About 90 minutes after Agnieszka Radwanska became a national story, she was in the player’s dining room telling two adoring young ladies what she had for breakfast.
“Let’s see,” she said, bursting into a smile, braces and all. “I had a bagel. With cream cheese! And I had a piece of a lemon cake and orange juice.”
Her fans said they’d have the same breakfast tomorrow. Radwanska giggled, like the 18 year old she is, and then stood at the chef’s line wanting some lunch. Rafael Nadal moved right next to her in line but he didn’t say a word.
“I met him once,” she said quietly to me. “But I don’t think he remembers me.”
She couldn’t get the chef’s attention, so she screamed in slightly broken English “excuse me” and ordered food, even though she wasn’t very hungry. “I know I’m empty down here,” she said, gesturing toward her stomach, “but I don’t feel it up here,” this time pointing to her throat. When I said to her that her win was one of the biggest stories in the country today, she laughed. “I like that! I did it at Flushing Meadows!”
Then she flipped open her phone. “It won’t stop shaking. I got 25 messages in one minute!”
She ordered pasta with marinara sauce and began talking about the way she bounced in a few feet from the baseline to pressure Maria Sharapova’s second serve.
“I know she doesn’t like,” she said, “so I had to make sure to do it.”
She said she had calmed down considerably from earlier in the day, especially when she came up to the baseline to serve for the match at 5-2 in the third set.
“I mean, I was so nervous,” she said to the press earlier. “I mean, I was thinking that I have to hit the first serve, but I missed. Then second serve my hand was like this,” and she started shaking her hand.
But: “She missed three points on this game and she should not. She helped me out a bit in the last game.”
That was sort of the story of today’s remarkable upset. Radwanska, who had never beaten a big name in her career, remained steady and returned shots cooly under pressure, while Sharapova spent the afternoon spraying it all over the court.
And it was Agnieszka Radwanska — who goes by Aggie — who impressed both players and the hardened press corps. Before she went into her interview room, a USTA media relations official said, “You’re cool with this, right? They’re going to ask you a lot of questions.”
“I’m okay, but my English is not perfect,” said Radwanska.
There was a special request from the USTA to ask all English questions slowly. Naturally, within about a minute that request was forgotten and the press began firing questions as if they were talking to Andy Roddick.
It didn’t matter — her language was clean and lucid, much like her game today.
“Have you done many press conferences?” asked Bud Collins.
She said she had done a few.
“Because you’re doing great,” he replied.
She laughed and said thank you.