An interview with Georgina Chang, the ESPN-Star Sports presenter who those of us who watched Hopman Cup on livestream became very familiar with (I think she hosted that "Access Hollywood"-type tennis show).
Some juicy excerpts:
What do viewers miss seeing on TV that you’re privy to?
Off-cam, Federer is very pleasant. He will talk about anything and make humorous comments. He’s very personable.
Nadal is polite. Hampered by his lack of English proficiency, he’s quite shy and often looks to his manager for translations. Nadal is more serious when the camera rolls.
Sharapova is cold and unfriendly. Once she just stood and glared at me as we waited for the cameraman to frame the shot. All I had said to her was “Hi, Maria!” But she was suddenly all smiles and girly when the camera rolled.
Ana Ivanovic is simply lovely. She’s always breathless, smiling and talks a mile a minute. I just want to be her BFF!
At Wimbledon two years ago, I remember seeing Venus Williams canoodling in a quiet corner with her boyfriend Hank. They hadn’t gone public yet, but they would be standing close together talking.
You’re a huge fan of Federer. Has any other player left a big impression on you?
Rod Laver is my biggest legend to date. Despite his huge aura of importance, he was happy to sit down [for an interview] at impromptu notice. He had a soft spot for Nadal’s left-hand advantage for obvious reasons (Laver is left-handed). He was very obliging and offered extremely insightful advice.
Players like Andy Murray and Djokovic play extremely well but don’t necessarily find favor with spectators. What are they actually like among their peers, entourage, with the media?
Humility is not an adjective Novak is associated with. He is extroverted, loves the attention, and sometimes even seems to thrive in negative publicity. I can’t wait to see how he’ll work his “public relations” with the vocal Aussie fans this time.
Andy Murray doesn’t try to sugar up the media or the fans. However,
last year he told me his PR company had encouraged him to do more “fun”
interviews to improve his image.
Give examples of the most peculiar behavior you’ve seen from tennis pros off-court.
Llyeton Hewitt refuses to be interviewed by ESPN and most other American media. This was after that fracas with James Blake at the US Open where Americans accused him of being racist.
Andy Roddick refuses to be interviewed by any media other than ESPN and other American media.
Ivanovic likes to have the same breakfast from the same shop before all her matches.
What’s the worst you’ve seen of players who act like royalty?
Maria Sharapova—she is arrogant, unfriendly...I know plenty of her male fans are hissing at this, but her likability rating on the tour among players, officials and now the media is very low. She’s probably got a nice side, but doesn’t feel it’s necessary to be decent to people in general.
Who, on the other hand, are the most down-to-earth?
Most of them are terrific, very friendly. Ivanovic is the friendliest and most smiley. Federer is...professional, patient and gives sincere and personal answers.
The Croatians and Serbians (Ivan Ljubicic, Mario Ancic and Djokovic,
Janko Tipsarevic) give profound and meaningful answers. Sometimes I
need time to gather myself together afterward.
Marat Safin is full of dry humor and exudes such sexiness that I get all giggly around him.
I'm pretty sure I could only have the job for a day, seeing as how I would never get another interview with anyone given my inappropriate questions. But it would be an epic day.