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Sharapova says she finds red carpets terrifying

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) -- Cover girl Maria Sharapova says she prefers tennis to posing for the cameras.

"There is nothing more mortifying than the red carpet," she said with a smile.

Sharapova said she enjoys the work that comes with her endorsement deals, which gives her a chance to be creative and meet talented people. But she said she mostly leads a normal life and finds it terrifying to walk a red carpet.

"It's - I don't want to say fake, but - it's one big illusion, to be honest," Sharapova said. "The things you see on a red carpet, everything is perfect, the image of a person there dressed beautifully with hair and makeup and wonderful styling. I come home an hour later and I take everything off, and, you know - `Where did all that glamour go?"'

Sharapova talked about her celebrity status after winning Tuesday to reach the semifinals at the Sony Ericsson Open. In her ninth year on tour at age 24, she still loves hitting fuzzy balls and trying to improve.

"When I have tough things in my life going on, when I go on court it's like it's my oasis," she said. "You forget about everything when you're out there. I love that feeling.

"I know it sounds silly, because you're hitting a tennis ball. But really, it's such a good feeling when you feel that you're good at something and you could be better."

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