Five of the Top 8 seeds, including defending champion Ashleigh Barty and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka, as well as three-time champion Victoria Azarenka met with reporters at Miami Open Media Day on Tuesday.
From Barty's long and winding road back to Miami to Osaka's thoughts on her sister Mari's recent retirement announcement, here are the best moments from Media Day.
Miami Draw: Barty, Osaka back in action, Halep and Gauff on course for early showdown
World No.1 Barty detailed her cancellation-laden 50-hour journey from Australia to Miami. It was the Queenslander's first trip overseas since returning home after the 2020 Qatar Doha Open 13 months ago.
"It was a long one," Barty said. "It was about 48 hours, 45 hours door-to-door, for us. What should have been quite a simple Brisbane to Sydney, Sydney to L.A., L.A. on to Miami, it's usually quite an easy trip. We had a fight cancellation leaving Australia, another fight cancellation when we got to L.A. It was quite a wriggle around.
"Now we're here. Tough playing tennis after traveling again. Quite a while since I've done that. I'm looking forward to feeling good in another day's time and we'll be ready to go."
"Nice to be back competing, doing what we love. Obviously a tournament we have so many good memories. This week for me a couple of years ago was one of the best of my career where I played consistent tennis throughout the whole week.
"Looking forward to challenging myself once again to try to bring that tennis."
Barty was also asked about the spread of titles over the first three months of the season. She was surprised that people remain surprised.
"I feel like we've had this conversation over a number of years now, where it was almost a surprise to a lot of people that the depth was so good in the WTA," she said.
"But to all of the players and certainly everyone that I speak to, it's a testament to everyone who's out here working their backside off, trying to be the best that they can be.
"It's amazing to think there is so much depth. It makes for a really healthy competition knowing every single match you have to be near your best level to compete. That brings out the best in everyone. It's pushing everyone to continue to drive to be better.
"But, yeah, I've been asked this question quite a number of times over the last three or four years. To me, it's quite surprising that everyone is still surprised, if that makes sense.
"I feel like the tour has an exceptional depth now. It's really exciting for everyone moving forward."
Eighth seed Bianca Andreescu says she's feeling "really, really good" as she readies for the Miami Open. The Canadian star, who is set to play her third tournament since 2019, was asked to reflect on balancing the fact that she has achieved great success so quickly in her first full season on the tour, only to be sidelined by injury and the pandemic over the last year.
"Yeah, it's very weird," Andreescu said. "My success came very quickly. Very, very quickly. It was for sure overwhelming at first. But I think I dealt with it very, very well. I actually enjoyed it.
😈 @MiamiOpen @JJlovesTennis @WTA pic.twitter.com/WYC6SODTR2— Bianca (@Bandreescu_) March 21, 2021
"Then having a year off was very surprising and very abrupt after having a very successful year. That was weird. But I tried to deal with it in the best way that I could.
"Then coming into Australia, I had a very good pre-season. I was feeling pretty good out there. It's different than playing matches, obviously. I was a bit rusty. I don't feel like I was where I wanted to be at the time.
"It's a process. I've been saying that. My team has been saying that. I'm trying to be as patient as I can to get back up there to feel very good on court. That's just going to take more matches to play.
"This is going to be my third tournament of the year after such a long period off. Still having that ranking gives me confidence, for sure. Hopefully I can just continue to do well and bring back that momentum from 2019 into 2021."
Andreescu was also pleased to welcome Leylah Fernandez to the Canadian winner's circle. The 18-year-old captured her first WTA title over the weekend at the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico.
"I've practiced with her many, many times. She's a really nice girl, very hard working. I think she has a lot of potential in this sport to do very, very well for many years.
"I actually congratulated her. I texted her after the tournament. I'm super happy for her. I hope she continues to do well."
Insider Preview: Osaka and Muguruza eyeing Miami breakthroughghs
Naomi Osaka: "I actually don't feel any pressure. It's not like I'm defending here. I've never even made 2nd week here before. I feel more fun, like excitement. I want to see how well I can do.”— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) March 23, 2021
On a 21-match win streak, looking to make it past 3R for the 1st time. #MiamiOpen pic.twitter.com/6fyhLYL0Cj
World No.2 Naomi Osaka was in good spirits as she spoke to the press for the first time since winning the Australian Open. The Miami Open affords Osaka the time to return to Florida and see her family.
"I always have really fond memories whenever I came back to Florida and play this tournament," Osaka said. "I think for me, playing on those public courts with my sister, it shaped me in the way that I was very tolerant just because we would play for hours on end. It was really fun times. I always have a lot of memories whenever I come back here."
