40 LOVE Inspirations: Ana & Monica
Published April 12, 2013 12:00
MIAMI, FL, USA - Fans often live for their favorite player's matches, but sometimes their favorite player did the same for THEIR favorite player's matches. In 40 LOVE Inspirations, wtatennis.com hopes to bridge the generation gap between the current WTA stars and their own idols from years past.
In her WTA bio, Ana Ivanovic says she started playing tennis after watching it on TV, in particular Monica Seles - she then remembered the phone number to a local tennis school and begged her parents to take her. She got a racquet for her fifth birthday and immediately fell in love with the game.
Here's Ivanovic in her own words on her inspirations and more...
Your bio says you begged your parents to take you to a tennis school after watching it on TV. Was there a match that inspired you the most, and can you talk a little bit about that match?
"Unfortunately I can't really remember the matches from that time. My memory for details like that isn't so good. But I vividly remember being so young and seeing Monica for the first time and being fascinated by the new activity I was watching. It looked like so much fun and I had to try it."
"When I was a bit older I remember seeing some of Monica's great matches against Graf, and it was very special when she won the Australian Open after her comeback."
What was it about Monica Seles that inspired you?
"I loved her intensity and aggression: it seemed like she made every ball count. She always looked very focused, playing in the moment. I admired that a lot. And then she was always very gracious after a victory or a defeat. I learnt from her in this respect."
Were there any other WTA players who inspired you while you were growing up?
"Although I was a big fan of Monica I also enjoyed watching Graf, especially her forehand, because that has always been my best stroke too. I was very inspired by Agassi, on the guys' side."
You're one of 21 players who have been No.1 - do you ever feel the greatness of that?
"I often forget how few players have achieved this - it makes me very proud. Thank you for reminding me! It's a huge honor to be classed among these women and it's something I'll always be able to tell my family when I'm old."
The WTA is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year - how do you feel about the strength of women's tennis today, with record prize money, fans and tournaments all over the world now?
"I think these are great times for women's tennis: we got through the financial crisis very well and even continued to grow. We've had such strong sponsorship partners who have given us amazing support and we've seen a lot of changes in social media, which I think makes it more exciting for the fans.
"One of the best things of recent years is the fantastic new stadiums that have opened, like Perth, Beijing and Madrid. They are a joy to play in, and I'm honored to have been among the first to enjoy these facilities when they were brand new. And competition is very strong, always with 10 or so women capable of winning Grand Slams. It's a good time to play and a good time to follow women's tennis."