set her sights on winning the Italian Open after reaching a compromise with the WTA Tour over a publicity shoot.

The Russian said she was threatened with a 153,000 fine unless she took part in a "four-hour commercial shoot" before the tournament.

Sharapova agreed to take part after the shoot was reduced to 90 minutes.

But she added: "The timing was still pretty difficult since it's before a very big event for all of us."

You feel like your voice is never being heard

Maria Sharapova
The Russian had launched a stinging attack on the WTA - the governing body for the women's game - after hearing of the compulsory shoot.

The WTA insisted that what was being asked of the players "is in the rules".

Despite the compromise, Sharapova remains concerned about the relationship between the WTA and the players.

"I think it's in our best interest to listen to all the players," she said.

"Over the last few years, the players have been in numerous mandatory meetings and sometimes you feel like you're talking about the same things and the same issues.

"You feel like your voice is never being heard."

606: DEBATE
But she added: "I already did the talking and now it's time to play tennis."

Sharapova, playing her first tournament of the season on red clay, is the top seed in Rome, where Venus and Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova are also in action.

Dinara Safina, who won the German Open last week, has pulled out with a back injury while world number one Justine Henin (fatigue) and Amelie Mauresmo (rib) have also opted out.

On the first day's play on Monday, in-form Russian Vera Zvonareva - the 10th seed - beat Ai Sugiyama 6-3 6-3.

Samantha Stosur beat Michaella Krajicek 6-3 6-2 to book a second-round meeting with Venus Williams, who is competing for the first time in over a month after being sidelined by an unspecified medical problem.

Serena will open up against Ukrainian Alona Bondarenko, who thrashed Mara Santangelo 6-2 6-2.


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