In her 1st WTA presser at 2014 Stanford, Naomi Osaka said her best win was beating older sister Mari, who announced her retirement this month.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) March 23, 2021
Four Slams later, nothing’s changed.
“I'm the mean sister, she's the nice sister."#MiamiOpen pic.twitter.com/YGpbBnx8UU
Staying on the theme of nostalgia, Osaka was asked about her older sister Mari's decision to retire from professional tennis, which she announced earlier this month.
"I've always felt like it's a bit weird, but I'm only good at one thing, and that's tennis," Osaka said. "I sort of chased this relentlessly.
"For her, I felt like she was always a bit too nice. Like, I'm the mean sister, she's the nice sister. There were always situations where I thought she was really nice. There are things she's done that I thought to myself if an opponent cheats, she wouldn't cheat back, that sort of thing.
"I feel like she's really happy where she is right now. That's my biggest thing, just for my family to be happy, for me to be able to be in the position to help her maybe move towards another dream that she has."
Asked about the spread of results so far this season, Osaka said the results are only surprising to those who are not paying attention.
"I feel like everybody that you see doing well right now, you kind of see it coming," Osaka said. "For example, Brady, I could see that she was going to do well, sort of start going deeper in the draws. Muguruza, she's won two Grand Slams. It's not very surprising at all.
"I feel like the level of women's tennis has really risen. Everyone is really strong. Everyone has the capability of winning matches. It might not look like it from the outside, like outside people might say it's really random and whatever, but I think everyone is so strong so everyone has a chance to win."
Hagi is back! ⚽️ @Simona_Halep— Darren Cahill (@darren_cahill) March 22, 2021
#81 👏 pic.twitter.com/wNNjYHmhrO
Two-time semifinalist Simona Halep is playing her first tournament since getting her COVID vaccine. Halep has welcomed the peace of mind after a year of trepidation over traveling during the pandemic.
"I can say I'm a little bit safer now," Halep said. "But still I protect myself. We are still in the bubble, which is exhausting to stay in the bubble every week. But we have to respect the rules.
"I feel more relaxed. I feel more comfortable to travel now. That's why I decided to come here.
"A few weeks ago, somebody told me that you didn't play US Open, why are you playing Miami? I said it's a long time since August, so now I'm in a better position also mentally, and that's why I'm coming. So I'm happy to be there."
World No.4 Sofia Kenin has recovered from her emergency appendectomy, which she underwent shortly after the Australian Open.
"I had surgery in Australia," the 2020 Australian Open champion said. "I had to get my appendix removed. I think that of course was unfortunate. I could use that time as a break to get it together and somehow just take my mind off tennis.
"Right now I'm just grateful to have fully in a way recovered after my surgery. I'm playing well.
"Given the circumstances, I still don't feel 100% with my tennis-wise since I took a few weeks off and everything. I'm just happy that I'm able to play Miami Open. It was my eye, that was what I was planning to shoot for, start again my tour. I'm super happy."
PHOTOS: A Decade of Miami Champions
‼️Leo has decided to skip this year @miamiopen to prepare the best for the upcoming clay season ‼️— victoria azarenka (@vika7) March 22, 2021
😂 😂 😂 pic.twitter.com/ZGNQNWMjHR
Victoria Azarenka has won the Miami Open three times, most recently in 2016. Her 2021 season start was derailed by an unexpected turn in hard quarantine in Melbourne, but the former No.1 says she has had time since to get her game back in order.
"I'm feeling excited to start this tournament," Azarenka said. "There was a bit of a challenging beginning of the year for me where I felt I was playing good, but I felt that some things were kind of catching, like little injuries. I felt that I wasn't getting on the right track.
"I took a couple weeks off where I had tournaments planned to try to get back on the right track. It was a bit challenging where I felt a lot like I'm playing a bit of a catch-up game, trying to compensate for what I kind of lost a bit in Australia. It didn't felt that I was kind of making the right decisions.
"After Doha, I took some time and I really put myself in a much better situation physically and mentally to be able to be here."
After recently posting video of her son Leo hitting tennis balls, Azarenka was asked what it was like to see her son play tennis. Much to the two-time Australian Open champion's chagrin, it turns out Leo has yet to discover the joy of his inherited backhand.
"He does not want to hit a backhand at all," Azarenka said. "I have to bribe him with things to hit backhands. It's really sad because I tell him he actually hits it so well.
"I say, 'Why you don't want to hit backhand? Your mom has a really good backhand. Genetically you will have a good backhand,'" Azarenka said, laughing.
"Tennis, he loves. His dad was asking him, 'What do you want to do when you grow up?'
"He said, 'I want to be like mama.' For me that was very heartwarming.
"As long as he loves playing, likes having fun, that's the most important for me."