WATCH: The media asked, and Venus Williams answered.


Belinda Bencic got the Roland Garros edition of The Week in Quotes off to a great start in her pre-tournament presser. Meeting with reporters following a practice session that left her tennis clothing stained with clay, she was asked how comfortable she felt sliding on the brick-red surface. She cheerfully replied: “Obviously I was sliding around perfectly, but on my butt and not on my feet.”

Here are some more pearls of tennis wisdom dropped during the first week in Paris, a week that was dominated by 23-year old, three-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka’s decision to avoid her media obligations. She subsequently withdrew from the tournament, citing mental health issues.

Some comments have been edited for emphasis:

That's the hardest part, to go back and look at yourself in the mirror and [realize], not good enough. . .There is no kind of [way] to sugarcoat it. It wasn't good enough and he was better. It's not that it doesn't work for me here. They've just been better than me, and that's the facts. Dan Evans, on his string of early-round losses in Paris, following his first-round defeat to Miomir Kecmanovic

I think Naomi, she's doing a lot of stuff for the tennis, for the players, and she's thinking about the mental health of the players. This is important, I think. I mean, she's young. Of course she wants to do it straight [directly], like young players—like young people. They are brave, they are straight, and "the revolution," you know, ‘Let's go.’ Elena Vesnina, the Russian pro who just returned from maternity leave, responding to Osaka’s decision to defy rules governing player participation in press conferences

I just couldn't make shots work. I was really, I would say, disgusted. Every tennis player feels the ball differently and every tennis player likes different balls. I don't want to say this ball (the Dunlop ATP used at Roland Garros last year) was bad; but the ball was bad for me. And only on clay, because I like the ball on hard court. Daniil Medvedev, the men's No. 2 seed, praising the tournament’s change to Wilson balls

In my opinion, just having a good relationship in media, it can help you. If I'm going to have a problem or something, I'm going to tell you that, ‘I'm not comfortable talking with that.’ If we're going to treat each other with mutual respect, I think everybody can benefit from that, so yeah. 20-year-old defending French Open champion Iga Swiatek, after her first-round win

I agree. What can I say? I've got to agree with the greatest of all time. You know if he says it, then it must be true, no? Yeah, definitely. It's obviously really, really amazing to hear it from him—but I don't think it's something that me and my team didn't know already. Alexei Popyrin’s reaction to Rafael Nadal’s prediction that the 21-year old Aussie was destined for stardom after Nadal ousted him in straight sets in the first round

Alexei Popryin, seen here in Madrid, had one of the week's best quotes in Paris.

Alexei Popryin, seen here in Madrid, had one of the week's best quotes in Paris.


I have just read a lot of things that were just unkind and very insensitive. And I just feel like there's no -- there's no room for that. There's no space for negativity. There's no room for, you know, kicking someone when they're already down. Like, I just don't see that as a way to go forward. Sloane Stephens, on the reaction to Osaka’s actions

I have said it many times, COVID, it changed my life in a good way. I see things differently, and I'm much more mature. I take it day by day now. I don't go ahead too much, you know, and I try to enjoy being in the moment, in the now, because you never know what more tomorrow will bring. I think this new mentality for me, it's working very well. Sorana Cirstea, on the improved play that helped her reach the third round at Roland Garros

It's disappointing to end like this. I've had my fair share of tears this week. It's all good. Everything happens for a reason. There will be a silver lining in this eventually. Once I find out what that is. . . No. 1-ranked Ash Barty after she was forced to retire during her second-round match with Magda Linette due to a surprise hip injury

That was a joke. That was a joke, because I'm going to get told off after he gets off the court that I said that. It was a joke. Elina Svitolina, after she told the crowd following her second-round win that she’s the “boss” in her relationship with fellow pro Gael Monfils

Marin had hit a serve once while I wasn't in position yet. And I thought he was working on his serve, which I thought was really odd, but it dawned on me that he must have been upset for a while and I told the umpire, ‘Why didn't you tell me? I did not know that he was upset’. . . I didn't feel like I was playing particularly slow. . . . now I can't go to the towel anymore, it's okay, I get it. Roger Federer, following his second-round win over Marin Cilic, a match marred by Cilic’s beef that Federer was ignoring the rule that stipulates that the match progress at the server’s pace

Roger Federer had a rare lengthy quibble with the chair umpire last week.

Roger Federer had a rare lengthy quibble with the chair umpire last week.

