The Beyond The Baseline awards are our look back at the best — and worst — of the tennis season. Today we let the players speak for themselves with a collection of some of the most memorable quotes and zingers from the year. Click here for our complete archive of year-end awards.
• “I think I’ll put [up] a poster of myself now.”
– Sloane Stephens, after beating Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals. Before the match, Stephens told the media that she grew up with a poster of Williams on her wall.
• “I made you.”
– Serena Williams‘ seemingly innocuous tweet after the Australian Open that turned out to be not so innocuous.
• “She’s not said one word to me, not spoken to me, not said hi, not looked my way, not been in the same room with me since I played her in Australia. And that should tell everyone something, how she went from saying all these nice things about me to unfollowing me on Twitter. … Like, seriously! People should know. They think she’s so friendly and she’s so this and she’s so that — no, that’s not reality! You don’t unfollow someone on Twitter, delete them off of BlackBerry Messenger. I mean, what for? Why?”
– Sloane Stephens goes all in when asked about her relationship with Serena Williams in a late-March interview with ESPN The Magazine.
• “We were eating pizza!”
– Sloane Stephens, emphasizing the casual context of her meeting with the ESPN The Magazine reporter as a way to point out that she thought her comments about Serena Williams were off the record.
• “Less than you guys do.”
– Jamie Hampton, on what she makes of the “rivalry” between Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens.
• “Right now, I can definitely tell my grandkids [that] I kicked the butt of Roger Federer.”
– No. 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky, after stunning Federer in the second round of Wimbledon.
– Sergiy Stakhovsky, on how he was able to pull off the upset.
• “When you play Roger Federer at Wimbledon, it’s like you’re playing two persons. First you play Roger Federer and then you play his ego. When you’re beating one, you still have the other one who is pressing you. You’re saying, ‘Am I about to beat him? Is it possible?’”
– Sergiy Stakhovsky, on Federer’s presence at Wimbledon.
• “I’m black so I sweat a lot.”
– Gael Monfils‘ defense after he was issued a time violation at the Qatar Open.
• “The girls, they are more unstable emotionally than us. … I mean, it’s just about hormones and all this stuff. We don’t have all these bad things, so we are physically in a good shape every time and you are not. That’s it.”
– Jo-Wilfried Tsonga attempts to explain why there’s more inconsistency in the women’s game.
• “That was the perfect day. It was sunny. It was beautiful. Centre Court Wimbledon, it was packed. I won in two sets. I didn’t drop a set for the whole championship. Even in my perfect dream I couldn’t have dreamed a perfect moment like that. That is beyond perfection.”
– Marion Bartoli, after winning Wimbledon.
• “Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little, ‘You’re never going to be a looker? You’ll never be a [Maria] Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight.’”
– BBC commentator John Inverdale, during a radio interview after Marion Bartoli won Wimbledon.
• “I am not blonde, yes. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. I’m sorry. But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes.”
– Marion Bartoli, responding to Inverdale’s comments.
• “Well, I almost did the choke of the year right now. At 5-3 having so many chances, [I] couldn’t close it out. I’m glad I could just turn it around. I just felt a little bit overwhelmed realizing that I’m one step from the final and nerves got into me for sure.”
– Victoria Azarenka‘s initial comments after the use of a controversial medial timeout during her 6-1, 6-4 win over Sloane Stephens in the Australian Open semifinals.
• “Life gives you things and takes away close people in your life, and Jelena [Gencic] was my first coach, like my second mother. She taught me a lot of things that are part of me, part of my character today, and I have the nicest memories of her. … She worked with kids between 5 and 6 years to 12, 13 years old, and she was dedicating all her life to that generation and to tennis. She never got married, she never had kids, so tennis was all she had in life. She was 77 years old, and before she passed away two days ago, last week she was giving lessons to kids. So she didn’t really care about the nature of the illness. … She’s one of the most incredible people I ever knew.
– Novak Djokovic, on the death of his childhood coach.
• “Yeah, sure. Let’s see it that way. Great, we’re positive. It was great to win two sets off Novak [Djokovic] and losing four. Losing a match, it’s really exciting.”
