Friday December 30th, 2011

Over here at Beyond The Baseline, we're quite thankful for the colorful cast of characters that we've come to call tennis players. From wily media veterans like Andy Roddick and Serena Williams, to emerging personalities like Li Na and Andrea Petkovic, you never know what you're going to get at any given press conference.

Here are some of the best quotes from the year in tennis:

Top 5 Quotes of the Year

5. After capturing the last Slam of the year at the U.S. Open, Novak Djokovic is determined to let loose:

"Last night I didn't have any gluten, and tonight I will have a bunch of gluten - and alcohol."

4. Kim Clijsters gets her revenge on Todd Woodbridge's erroneous speculation on Rod Laver Arena:

"Rennae Stubbs showed me a text message you wrote to her in Sydney. You said I was pregnant? Let me say what was written in the message. First of all it said 'she looks really grumpy and her boobs are bigger.'"

3.  A shell-shocked Roger Federer calling Djokovic's forehand return winner a lucky shot without actually calling it a lucky shot:

I believe in hard-work’s-gonna-pay-off kinda thing, because early on maybe I didn’t always work at my hardest. So, for me, this is very hard to understand how can you play a shot like that on match point.

2. Serena loses her cool again, and gives us all bunch of fun insults to work into our daily routines:

Aren’t you the one that screwed me over last time here? Yeah, you are. Seriously, you have it out for me? I promise you, that’s not cool. That’s totally not cool. I truly despise you.

If you ever see me walking down the hall look the other way because you’re out of control, you’re out of control. You’re totally out of control. You’re a hater and you’re just unattractive inside. Who would do such a thing? And I never complain. Wow. What a loser. You get a code violation because I express who I am. We’re in America last I checked. Can I get a water? Or am I going to get violated for a water? Really, don’t even look at me. I promise you don’t look at me because I am not … Don’t look my way.

1. Li Na thanks (is that the right word?) her husband for his support and inadvertently writes the best Valentine's Day card Hallmark never thought of.

"It doesn't matter if you are fat or skinny, handsome or ugly.  I will always follow you and always love you.

Honorable mentions:

Andy's awkwardness: "I think it's about time she stopped with that nonsense. Makes me want to throw up. It's disgusting. Yeah, it's disgusting. I was practising with him before the tournament. It's quite funny because she'd been writing about it on, you know, Twitter like all the time. And I was practising with him before the tournament and my mom was on the side. I said, when we were warming up, I shouted across the net, I said, Feli, if we sit down for a drink, if you could take a picture with my mom, because she thinks you're beautiful. She went bright red. I'm not doing it. I'm not doing it. Refused to take the picture. Quite funny. Not like her. Yeah, I hope she'll still be supporting me."

- Andy Murray, on his mom Judy's very public affection for Feliciano (cleverly nicknamed "Deliciano") Lopez. Not like her, indeed.

Cougertown: "I mean, yes, I don't like him like that.  I'm a cougar but not that much [laughter]. Oh man. Not that much of a 'coug'."

- Serena Williams, admitting to getting flustered upon seeing Justin Bieber at the ESPYs.

Sarcastic Sam: "I think my semifinal is at 6 p.m. on Grandstand, if anyone wants to watch the ONLY SEMIFINAL not on Arthur Ashe Stadium, come out tomorrow."

- Sam Stosur's tongue-in-cheek Facebook update calling out the U.S. Open's decision to put her semifinal match on Grandstand instead of Ashe.

From the mouth of babes: "To be honest with you, Federer, personally, if he had a little more fire, it would help him get back to the top."

- Nineteen-year-old Ryan Harrison, with some unsolicited advice for one of, if not THE greatest player of all time.

Takes one to know one: "He goes a little mental sometimes. That's coming from me, so...."

- Andy Roddick's assessment of Ryan Harrison.

Vera fires back: "I am not like Serena Williams as I can't serve aces. I am not like Maria Sharapova, as I can't hit a winner on every single ball. I don't have all these things and I am still among the top three players out there. So if you think I am not mentally tough or something, well how can I win the tennis matches then?"

- Vera Zvonareva, being questioned about her mental fragility.

Pova's potshot: "Because I didn't do the dance after.  I wasn't tired."

