Say What? Top quotes of Roland-Garros 2021

Quips, slips and soliloquies from the stars of Roland-Garros in 2021.

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic Roland-Garros 2021 trophy ceremonyNicolas Gouhier/FFT
 - Chris Oddo

Whether on court or off it, the biggest personalities in tennis delivered wit and wisdom aplenty during Roland-Garros in 2021.

Here we look back on a fortnight’s worth of notable quotes from Paris.

"These are the kind of occasions, these are the kind of matches that you learn from the most. Knowing him and his team he's gonna come out much stronger from this match today and I definitely believe he's going to win many Grand Slams in the future." 

After the men’s singles final, Novak Djokovic tells Stefanos Tsitsipas and his team to keep their chins up because great things are sure to come. 

"Despite my loss today, I have faith in my game. I very much believe I can get to that point very soon. I was close today. Every opponent is difficult. … I think with the same attitude and the same - if I don't downgrade myself, I see no reason for me not to be holding that trophy one day.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas is upbeat after his five-set loss in the final to Novak Djokovic, and is ready to press on. 

“I'll be tuning in to the final. I think it's going to be some great tennis. Bara [Krejcikova] is making finals of both too. What a story. She's a machine. I just asked her if she set up a sleeping bag or a tent in the locker room, hanging out here night and day.

“It's just nice to see some players that love playing tennis, are out there for the love of the game, doing so well at this stage in their career. My hat is off to both of them. I think it will be a great final.”

Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 2021 Roland-Garros women's doubles runner-up, on the excitement she felt about the women’s singles final in Paris. 

Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Iga Swiatek, Roland Garros 2021, doubles final© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

"Definitely the best match that I was part of ever in Roland-Garros for me, and top three matches that I ever played in my entire career, considering quality of tennis, playing my biggest rival on the court where he has had so much success and has been the dominant force in the last 15- plus years, and the atmosphere which was completely electric. For both players, a lot of support. Just amazing."

Novak Djokovic, after his epic semi-final victory over Rafael Nadal. The Serb became the first man in history to own two victories over the Mallorcan at Roland-Garros. 

“I want to believe that the best is yet to come, so I think that's how I should approach the whole situation. I said to myself today, watching my friends... I was close to crying, it's always sad to lose, but then when I looked at my friends, I think there is much more important stuff in life than sometimes even this trophy.

“I feel loved. I think that's the best thing you can have is friends and a life outside tennis, as well, which actually even meant more than the trophy today.”

Roland-Garros women's singles runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, on the important things in life. 

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Roland-Garros 2021 fourth round©️ Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

“For now the favourite, maybe all of us.”

Giovanna Mpetshi Perricard, one of four French to reach the boys’ singles semi-finals at Roland-Garros, when asked which of the four was the favourite to win the title. Mpetshi Perricard lost in the semi-finals but won the boys’ doubles title with Arthur Fils. 

“No, no, it's going to be sad for everyone. But obviously I don't want to be in the same side of the draw next time. I think I'm a very good player on clay. I did great tournaments here in Paris, but always losing against Rafa the last few years. In semi-final, two times quarters. I want to play maybe Nole next time, but no Rafa!” 

Asked if he’d be happier when Rafael Nadal retires, Diego Schwartzman says no, emphatically, but the Argentinian admits it wouldn’t be so bad if he could get in the opposite half of the draw from the 'King of Clay' in Paris.

“I have to be deadly honest: I got stressed, starting thinking that I'm a point away from being in the final. I guess it's a rookie mistake. Good thing is that if I give myself a chance again to be in that position, then I know that I don't have to do it again.”

Maria Sakkari, reflecting on a heartbreaking loss to Barbora Krejcikova in the women's singles semi-finals, after becoming the first Greek woman to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam in Paris. 

Maria Sakkari, Roland Garros 2021, first round© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

“I wanted it so bad, maybe even more badly than the other four, that it was really special. It's tough to compare because it's always different, the emotions are always different. But for me it's my dream as a kid to win Roland-Garros. To be able to do it a second time in front of this crowd, I think it's really, yeah, maybe the best emotions that I've had in the end by winning this one.” 

