Maria Sharapova must have been riding a high after crushing Olga Puchkova 6-0, 6-0 in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday. Either that or ESPN’s Chris Fowler just likes living on the edge.
On the network’s set after her match, Fowler courageously asked the notoriously tight-lipped Sharapova about the rumors that she’s dating 21-year-old Grigor Dimitrov, who lost his first-round match. Sharapova was surprisingly game. And giggly.
Here’s a transcript of the exchange, which also included ESPN’s Chris Evert:
Fowler: Here’s another result to pass on: Grigor Dimitrov did lose in straight sets to [Julien] Benneteau. Any reaction to that score, Maria?
Sharapova: [laughing]: Oh, come on! You’re putting me on the spot.
Fowler: It’s been out there. It’s been reported.
Sharapova: It has now.
Evert: Why not? It’s ESPN. Come on.
Sharapova: I’m not saying anything. You can, but I’ve got nothing for you. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Fowler: I hope you have something for him. You have to console someone important to you.
Sharapova: He’ll be fine. Trust me. The way he plays, he’ll be fine.
Evert: [laughing] “He’ll be fine, trust me.” I’m sure he’ll be fine, Maria.
The wink-wink nudge-nudge from Evert, who knows a thing or two about dating a fellow tennis pro after being engaged to Jimmy Connors in the 1970s, elevates the exchange from awkward to awesome. Or awkwardly awesome. Never mind, maybe it’s still just awkward.
That’s about as close as you’ll get to a confirmation from Sharapova. For his part, Dimitrov is wisely keeping his mouth shut.
“People love gossip,” he said after the match. “Who doesn’t? But I believe it’s a privacy invasion. I don’t think that’s right. It’s not because we’re different, but because it’s not right to athletes in general. It should be forbidden to even be asked but it is what it is, right?”
(h/t The Changeover)