MELBOURNE: Four-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova said on Saturday she can’t wait to get to Sochi for the Winter Olympics, but refused to be drawn on Russia’s controversial gay propaganda laws.
The Russian starlet will return to her roots at the Games in February, working for US broadcaster NBC, although she will not be commentating.
Instead, she will bring a unique insight to Russia’s first Winter Games, having lived in Sochi when she was a child and with family and friends still living in the area.
“Everyone seems to think I will be commentating on winter sports. I’m not a bobsledding expert,” she said with a smile at the Australian Open. “I will confirm I won’t be commentating.
“I’m going to be showcasing the city of Sochi to a worldwide audience, and we will be doing a few segments.”
Sharapova was the flag-bearer for Russia at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Summer Olympics, where she won the women’s singles silver medal.
But the 26-year-old did not want to comment on Russia’s law banning the dissemination of so-called “gay propaganda” to minors which has seen gay rights activists around the world calling for a boycott.
“I have discussed the issue a couple of times, and quite recently when I did an interview for The New York Times. I said everything I wanted to say there about it,” she said.
In that interview, Sharapova said she had gay and lesbian friends and believed individuals should have the opportunity to share their lives with whom they see fit.
“I think what needs to be addressed will ultimately be addressed,” she said of the law.
“I think time will address this issue. It will. I’m proud of being Russian, because I believe in the true core of its history and the culture, and that’s where I grew up, and I feel very proud to be from there.
“But never have I said that every individual there is perfect or every law is right.”