Pierre-Hugues Herbert, on the significance of winning a second Roland-Garros men’s doubles title alongside long-time partner Nicolas Mahut. 

“I'm really happy to win my first match since three years ago, and it was great to be back on these courts. I love Roland-Garros, I love Paris, and today was a beautiful day. I went on the court, and I was just enjoying myself on the court.”

Russia’s Elena Vesnina, who returned to Grand Slam tennis for the first time since giving birth to her daughter Elizaveta in November of 2018. She reached the third round of singles and the final of mixed doubles. 

“I think she would just tell me that she's very proud. That's what I think she would do. She would just tell me just enjoy, keep going. It doesn't matter if you win or lose, you just have to do your best every single time you step on court, just focus on tennis, just play. Just play, just enjoy, just have fun, appreciate that you can be here and you can do what you love.” 

Barbora Krejcikova, explaining the constant, inspiring presence of the late, great Jana Novotna in her life. 

Barbora Krejcikova, Roland-Garros 2021, final© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

“Krejcikova could be the strongest, most mentally tough player I have ever witnessed."

Lindsay Davenport, commentating for Tennis Channel, on the remarkable resilience of Barbora Krejcikova during her epic semi-final victory over Maria Sakkari. 

“We are not turtles that we live 220 years. Let's enjoy it, c'mon!” 

Marjan Cuk, the coach of Tamara Zidansek, who entertained reporters with his refreshing views on life during a press conference. 

“To be honest, it's in the past, it already happened. After the match, Enzo, my hitting partner, told me this match will probably make me a champion in the future. I really do believe that."

17-year-old Coco Gauff, who reached the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros for the first time, after her loss to Barbora Krejcikova. 

Coco Gauff, Roland Garros 2021© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

"I’m not supposed to be here, in doubles. This is a comic situation.”

Alexander Bublik, who considered himself an unlikely doubles finalist in Paris, to umpire Marijana Veljovic before Saturday’s men's doubles final. 

“Piotr is one of my closest friends on the tour. He texted me last night at 2:00 a.m., ‘It's going to be a fun match.’ I was, like, ‘Yeah.’”

Tom Hill, coach of Maria Sakkari, on his friendship with Piotr Sierzputowki, coach of Iga Swiatek. No word on if he was able to get back to sleep that night! 

“I was not struggling at all with my motivation, but the game was just not there today. Like all the shots are missing power. They are not accurate enough. I'm not moving well enough, so everything in my game, there are some percents missing.”

Dominic Thiem, after squandering a two sets to love lead against Pablo Andujar. The two-time Roland-Garros runner-up fell in the first round in Paris for the first time in his career. 

Dominic Thiem, Pablo Andujar, Roland Garros 2021, first round© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

“Just what she's been through just says everything about her character. She's a fighter. She's been an amazing person. Honestly, when I found out the news, I have sent a message to Carla every week to see how she was doing, because I felt really close to this emotion.

“I had an occasion in my family where somebody's battling through cancer, and sometimes you feel helpless. But that one moment of encouragement hopefully sometimes makes a difference in somebody's day, and I'm so proud of her. I'm so happy that she picked up her racquet again and she's competing here.

“I'll be watching her play and I'll be cheering for her for sure.” 

Victoria Azarenka, speaking about the return to health of Carla Suarez Navarro, ahead of the Spaniard's final match at Roland-Garros. 

“I can never know the future, but I hope so. I hope that I can come many years in a row here, make great results, maybe win it one day. Just, yeah, interact with the public because I can speak French. Hopefully. That's definitely a better feeling than losing the first round, going home on Tuesday like I think two or three times I lost here Sunday. It's not a good feeling. I hope it's going to be better with every year.” 

Daniil Medvedev, who reached the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros after entering the tournament with a 0-4 lifetime record in Paris, hopes he can continue his upward trend into the future on the terre battue. 

Daniil Medvedev, Roland-Garros 2021© Cédric Lecocq / FFT