Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova, two of tennis’ biggest stars, jumped on Instagram Live Tuesday to chat about everything from tennis and their mindsets to life off the court. One of the session’s funniest moments came when Sharapova recalled her first memory of the current World No. 1.
“I remember we played this little exhibition. I was young, you were young, way before you had any Grand Slam titles. I don’t know if you’d even won a tournament at that point,” Sharapova recalled. “You said that if you’d win, I would have to pay dinner. I was like, ‘Okay, whatever, who is this kid?’ You won and you were like, ‘We have dinner tonight. We’re going to the Japanese place!’ I was like, ‘Are you serious? You and me, going to dinner, tonight?’ So we did. We ended up going to dinner and it was so funny because you pulled out I think it was an old Kodak camera and you asked the waiter to take a photo of us… and here we are.”
“Maria is saying the truth,” Djokovic said.
“I think you were fanboying,” Sharapova replied.
Djokovic added that he lost the camera — and with it, that picture — but he wasn’t done with the story.
“You have to admit to everyone here that you lost on purpose!” he said, joking.
At one point, Djokovic discussed some of his hobbies, including reading and watching videos about health and wellness, mental health, spiritual health and so on. That was when Sharapova chimed in.
“It’s really admirable to watch you gain this interest throughout the years because I will say, and you’ll probably admit to it, but at the beginning of your career you struggled so much with your body and the length of matches,” Sharapova said. “I remember watching you on the clay and all the cramping and being like, ‘Are you ever going to get your s*** together?’ To see you make a transformation, what I loved about this sport… our game and our results really did the talking for us.”
Djokovic, who is in Spain, has seen some videos of Sharapova working out at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, which led him to some reflection.
“When you’re an athlete and used to these things, it’s such an integral part of your day, that it’s almost impossible to think about days when you’re not doing something, even if it’s stretching, yoga, whatever it is. I’ve been trying to do that. But there have been some days where I just haven’t done much physical activity at all. And that’s fine,” Djokovic said. “At the end of the day, we have to slow down and I think this whole thing that is happening, on a brighter side, allowed us to have time to reflect on ourselves and our lives, really understand how we want to move forward because we don’t know what’s going to happen, what are the ramifications of coronavirus on the tennis world.
“What we can do is we can encourage ourselves to take matters into our own hands and really try to learn new skills and work on ourselves, on every aspect of our being, and do some things that attract us, that are our hobbies… that we never had time to do.”
Although far from classing himself a master chef, Djokovic says he enjoys preparing one meal each day.
“I must admit my wife does more cooking for me. I am more of a breakfast, brekkie as they like to say in Australia, kind of person. I like to make juices, smoothies, breakfast bowls, those types of things. Avocado and toast, stuff like this with tomatoes,” Djokovic said. “We have been spending a lot of quality time with each other.”