WTA stars exultant about opportunity to play for gold

MONTREAL -- The Olympics were a hot topic among the players at the Rogers Cup WTA tournament last week. Here's what some of the top players had to say to reporters about participating in the Beijing Games:

Question: Jelena Jankovic announced that it's unfortunate [Maria] Sharapova will not play in the Olympics. Can you comment on this?

Answer from Ana Ivanovic, Serbia: She won't play Olympics? I didn't know that. It must be very disappointing because for many players I think they put Olympics even higher than a Grand Slam. So I guess that's a very, very disappointing fact.

Q: Do you put the Olympics higher than the Grand Slam tournament?

A: It's definitely [a] very important event, especially [because] you get chance to play once in four years. You play this year, and who knows in four years if you would be, you know, able to play it? So, it's definitely very high on my list.

Question: How big are the Olympics for you?

Answer from Jelena Jankovic, Serbia: Olympics, it's a very special event. We get [an] opportunity to play Olympics every four years. Just to be surrounded by the best athletes in the world -- being in the village with them, experiencing the whole event -- is special. So … I really look forward to giving my best there and hopefully being [in] a little bit better form than I was here. We will see. I don't know. Anything can happen.

Q: What do you prefer, an Olympic medal or to win the U.S. Open?

A: Actually, to be honest, a win in the U.S. Open. I don't know why. I want to win a Grand Slam. It's just, you know, individual. But if I could choose, I would choose both. Very humble, huh?

Question: Are the Olympics just as important to you as a Grand Slam?

Answer from Dinara Safina, Russia: Doesn't matter, Grand Slam or Olympics. … If I could pick one, it's only it's once in four years, yeah, maybe it's more like kind of special. But I don't know, I don't mind to have one of them.

Question: What do you think of going to the Olympics?

Answer from Dominika Cibulkova, Slovakia: I'm really looking forward to [going] there. I'm so excited about my first Olympic Games. It will be just something different, Olympic Games. I will be playing not just for myself; I will be playing for Slovakia. I hope to play well. Now, I have enough confidence to believe in myself, and we will see there.

Paul Grant is a deputy editor at ESPN.com.