– Roger Federer, at the ATP World Tour Finals, laid on the sarcasm when asked if he could take any positives from losing to Djokovic for the second time in three days.
• ”I miss some fire that people have in boxing or basketball or hockey. People like it and it makes it more competitive. Here, it’s like, ‘He did a great game and I was a little bit better.’ No. It’s bull****. ‘S***, I won the match, I kicked his ass, he was worse than me, that’s it, go home.’ That’s the attitude tennis is missing. … Young guys coming up, they only see Roger [Federer] and Rafael [Nadal] interviews, which are always picture perfect. For me, they’re boring. Not as people, but the interviews are boring.”
– Ernests Gulbis on why there’s too much civility in the men’s game.
• “Well, if he gets that far.”
– Bernard Tomic, when asked whether he could beat Roger Federer in the third round of the Australian Open. Federer did indeed join Tomic in the third round and then defeated the young Aussie in straight sets.
• “There is no space!!”
– Viktor Troicki, during his famous Italian Open meltdown.
• “How many times?!?!?”
– Jerzy Janowicz, during his famous Australian Open meltdown.
• “There are people who live, breathe and dress tennis. I mean, seriously, give it a rest. She begins every interview with ‘I’m so happy. I’m so lucky’ – it’s so boring. She’s still not going to be invited to the cool parties. And, hey, if she wants to be with the guy with a black heart, go for it.”
– Serena Williams‘ offhand remarks, assumed to be about Maria Sharapova, while on the phone with her sister Venus get captured in a Rolling Stone profile.
• ”If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids.”
– Maria Sharapova fires back when asked at Wimbledon about Serena Williams’ comments in Rolling Stone.
• ”Hypothetically yes, technically no.”
– Milos Raonic‘s response when asked whether Juan Martin del Potro should have been awarded the point after Raonic touched the net mid-point and didn’t tell the umpire during a third-round match at the Rogers Cup.
• “I see him more than my mom actually.”
– Novak Djokovic, joking about his rivalry and relationship with Rafael Nadal.
• “They wanted Roger [Federer], but they had me.”
– Stanislas Wawrinka, joking about the support from Swiss fans at the ATP World Tour Finals.
• “When I have a smile on my face, I think I get more dangerous.”
– Jelena Jankovic.
• “Honestly, you got a problem? I’m not the one.”
– Serena Williams, during an on-court exchange of words with Jelena Jankovic at the final of the Family Circle Cup. Needless to say, Jankovic wasn’t smiling much after that.
• “I never saw her [play sluggishly] when she’s leading. Every time she has a lead, she’s running for the balls and she’s hitting those big serves. For some reason, every time she starts losing, she starts serving slower or not running for certain balls. … She’s the No. 1 player in the world, and she plays so well. She’s by far the best player. She deserves to be in this spot. But I think it’s also when you play, winning or losing, you have to be up there and be a good sportsman.”
– Jelena Jankovic, after losing to Serena Williams at the WTA Championships.
• ”You’re going to get through it.”
– Andy Murray, dedicating his Brisbane International title to one of his best friends, Ross Hutchins, who was diagnosed with cancer. Hutchins is set to return at the Australian Open next year.
• “I don’t want anyone out there on the court with me. It’s my moment. I grew up when tennis was just about you. I’m going to leave the sport with it just being about me.”
– Serena Williams scoffs at the idea of on-court coaching.
• “Someone told me today I passed $50 million [in career earnings], but half of that goes to my Uncle Sam. I love him. I’m always giving him half my money.”
– Serena Williams, after winning the U.S. Open.
• “He was practicing with his shirt off.”
– Victoria Azarenka explains how Rafael Nadal persuaded her to root for him in the U.S. Open final.
• “Don’t worry. I will lose. Everybody lose.”
– Rafael Nadal, after winning his first 22 matches on hard courts this season. The streak ended at 26 with a loss to Novak Djokovic at the China Open.
