40 LOVE Icons: Virginia Ruzici

Virginia Ruzici had a sparkling career - highlighted by the French Open title in 1978 - and now she's back on the tour as part of Simona Halep's team. Catch up with the Romanian tennis icon here...

Published November 04, 2013 12:00

40 LOVE Icons: Virginia Ruzici
Virginia Ruzici, Simona Halep

SOFIA, Bulgaria - There was a WTA legend at the Garanti Koza WTA Tournament Of Champions this week, and she was with the top seed - Virginia Ruzici, Romania's only Grand Slam champion, is now managing Simona Halep's career, trying to help her countrywoman reach the same heights she did.

Ruzici was interviewed at the tournament, catching us all up on what she's been up to since her playing years, what she thinks of the tournament and, of course, what she thinks of Halep. Read on...

Have you ever been to Bulgaria before?
Yes, I played in the University Games a long time ago, back in 1977. And it didn't go too well for me!

What do you think about the Garanti Koza WTA Tournament Of Champions?
Beautiful tournament. I am truly impressed. The hall is fantastic - a good atmosphere with people who obviously love and know tennis. I'm surprised by how much support Simona is getting from the fans - that's great, and the organization has been fantastic. Our whole team is feeling great here in Sofia.

Simona was considered a favorite for the title coming in. What did you think?
Definitely, considering she won in Moscow and had a great year with five WTA titles. But whether or not we say she's the favorite, every tournament is another tournament. The conditions can be different, the court can be a little bit faster or a little bit slower, the ball may bounce a little bit higher... I really thought she would win the tournament, but on the other side we must not forget she has played a lot of matches and she's beginning to feel a little bit tired. Also we have to consider all of her opponents - Samantha Stosur is playing fantastic at the moment, Ana Ivanovic is in good shape also.

She started well against Pavlyuchenkova.
She needed to get used to the court, but it was a good thing she came here three days before the start of the tournament. Day by day things improved in her footwork.

How did you begin to work with Simona?
Five years ago when she won the French Open juniors I was living in Paris. After I retired from tennis I worked with IMG for five years. I worked with Monica Seles, Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario, Mary Pierce, Anna Kournikova. I worked from the Paris office. I was part of the organization of the Paris indoor tournament, and when Simona won the French Open juniors I saw something in her. I saw that she had Top 10 potential. She had no one to take care of her and no one came up and made a proposal to become her manager. We talked a little bit and that's how things started - it's been quite a while now.

Is there a difference between tennis today and when you won Roland Garros in 1978?
There's a huge difference in the sense that women's tennis is much more physical. Everybody is taking the ball much earlier, everybody is hitting harder and the racquet technology is much more advanced - I played with a wooden racquet. The players are also more complete technically, but maybe they have less touch, both men and women, with the exception of Roger Federer and Grigor Dimitrov, who are very offensive and complete. In women's tennis, since the retirement of Justine Henin, we haven't had a net player. I hope to see that kind of style in the future. I hope coaches pay more attention to this part of the game. Simona is trying to be a more complete player - she can volley, she can use drop shots, she can slice the ball - and as time goes by I think she will show her offensive tactics more.

Do you think Simona can win a Grand Slam title one day?
We should go slowly, taking things day by day. I definitely saw her Top 10 potential when she won the French Open juniors. Now with the impressive year she's had, I think she has Top 5 potential. If she stays away from injuries and pressure, she can have a chance of winning a Grand slam title.

Can she be the next Roland Garros winner from Romania?
She is capable of playing on all surfaces. She adapts very quickly. But yes, probably the easiest Grand Slam to win for her could be on clay.

Virginia Ruzici, Simona Halep

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