- Maria Sharapova, after her semifinal win over Andrea "Petko-Dance" Petkovic in Miami, responding to questions about being fresher in the third set.

Rallies? What rallies?: "I'm doing intervals. So in the beginning I started with 30/30, and the closer it gets to the tennis I start to do it as related as possible to rallies.  So 15 seconds, 15 seconds for my type of game is maybe the -- I think Karlovic does 2 seconds, 2 seconds."

- Andrea Petkovic, taking a dig at big serving Ivo Karlovic while discussing her fitness regimen.

Tell us how you really feel, Ernie: "Vodka is dangerous. You really need to control yourself not to get a blackout. If you want to go easy, beer. I enjoy beer, but not this piss kind of beer you have in America."

- Ernests Gulbis, not a fan of American brews.

The Streaking Serb: "I don’t feel invincible. What I feel is big confidence. What I feel is that I’m playing the best tennis of my life.”

- Novak Djokovic, in advance of his clash against Rafael Nadal in the Miami final.

The Roddick Reminder: “I didn’t need this to define me. I didn’t need a great result. I shouldn’t have needed it to show you guys that I can play tennis.”

- Andy Roddick, on whether his quarterfinal showing at the U.S. Open takes the edge off his sub-par year.

No more lies: "I mean, hello? A loss? Yeah, I would be so happy. Yeah a lot of people say [the important thing is to play well]. I lie when I say that. Just to lie. I don't know why. I'm gonna stop lying now."

- Serena Williams, on what result would please her in her hard court return at Stanford.

Rafa has jokes: "I think I gonna do serve and volley."

- Rafael Nadal, joking about his new strategy against Novak Djokovic for the U.S. Open final.

A Venti "ajde" to-go, please:“Yeah, of course. Even the guy in Starbucks did that.”

– Ana Ivanovic, on whether Novak Djokovic has ever imitated her fist pump.

When press conferences get juicy:

Q. “Just talk about playing on a small court. Do you just feel your juices more intensely, feel more into the match …”

Andy Roddick: “I try not to feel my juices ever, Bill. But I appreciate your interest in them.”

Q. “That’s all I think about.”

Roddick: “Thank you. Creepy and inappropriate.”

Andy's hairy situation: "If I'd known they were coming, I would have shaved."

- Andy Murray, on meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after his fourth round match at Wimbledon.

Intimidation, Compton-style: “Yeah. I walk out there, do the Crip walk and try to intimidate them.”

Serena Williams, on whether she’s intimidating to other players.

A very public pain: “What’s it like?  It’s painful.”

– Victoria Azarenka, on what it felt like when Serena Williams built a 5-0 lead in 17 minutes at the U.S. Open.

Best press conference ever:

Q. You won the first set, then what happened after that?

Flavia Pennetta: She won the second and the third.

Same Same, But different: "She's coming back from injury, too.  A little higher ranked than me. Just 100 spots."

- Dinara Safina, in advance of her fourth round match against Maria Sharapova at Indian Wells.

Not everyone likes to dance: "I think, in the tiebreaker, I felt like she hit one or two double faults and didn't hit the returns quite as she's used to. Because I told her before the breaker, I thought it would be motivation but obviously it was some kind of scaring her.  I told her "Ana we do the Petko dance if we win!" and I thought like, she's gonna go like "Yeah!  Now I'm going to run even more!"  but she went, like "Yeah. I'm going to serve two doubles and not put the return in." So I think she was scared back then."

- Andrea Petkovic, on mistakenly using the Petko-Dance as a motivational tool in her doubles partnership with Ana Ivanovic.

Hey buddy, can you pass the soap?: "The problem with having superstitions is, you know, you become very sort of attached to them. Then, you know, if you always go in the same shower and then you finish your practice and you go to have a shower and someone's in it, you're not obviously going to jump in there. Well, you could, but I choose not to (laughter)."

- Andy Murray, on the precarious nature of superstitions.

What you don't know can't hurt you: “It’s not like you guys are a bunch of aliens sitting there and I should be like, ‘Oh, my God, freaking out.’ It’s definitely fine for me. Should I be scared or something?”

- Sloane Stephens, on whether she’s comfortable dealing with the media.

