Getting To Know... Mathilde Johansson
Published May 26, 2012 11:33
On Sunday the curtain will be raised for the 105th staging of the French Open and once again the host nation expects. World No.8 Marion Bartoli bears the brunt of these expectations, although there are a number of other actors eager to play their part in making it a successful fortnight.
Among this number is Mathilde Johansson. Twelve months ago Johansson, who resides in the Parisienne suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, fell to the in-form Julia Goerges in the first round, but with a kinder draw this time around she is hoping to give the Roland Garros faithful something to shout about.
And on the eve of the tournament Mathilde sat down to answer a few questions from wtatennis.com.
How did you first get into tennis?
MJ: My parents always played tennis for fun when we were on holiday in Sweden and me and my sister started coming along with them. At first we just watched, but as we got older they let us play the last 10 minutes with them. From then I was hooked!
Can you tell us a little bit about your family?
MJ: My dad, Peter, is a writer and artist and my mother, Christine, is a school teacher. I also have one sister, called Maya, who is a student - she originally went to college at UCLA but now is back studying in Paris.
What role did your family play in your tennis development?
MJ: They were all very supportive, especially my dad. He helped me a lot going when I was younger, coming with me to the practice and the tournaments I was playing. It's thanks to his help that I am what I am in tennis today.
How would you describe your playing style?
MJ: I'm an aggressive player and I really like to go for winners on court. I'd say my backhand is my strength and my best shot.
Who inspired your tennis as you were growing up?
MJ: I didn't really have any one player who was my hero. There were a few I liked to watch, though, like Sampras on the men's side and on the women's Seles.
What is the highlight of your career so far?
MJ: That would have to be my first selection for the France Fed Cup team. That was an amazing experience, particularly when I got to sing the French national anthem.
Who has been your toughest opponent?
MJ: There are so many players I have had tough matches against that I couldn't just pick one. It may sound strange, but I think my toughest opponent is myself.
What are your immediate goals for the coming season?
MJ: I would really like to break into the Top 50. I got close a few years ago when I got to No.59 so I'd like to go a few places higher some time soon.
What is your favorite surface and tournament?
MJ: My favorite surface is definitely the red clay as I grew up on it and it's where I've had lots of my best results. As for tournament, it would have to be the French Open because it's in my hometown, although I also really enjoy going to London and New York for the Grand Slams there!
How far did you go in your education?
MJ: I stayed in school until I completed the baccalaureate. Maybe one day I'll go back to education at university or something, although I'll have to wait and see how I feel at the end of my tennis career.
What do you like to do to relax away from the tennis court?
MJ: Like most girls, I really enjoy going shopping and also walking around in the cities we visit at tournaments as I love to discover new places.
Do you have a favorite book, movie, TV show or band?
MJ: My favorite book is The Help by the American author Kathryn Stockett. My favorite film is a French one called Rabby Jacob with Louis de Funes. My favorite TV show is Glee and my favorite band is the French band Sexion d'Assaut.
If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
If you could meet one person in the world, who would it be?
MJ: Barack Obama.
If you hadn't been a tennis player, what career path would you have chosen?
MJ: I would really enjoy being a writer but, unfortunately, I'm not actually very good at it! Maybe I could do something else creative, like jewelry design as I really like jewelry.