On Monday, Maria Sharapova hit with Rafael Nadal on the practice court in Rome. In the press conference after her win over Ashleigh Barty, the Russian player revealed how this idea came up.
'I saw he was practicing on the court right before me,' Sharapova revealed. 'And I said to my team, I was like, "Wouldn't it be amazing if I just came up to Rafa and said, 'Would you hit a couple balls with me?'" And they're like, "Yeah, what's wrong with that?" And I was like, "a lot of things. There's a lot of things wrong with just coming up to Rafa." They're like, "No, you should." I was like, "Really? You think I should?" And so I did. And he was, like, yeah. He probably thought I was really weird. I think he still thinks I'm really weird.'
Before making the request, Sharapova tried to calm herself down: 'I was like -. Let's not get crazy. Actually, that's what they said. It's not like you're asking him to go on a date. You're just asking him to hit a couple of balls with you. I was like, Listen, you gotta hit a couple balls with Rafa on clay, you know. It's like a check on the bucket list, definitely. Yeah. I was so nervous. I was tight, really tight.'