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Wimbledon: Maria encounters nude man

india Updated: Jul 05, 2006 11:17 IST
Reuters

Maria Sharapova kept her eye fixed firmly on the ball when she reached the Wimbledon semi-finals on Tuesday.

The glamorous Russian's 6-1 6-4 victory over compatriot Elena Dementieva was interrupted in the second set when a naked man streaked on to Centre Court and performed a cartwheel before being bundled away by security.

Sharapova politely averted her gaze and said it was the strangest thing that had happened to her on a tennis court.

"It was real bizarre. Even more bizarre that it took 10 seconds for security to come," she told her post-match news conference.

"I didn't really look at the guy, thank God. I didn't want to look at all the details."

However, when told that some of the female spectators had been impressed by the streaker's physique, Sharapova added: "He was? Maybe next time I'll take a look."

The 19-year-old said she had not been too perturbed by the incident, although she thought security officials took a little long to deal with the intruder.

"When you look at the security guards and they're laughing, it's hard to be frightened then," Sharapova said.

"I looked at them and they were kind of laughing, then they took out these red blankets. They must have been prepared. But I don't know why they were laughing.

"I would have liked that he didn't do a cartwheel and run around the court for about 10 seconds but, hey, you guys wanted some entertainment during a women's match, you got some."

DIM VIEW

A Wimbledon spokesman said it took a "dim view" of the incident and the All England Club later issued a statement in which it defended its security procedures but said they would be reviewed.

"It is a tough compromise between containment and allowing the great views and closeness to the action that spectators have traditionally enjoyed," it said.

"In this case, it was quickly apparent that the individual poses no threat to the players or the public and the incident was dealt with summarily and swiftly. We will nevertheless review procedures."

Sharapova tossed her pony-tail at the suggestion the streaker's appearance had caused her to lose concentration in the second set, when she went from 4-0 up to 4-3.

"No I didn't. I won the next game. I won the game at 3-0. I know my stats," she said firmly.

As for the tennis, the Russian was pleased to have improved her serving performance compared with her fourth round win over Italian Flavia Pennetta, when she had dropped her first set of the tournament.

"I definitely played a lot better than I did yesterday, and I knew I had to if I wanted to win," she said.

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