Maria Sharapova sends out strong reminder in her press conference - Roland Garros diary

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  • Game face on: Maria Sharapova.

    The Maria Sharapova press conference experience continues to get more and more fun and it’s usually the subtle moments that end up becoming the real highlights.

    On Thursday after her victory over Donna Vekic, a colleague’s phone briefly emits a sound and Sharapova quickly fires a sarcastic, “That’s a yellow flag, Ben”. A reporter asks her if she knows much about, Roland Garros — the pilot the tournament was named after — and she in turn asks the woman to enlighten her with info on him.

    Sharapova’s press conferences are often more like back-and-forth dialogues rather than simple question-answer routines.

    One journalist asked her if she was looking forward to return to the Philippe Chatrier centre court for her third-round on Saturday and she immediately quizzed him on how he knew the schedule so early?

    The following exchange took place:

  • Kristyna Pliskova questions legality of Serena Williams’ catsuit, Elina Svitolina hails its ‘strong message’

  • Journalist: What’s your feeling before returning on the center court for the next round? You have great emotion on the Philippe Chatrier?

    Sharapova: Do you know the schedule?

    Journalist: Could be very possible to be on center court.

    Sharapova: I don’t know. Yesterday I got the schedule at 7:30 p.m., so if you know the schedule today for Saturday, please let me know (smiling).

    Journalist: Because it’s [No. 6 seed Karolina] Pliskova and it’s possible to be on centre court. If you are on centre court, what will be your emotions or…

    Sharapova: Well, there is also Sharapova. So…

    It was a brief but telling moment from the Russian five-time Grand Slam champion — two-time winner in Paris — who reminded everyone that her presence alone can warrant a Centre Court assignment.

    She then continued to answer him, adding: “Well, I would love to be there again, of course. And, yeah, I think from a draw perspective, it’s an anticipated seeding match of, you know, if those two seeds kind of went through, it’s a match that maybe people anticipated. And it’s been a while since I played Pliskova. It will be our first meeting on clay.

    “As you said, it’s been a few years since I have been back on the court; so if I do have a chance to play on it I will welcome it with open arms, and if it’s another court then it will be great.”

    Later in her presser, veteran Spanish journalist Manolo Poyan asked Sharapova about her lefty forehand shots which she sometimes pulls off during her matches. The right-handed ex-world No. 1 can switch her racquet to her left hand and hit a forehand instead of a winner. It doesn’t always work, but it has on several occasions.

    “I grew up naturally left-handed, so I do a lot of things with my left hand, and I played tennis with my left hand for some time, so I sometimes do it on the run. It’s called the desperate shot,” she said with a laugh.


    Another must-attend press conference at any tennis tournament is that of Andrea Petkovic.

    The charismatic German can steer conversations into art, film, literature and anything else you can think of. The ever-interesting Petkovic, who is into the French Open third round, where she faces top-seeded Simona Halep, has been writing for a couple of magazines, in English and in German. She joked that if we knew anyone interested in hiring her as a columnist, we should let her know.

    “I’m writing for Süddeutsche magazine. This guy here is the boss, in the front, of that,” she said in her press conference on Thursday.

    “So I’m writing a column, which appears Mondays. About — well, it’s kind of complicated to explain, actually. It’s about films, more or less. I always pick one film that I talk about, and then I sort of make a connection to my life. It’s makes more sense when you read it than now when you actually hear it.

    “But, yeah, and then Racquet, and that’s it. And that’s more than enough for now. But if you have a job for me, I’m always here. I need some extra cash on the side.”