Maria Sharapova revealed how the hit that went viral - her practice session with Rafael Nadal - came about after her win in Rome on Tuesday.
WTA Staff
May 15, 2018

ROME, Italy - What do you get when two of the most decorated athletes in tennis cross paths in a practice session?

A viral video, of course.

Tennis fans around the world were buzzing when two of the sport's greats - Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal - shared a hit at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia earlier this week. 

But just how did this star-studded television terre battue special come to be?

"I saw he was practicing on the court right before me, and I said to my team, 'Wouldn't it be amazing if I just came up to Rafa and said, 'Would you hit a couple balls with me?'," Sharapova told the press after a three-set victory over Ashleigh Barty on Tuesday

"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.

"He probably thought I was really weird. I think he still thinks I'm really weird."

She continued: "I was like -- Okay. 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!'

"Listen, you gotta hit a couple balls with Rafa on clay, you know. It's like a check on the bucket list, definitely. I was so nervous. I was tight, really tight. I never thought that was on the bucket list until like 15 minutes before, and I was like, that would be pretty cool to check off."

The pair shared the courts for just a few moments and traded blistering groundstrokes from the baseline - and it was two-time French Open champion Sharapova who got the better of the 10-time King of Clay when his final shot went wide. 

"I always get nervous around other athletes," Sharapova confessed. "I think that's a respect level. I love being in their presence. I love seeing their mannerisms. I love seeing their superstitions. I love seeing the way they approach the day...their mentality.

"I've gotten a chance to sit next to some amazing athletes in this world and just pick their brain, and that's when I've really learned a lot."