Tennis star Maria Sharapova had an uncomfortable exchange with a male journalist that resulted in the journalist telling her “It’s not stalking if you love someone.” Any time a back-and-forth ends with that, you know things are weird.
Sharapova, who’s currently playing in the Australian Open, sat down for a news conference but was disrupted by the man, a New Zealand television journalist. It was the third time he caused some sort of disruption during a Sharapova presser over the last two weeks.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, he first appeared at the Auckland Open. After Sharapova beat Thailand’s Tamarine Tanasugarn in the first round, he accused her of calling him a stalker – an accusation she didn’t deny.
The journalist then asked her if she had had a problem with a stalker before, to which she said “Not until you, no.”
He then took out a sign that said “I am not a stalker” (something that usually screams “I am a stalker”).
“I don’t know why you’re here today,” Sharapova said, probably more than a little creeped out at this point. “That shouldn’t have happened. You even have a sign. Oh, goodness, that’s wrong,” she said.
Over the weekend, the man again showed up at a Sharapova media event, and asked her if she ever spent time with Anna Kournikova and visited clubs for “hot Russians.”
“You’re the guy from New Zealand, huh?” Sharapova said, when she recognized him. “Oh God, you’re stalking me!”
To which he then said, and yes, this is the creepiest part:
“It’s not stalking if you love someone,” the journalist said jokingly, to which Sharapova replied: “It can be slightly, trust me.”
Officials at the Australian Open have yet to decide whether to caution the guy or not. I don’t know all of the facts – for all we know, this guy is New Zealand’s version of a “Daily Show” correspondent. But, yeah, that last line is pretty bad, and at the very least, tournament officials should be looking into him.