Sagely Serena: “I told her never look through the guy’s phone. That is the worst thing you can do. I told her most relationships end. It wasn’t very good advice.”

- Serena Williams' relationship advice to Caroline Wozniacki.

Maaaaaybe: “Maybe something is missing upstairs.”

- Gael Monfils, on why he dives on hardcourts even though it hurts.

Best fake bad guy since Severus Snape (spoiler alert?):

Q. You've been here [at Wimbledon] a long time now. At one point you were the bad guy upsetting Tim Henman.

Andy Roddick: Actually, I never played Tim Henman here. But I'm still the bad guy. Point taken, but... (Laughter.)

Q. You got good support today.

Roddick: It felt great. They've always been great to me, even when I was fake beating Tim Henman (smiling).

He has a gift for understatement: “Well, I mean, try being a British player going into a Grand Slam.  It’s not easy (smiling). “

- Andy Murray, on why he was nervous at the start of his first-round match against Somdev Devvarman.

Let them drink beer!: “I mean, I think at midnight they have an excuse. I mean, they’re watching women’s tennis at midnight (laughter).”

- Maria Sharapova, on drunk and rowdy fan behaviour at late night matches at the U.S. Open.

No. You're that good.: “Oh, God, am I that bad?”

- Andrea Petkovic, on her personality being compared to Marat Safin’s.

Soon to be listed on eBay...: “There was an antique store open down the street, which I thought was probably the best day of their life because of everyone walking around. They never thought they were going to sell that old giraffe that’s been there for a hundred years (laughter).”

–  Maria Sharapova on what she did while waiting out on Hurricane Irene.

A for effort: "He doesn't even look like he's trying when he plays, so how you gonna get hurt?"

- Andy Roddick, on Roger Federer's relatively injury-free career.

Creative analogies: "For example, I can tell you who is my girlfriend, but I cannot tell you what I do with my girlfriend. There is a difference, just to make it clear."

- Novak Djokovic, on why he won't go into details about his gluten-free diet.

Put the disco stick down, Bethanie: "I don't know that I would be able to play in a meat dress or anything. I was thinking of stapling some bacon on my shoulder or something, but I don't know how that would work out in the sun."

- Bethanie Mattek-Sands, on being called the Lady Gaga of tennis.

Role model: "I must say that the role of tennis players I like more than the role of models."

- Petra Kvitova, after doing a photo shoot for Elle Magazine.

Children should be seen, not heard.: "He asked her a few questions and she didn't answer, so he went back into his normal dialogue, which is Caroline doesn't say anything."

- Lindsay Davenport, commentating during a coaching timeout between Caroline Wozniacki and her father Piotr in Istanbul.

180 degree turn: "So now I change my mind -- I like clay court."

- Li Na, turning over a new leaf after winning Roland Garros.

Serena Williams, tennis ambassador: "Yes, I'm super-happy that I lost. Go, women's tennis."

- Serena Williams, on whether her loss to Marion Bartoli at Wimbledon showed the depth in the women's game.

Rafael Nadal, philosopher: "When you compete at the highest level, you have to understand and you have to accept that every time when you go on court you can win and you can lose. That's part of the game. That's the toughest part of the game. But at the same time, it's the really beautiful part of the game. If you don't lose, you cannot enjoy after the victories. So I have to accept both things."

- Nadal, discussing his confidence level after losing his first match in Montreal.

The kids call it "being emo": “I think if I thought about every shot that I missed then I’d just be … manically depressive.”

- Laura Robson, after her third round loss at the U.S. Open.

• You're forgiven, Sveta: "At some stage I was like, what's the score? Who's serving? I was like, what's going on anyway here? I had no clue sometimes. It was so hard to count. I was like, who is up? She? Me?"

- Svetlana Kuznetsova, after playing the longest Grand Slam women's match against Francesca Schiavone at the Australian Open.

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat: “Look, it happens sometimes. That’s why we all watch sports, isn’t it? Because we don’t know the outcome and everybody has a chance, and until the very moment it can still turn. That’s what we love about the sport, but it’s also very cruel and tough sometimes.” – Roger Federer, after his U.S. Open semifinal loss.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.