Maria Sharapova moved by crisis
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Maria Sharapova can't help but follow Japan's nuclear crisis as it unfolds 25 years after the 1986 blast in Chernobyl.
The three-time major champion and native of Russia wore a T-shirt noting the anniversary of the explosion to her post-match news conference Monday at the BNP Paribas Open.
"It's crazy and something that you can't even prepare for," Sharapova said about the Japanese crisis. "It happens, and you see the coverage on it and the videos and it's really incredible that something like that can even happen in the world."
A second hydrogen explosion in three days rocked a Japanese nuclear reactor Monday as authorities worked to avert any catastrophic release of radiation in the tsunami zone. The trouble began after last week's quake and tsunami knocked out power, crippling the cooling systems needed to keep nuclear fuel from going into full meltdown even weeks after a reactor shuts down.
International scientists said there are serious dangers but not at the level of the 1986 blast in Chernobyl.
Sharapova's mother, Yelena, was pregnant with her only child when the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine exploded and spewed radioactive clouds over the western Soviet Union and northern Europe.
Sharapova's father, Yuri, and her mother fled the city of Gomel in Belarus -- about 80 miles north of Chernobyl -- shortly before she was born in Nyagan, Siberia. Gomel was one of the areas most affected by radiation.
Sharapova has worked as a United Nations goodwill ambassador to draw attention to the Chernobyl region.
"Even though something like that happened such a long time ago, it still causes many people on a daily basis, especially kids that were born and now are having kids, you find that they have something in their body that's not allowing them to live a normal life from the pollution," she said.
Seeing the Japanese footage has brought it all back for Sharapova even as she tries to raise her ranking after being sidelined by injuries the last few years.
"It opens your eyes, and obviously puts a lot of perspective in your life," she said about Japan.
"It's a country where I have very great memories from. I started playing there when I was very young, and I always loved my experiences there. So to see it going on there to its culture and the people, it's really sad."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press