• “The story of my life: When I lose, people are shell-shocked to see me play this way. If I win, it’s the best thing.”
– Roger Federer, after losing to Tommy Robredo in the fourth round of the U.S. Open.
• “I never heard somebody yell out from the stands, ‘You’re our last hope.’ That was new.”
– Tim Smyczek, then ranked No. 109, was the last American man standing at the U.S. Open.
• “Well, I’m 21 years old. If I lost faith in my career at this point, that would be pretty embarrassing. So, no.”
– Ryan Harrison, after losing to Rafael Nadal in the first round of the U.S. Open, on whether he’s lost faith about making a big breakthrough. Harrison fell out of the top 100 this season and still hasn’t advanced past the second round of a Grand Slam tournament.
• “Oh, s***.”
– Francesca Schiavone‘s reaction after being drawn to face Serena Williams in the first round of the U.S. Open. Schiavone lost 6-0, 6-1.
• “I was so nervous! Do I have to bow? Do I have to, like, curtsy or something? I gave her a high five and then a hug. So there you go. It’s a little more laid back than that.”
– Madison Keys, on meeting First Lady Michelle Obama at Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day before the U.S. Open.
• “And because of [the doping control officer's] negligence and because of her unprofessionalism, [Viktor Troicki] is now off the tour for one year. And now it makes me nervous as a player to do any kind of test. … I don’t have trust in [the doping authorities] anymore.”
– Novak Djokovic, in a 1,000-word statement, blasts the ITF and WADA over Troicki’s suspension.
• ”I would call it steamy, but just for different reasons.”
– Maria Sharapova, when asked what Sugarpova flavor would best describe her first four matches at the Australian Open.
– Ernests Gulbis picks his favorite to win the U.S. Open after losing to Andreas Haider-Maurer in the first round.
• “That’s interesting wording. I think everyone would watch that.”
– Laura Robson gets a bit X-rated during an interview at Wimbledon when asked if she would want to watch Serena Williams and Andy Murray “get it on” in Las Vegas.
• “So I would like to say, Welcome to the crazy women’s tennis tour.”
– Li Na, after beating Simona Halep at Wimbledon by the wonky scoreline of 6-2, 1-6, 6-0.
• “I don’t get a handout just because I’ve had five surgeries in my career. It’s not like that. You have to earn everything. You can’t buy ATP points. It’s not possible; otherwise, [Ernests] Gulbis [who comes from a wealthy family] would be No. 1 in the world.”
– Tommy Haas, on the hard work he’s had to put in over the course of his injury-laden career.
• “Well, he’s my father. He thinks I can be beat Rafael Nadal on clay.”
– Maria Sharapova disagrees with her father’s belief that she’s a born champion.
• “I don’t live in the real world, so I don’t know. But hopefully it never stops. I mean, there are no other 20-years-olds like me. Might be a few, like Miley Cyrus or something, but other than that I’m pretty much riding solo on this train.”
– Stephens, on her globetrotting life as a 20-year old professional athlete.
• ”Because I’m stupid!”
– Li Na‘s response when asked why she fell down twice during the Australian Open final.
• “When I see Steffi [Graf], of course, she says to me, You should stop now and make the baby.”
– Kimiko Date-Krumm, who keeps trucking on at age 43.
• ”I was s******* myself.”
– Andy Murray explains what was going on in his head as he tried to close out the Wimbledon final.
• “I think most of the players don’t even notice these great people here who are working very hard to catch every word we are saying. And as I am speaking, he was typing exactly what I am saying. Wow, wow, wow, wow.”
– Novak Djokovic praises the stenographers who transcribe the words of players in news conferences.
• And finally, Maria Sharapova had this exchange with a reporter at the Australian Open:
Q. According to Forbes, Li Na is the second most paid female athlete in the world.
MS: “Since when do we pay attention to Forbes?”
Q. Do you feel like it’s an interesting thing to know?
MS: “Do you?”
Q. You are the most paid.
MS: “Do you think that they have my pass code to my bank account?”
Q. I don’t know.
MS: “Well, think about it [smiling].”