A few days after her women’s singles victory in the U.S. Open, Italian tennis star Flavia Pennetta stopped by the Milan Expo as a guest of Coca-Cola.

The native of Brindisi, Italy, spoke about the “second life” of the Coca-Cola Pavilion, which will be donated to the city of Milan to become a covered basketball court after the Expo concludes later this month. “I believe this is a wonderful gift for the city, because thanks to this project many young people will have a chance to get familiar with sports and get some physical exercise,” she said. “As always, Coca-Cola is a step ahead when we’re talking about sports!”

In a candid interview with Coca-Cola Journey Italia, Pennetta talked about the excitement of winning the U.S. Open and shared a few details on her day-to-day life and future plans.

What was the first thought you had after your win?

I thought of my parents and my sister, who always support me.

Was it difficult to play against a friend like Roberta Vinci in the final?

Roberta and I have known each other since we were 9 years old. We have shared so many moments in our personal and professional lives, so playing one of the most important matches of my life against a dear friend like her was nice, but also very stressful. After the match, we hugged.

Have you noticed that Italian children are following your example and picking up tennis? What advice would you give young players who aspire to turn tennis into a professional career?

This excites me a lot. A few days ago, my mother told me that this year in Brindisi, many children have signed up for tennis. I think that’s great and, in general, I think that playing any sport should always be encouraged. To young people, though, I would say not to be in too much of a hurry to get ahead. There is always time to be a professional, but certainly not at age 12!

Do you have any superstitious rituals before matches?

I am not superstitious. I prefer to follow my routines to beat tension: eating well, sleeping – or at least trying to! – and trying to unplug. I always go for a walk to relax.

What is a typical day like for you during training?

I wake up at 7:45 a.m. From 9:30 to 11, I work out in the gym, and from 11:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. I practice tennis. After lunch, I’m back on the court or doing some other physical activity until 5 p.m.  

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to be with my family and friends.

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

Definitely not without tennis because this sport is my passion, in addition to my job. I would like to pass along what I have learned and experienced to young people. And I’d like to be part of a nice family with children, just like mine.

Are there any things you’d like to do when you have some free time?

I would like to learn to ride a horse well.

You travel a lot. Is there a country or a city that has stolen your heart?

We go all over the world, but the truth is that we don’t see much. We don’t have time to enjoy places. So, when I finish my competitive career, I will take a trip to see something besides a hotel or a tennis court!

#MyExpoCoke is a campaign started by Coca-Cola here at the Milan Expo where guests can dedicate a can of Coca-Cola to anyone. Who will you share yours with?

My father.