Maria Sharapova is a professional tennis player. She is from Russia. Today she held a press conference (a meeting with reporters) and announced that she had failed a drug test.
The press conference was short, but there are some great English expressions you can learn from her short speech.
Some background information: In January 2016 she played in the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia. (The Australian Open is a tennis tournament.) When Sharapova was at the Australian Open, she had to take a drug test. This is to make sure that athletes are not using drugs to improve their performance. Two months later, the the International Tennis Federation (ITF) told her that she failed that drug test.
take a test / fail a test
I received a letter from the ITF that I had failed a drug test at the Australian Open.
We take a lot of tests in life. For example, we take tests in school to pass a course. We take a test to get a driver’s license.
Professional athletes take drug tests to make sure that they are not using substances to improve their abilities.
You can pass a test (get the required score or be successful) or you can fail a test (not get the required score, not be successful).
These are collocations. They are words that go together in a way that sounds natural and correct to a native speaker.
take responsibility for (something)
I did fail the test and I take full responsibility for it.
I have to take full responsibility for it, …
Politicians say this a lot, too!
If you take responsibility for something, you say that it is your fault that it happened, that you are responsible for what happened.
In her press conference, Maria Sharapova did not blame anyone for or accuse anyone of causing this problem.
make a mistake
I made a huge mistake, …
A mistake is something incorrect by accident. It could be something someone said or did or wrote. It is not something that someone intended to do or tried to do.
Sharapova did not know that the medicine she was taking was banned by the ITF. She did not take the medicine on purpose. She made a mistake.
let someone down
I let my fans down. I let the sport down that I’ve been playing since the age of 4, that I love so deeply.
To let someone down means to disappoint someone because you didn’t do what someone expected you to do.
Sharapova felt that her fans expected her not to take banned drugs to improve her performance. (She didn’t know that the medicine she was taken had been banned by the ITF. She had been taking it for 10 years. The ITF only banned in on January 1, 2016.)
I know that with this I face consequences …
Yes, face is a verb, too! I know, English is confusing.
A consequence is a result of something you have done. Usually, a consequence is a negative result. In Sharapova’s situation, she will probably not be allowed to play tennis for a few months or a year as a consequence of taking banned medicine. She may have to pay a fine (an amount of money).
As a verb, face means to accept and deal with a problem or situation directly. Sharapova knows that her mistake has consequences. She will do what she has to do.
give someone a chance (to do something)
I don’t want to end my career this way, and I really hope that I will be given another chance to play this game.
A chance is an opportunity (to do something). Sharapova wants another opportunity to play tennis. She doesn’t want this mistake to end her career.
In this context, when you give someone a chance, you give them an opportunity.
Here is a video of her press conference (she walks to the podium at 43:17):
Hi Melanie! It’s great to see your new lesson! With regards to Maria’s press conference, I think, we’re all people and we make mistakes from time to time. But she’s honestly admitted it, and all the blame she’s taken at herself. It causes a great deal of respect. There’s one more aspect Why officials from Anti-Doping Agency had changed the name of that drug? It’s all so confusing… What do you think about her accent? It seems, she speaks with a natural american accent, isn’t she? Oh, it’s my dream: to speak English like she does.
I completely agree with you, Serge! This was an honest mistake. She has been taking the drug for 10 years, and for 10 years it was fine. Then, all of a sudden, the same drug was banned on January 1, 2016. I wonder how many other tennis players are taking the same drug?
She does speak English with a natural American accent! According to Wikipedia, she has been living in the US since she was 7. You can learn to speak like her without moving to the US! You have to surround yourself with as much natural, spoken English as possible AND you need to imitate the sounds that you hear. Hear the words, don’t try to see the words!
Yeah, thanks to the internet, I can and I do it. I surrounded myself with English almost completely. Thank you!
Hi Melanie! I’ve stumbled upon your website while googling what – as I’ve just learned thanks to you =) – is called a collocation. When I have a doubt about certain phrase in English I usually google it by wrapping it in quotes. This way Google provides exact matches and the number of their occurrences on the web.
Regarding this video I’d like to ask you a couple of questions. First, does she pronounce “years” in “for ten years” at 0:56 correctly? I thought it should be closer to ї (we have this sound in Ukrainian) Second, I was wondering about “this way” and “in this way” like in “I don’t want to end my career this way”. Is there any difference between them? “I usually do it this way” or “I usually do it in this way” or it doesn’t matter :) Prepositions are tough in English.
At last I should say you do a great job, Melanie, for us non-native speakers. Lots of helpful stuff on your site! I’ve added it to my bookmarks. And finally thanks to you and Maria we now know that downtown LA hotels have fairly ugly carpets =)
I didn’t hear anything unusual about the way she pronounced “years.” I’m not familiar with the sound ї, but according to Google & Wikipedia, this sound is represented by the IPA transcription /ji/. You’re correct that “years” starts with /ji/!
That’s an interesting question about “in this way.” I couldn’t find it in any dictionary. That surprised me. I found some examples in news articles, but all of the example sentences would have sounded better if the writer or speaker had used “this way” or “like that” or another phrase. To me, it looks like English speakers have invented the phrase “in this way” as a way to sound smart, rather than using existing phrases. English speakers do this a lot! Don’t worry about using “in this way.”
A quick note on prepositions: It’s much easier to memorize collocations and fixed expressions (phrases) than it is to worry about preposition rules!
Thank you for your kind words about my website! I know how frustrating it is trying to learn another language, so I try to make things easier for people learning English!
Hi Melanie! I love your website, I’m living Xi’AN, china, I hope you come and visit one day
Thank you for your kind words, Bob! I would love to visit China someday! There is so much to see!
OM PRAVA MISHRA says
Hi Melanie! I love your website, I’m living in INDIA,CHENNAI,Really u r serving us with ur fine tuned english,i m enjoying and improving,Thank U…..tHANK u SO MUCH
Hello Om Prava! Thank you so much for your kind words! :)
Hi Melanie, thank you, your lesson is very clear. Now I know mistake is just something incorrect by accident. Please tell me which word I can use if someone intend to do wrong things.
That’a a great question, An!
If someone intends to do something wrong, he does something deliberately or on purpose.
You can read more about those words here: