WTA Insider rounds up the highlights from Media Day at the BNP Paribas Open, where defending champion Paula Badosa, 2018 champion Naomi Osaka, top seed Aryna Sabalenka, US Open champion Emma Raducanu and American Coco Gauff spoke to reporters ahead of the tournament.
Coco Gauff on turning 18 and being a role model
Gauff will celebrate her 18th birthday during Indian Wells on March 13. What's she excited about the most? Doing paperwork.
"No more having my parents fill out my documents and stuff, so I'm excited for that," Gauff said.
"I guess it's been three years since I really started playing on tour and the time has gone by fast. I really can't believe that I'm going to legally be an adult, but my parents won't see me as one."
Asked to reflect on her three years on tour so far, Gauff said she drew more pride in her off-court development.
"For me, honestly it's not the on-court accomplishments," she said. "It's more how I accepted everything and tried to be a role model for kids. I feel like the last three years so much has happened in the world and for me in my career. I think I've done a decent job in handling it all."
To that end, the 17-year-old American was asked about a bill moving through the legislature in her home state of Florida that would limit what classrooms can teach about sexual orientation and gender identity.
"I'm against it," Gauff said. "I think that these conversations are important, and for me, who has friends in the LGBTQ+ community, I couldn't imagine not being able to talk about your identity. I feel like that's something that is normal.
"Every [LGBTQ+] person I've known has known that they were part of that community since they were young. So I think it's important that they have those conversations in school because that is supposed to be a safe place to talk about everything. Like I said before - I think it was in 2019 or 2020 when I talked about the Black Lives Matter movement - I said it was important to have those conversations. Same stance on this.
"I think it's important to have those tough conversations, and from the people that I spoke to who are part of the community, it definitely makes a difference when you don't have to hide who you are."
Paula Badosa reveals the key to her first title defense
In October of last year, Badosa stormed through the draw to become the first Spanish woman to win Indian Wells, a victory that launched her into the Top 10 for the first time and ultimately qualified her for the WTA Finals.
Five months later, she'll try to defend a title for the first time in her career.
"I try to trick myself and say I won it in October, so I'm not quite defending it," Badosa said. "So it's not that much pressure.
"But still, I know it's a big title. I want to play match-by-match. I want to get my best tennis on court, to enjoy competing. That's a little bit the key of last year, I was enjoying every minute on court. I was fighting for every ball until the last one and that's what made me win so many matches and get to World No.4.
"There are no secrets. You have to fight. Of course, you have to have talent in tennis, but in my case I think I have to find that competitive level and don't let the pressure get into me a lot."
Aryna Sabalenka speaks out in support of her Ukrainian colleagues
Top seed Sabalenka said the mood is somber in the locker room at the moment, as the collective player body deals with the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"Honestly, I'm not trying to look a lot at my phone right now because everything I see there makes me really sad," Sabalenka said. "Every time I just pray for peace."
"I don't feel anything [bad] from the Ukrainian players. I still speak with all the girls and we're still friends, but right now everyone is just worried. It's not like everyone is really happy inside the player's area. No one is really happy like it used to be. Everyone is really worried but we still talk to each other. It's not a conflict between us."
"I can wear [the ribbon in support of Ukraine]. I don't feel bad wearing it. I feel people need our support. I just hope people understand that we are all really worried. I think even the word 'sad' is not even the right word. We all care about them and we all hope for the best and for peace."
Emma Raducanu ready to put injuries behind her
The reigning US Open champion says she's ready to go after a left leg injury forced her to retire in the first round of Guadalajara two weeks ago. The 19-year-old Brit has been snake-bitten by injury and illness to start her 2022 campaign, from testing positive for COVID during the pre-season to the blisters that hampered her at the Australian Open.
"It's all part of it, all these spanners in the works," Raducanu said. "I feel like I can take whatever bad luck is thrown at me after all the good fortune I had last year."
Naomi Osaka embraces evolution
Osaka captured her first title at Indian Wells in 2018, with a dominating run that included wins over two Top 5 players in Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova. Osaka lost only five games in the final.
When asked about getting back to the level that helped mint her as a four-time major champion, Osaka said it's time to move on.
"I don't really live in the past anymore. I feel like that's tough for me because I'm a perfectionist. There's always that doubt in my head, 'Will I ever be able to play like this [again]?'"
"But the players I'm playing against are changing and I feel like everyone is improving and I can't necessarily say that I've regressed as a player. I think there are things that I've gotten much better at. I think life is a constant evolution."