"Yeah, we're going to dinner" - Maria Sharapova recounts losing bet to Novak Djokovic during their early years
Maria Sharapova recently recalled one of her first encounters with Novak Djokovic off the court. Sharapova spoke on the subject while appearing on "The Rennae Stubbs Tennis Podcast."
When asked whether she had any inkling that the 24-time Major winner would go on to have the illustrious career that he did, Sharapova first broke into laughter. She then gave an account of the time when Djokovic was not yet the dominant player he is today.
The Russian said that during an exhibition event, where they had been pitted against each other, Djokovic proposed a wager to her. He insisted that Sharapova would have to go on a dinner date with him if he got the better of her in their encounter.
"Oh god, no, I have this funny story with Novak. I remember we had won our first Grand Slams, it was at the time he was getting there, getting to the top and his body was not at the level of his tennis," she said.
"We played this mini-exhibition at Indian Wells. I don't remember what the bet was, but he said if he won the bet, we're gonna go to dinner. And I was like, 'Okay, fine, whatever, like it's going to happen'. And then he ended up winning and was like, 'Yeah, we're going to dinner,'" she added.
The 36-year-old further revealed how awkward Djokovic was during the dinner. She said:
"And it was so funny, he was like (at the dinner), 'Can we take a photo?'"
During the podcast, Maria Sharapova also showered rich plaudits on Djokovic for his dedication towards the game.
"I know him very well and it's incredible to see how passionate he is, and this element of longevity he has, how he treats his body, how his preparations are, it's fascinating," she remarked.
Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova have been friendly with each other for many years
Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova have seemingly been good friends since their early days. The Serb loves impersonating Sharapova's on-court mannerisms, particularly her pre-serve routine.
The two also featured together in a commercial by HEAD. The ad ended on a hilarious note as Sharapova accidentally hit Djokovic in his nether regions with a ball, before both broke into heaps of laughter.
The Serb also paid tribute to Sharapova when she retired from professional tennis in early 2020.
"She is a great fighter... the willpower and the willingness to overcome all the obstacles that she had - especially in the last five or six years with the injuries and surgeries, trying to come back to the court and play on her desired level - it's truly inspirational to see. She has the mind of a champion," he said back then.