For me personally, how I deal with [media obligations] was that I know every single person asking me a question can't play as well as I can and never will, so no matter what you say or what you write, you'll never light a candle to me. So that's how I deal with it. But each person deals with it differently.” Venus Williams on her relationship with the press

Yeah. Well, I was really young. It's not like when you see at the Olympics, or where four people go down at the same time. It was just me. Tamara Zidansek, following up on her revelation that she enjoyed participating in the exciting and dangerous “boardercross” snowboard race event

Basta (That’s enough), basta. You meet me always [with] the same question, guys. You know already. Every time the same question. I tell you one million times in one month. Just copy and paste to Italian press. Italian veteran Fabio Fognini, in yet another press conference where he was asked right off the bat to explain why Italy is producing so many young stars

It's going very well. Every week we have more shelters that are putting their dogs and cats [on-line]. For me, they are not toys. When I see a video that they are abandoned, I almost cry when I see the video. That was the inspiration.” Alejandro Davidovich Fokina after his second-round upset of Casper Ruud, on—the platform he launched to help shelters place abandoned pets

It's an interesting position to be in because I've been in that position, too. . .they have nothing to lose. They just are hitting lines. You have to just realize that you can hit the lines, too. Serena Williams, on how she handles the challenge of playing against youngsters who idolize her

I played Iga here [last fall], and everybody was, like, ‘Oh, my God, [you lost] first round.’ I was like, ‘She played amazing. Just wait, guys.’ And she won the whole tournament. I was, like, ‘Yeah, I told you.’ So it was kind of funny.’ Marketa Vondrousova, the 2019 finalist, on her first-round loss last year


It takes a former French Open finalist to know one, as Marketa Vondrousova explained.

It takes a former French Open finalist to know one, as Marketa Vondrousova explained.

Today was similar to October. It was cold. The conditions was cloudy, and the ball was not jumping. So I was happy. Diego Schwartzman on the soggy conditions during his third-round win

I don't want to talk about my driving next to Lewis [Hamilton]’s name. I mean, honestly it's embarrassing to speak about my driving in the same sentence with Hamilton. I like to drive fast, but I have to respect the rules, I guess. I was never racing. But the analogy and the comparison of my game with an F1 car, it's definitely something that pleases me. Novak Djokovic after his third-round blowout of Ricardas Berankis, when told that Tennis Channel analyst Jim Courier compared Djokovic and his game to Hamilton and his car

I think he's talented, very, very talented, I would say, you know, and maybe more than me. Physically is very, very strong. With the ball, he can do whatever he wants. He has more options than me. Young sensation Jannik Sinner after his third-round win, on his fellow Italian rising star, and potential career rival, Lorenzo Musetti

I don't like a lot [to make] predictions. I just follow what really is happening, and what's happening is he won plenty of matches and that’s why he is in a high (No. 13) position in the race [to qualify for the year-end ATP finals]. Rafael Nadal, when asked how high Cam Norrie, his defeated third-round opponent, might rise in the rankings

On the pro tour, there is not many matches where players are going to check out. In juniors sometimes you have a lead, maybe 6-2, 3-0, 3-1, and you'll notice players start to check out. Here it's not like that. I feel on edge really until the last point is played. Coco Gauff, following her third-round win

. . . Having a match like this, knowing I could have probably played a fifth set but not knowing how I will wake up tomorrow is interesting, to say the least. Yeah, it's definitely a different time right now for me. Roger Federer, after his late-night, third-round win, barely 12 hours before he withdrew from the French Open

I'm kind of in the present [now], where before I was like, ‘Oh, my God, quarterfinal. Oh, what's happening?’ When I was actually playing the quarterfinal. . . I will never forget that match. 6-1, 4-1 up against [Francesca] Schiavone. I was just so in the emotions. I was like everywhere. I was too young. I didn't know how to handle it. I think it was my first quarterfinal at a Grand Slam. I didn’t know how to handle it. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a quarterfinalist for the second time at Roland Garros, describing her 2013 appearance at that stage

In Grand Slams, it's all about the endurance and being able to show up and do your job once every two days and do it well. Of course, you have to show up for work every single day, whether that's a practice or a match. It's demanding. It takes a lot of attention, a lot of effort. I've actually grew up into loving that process and wanting to repeat that. Stefanos Tsitsipas, after reaching the quarterfinals

I'm really a calm person, but . . .to hold everything inside, it's not possible. One day it's going to explode, and who knows when, so it's dangerous for other people, especially close ones. Elena Rybakina on her poker-faced demeanor, after her fourth-round upset of Serena Williams