Getting To Know... Sesil Karatantcheva

She was born in Bulgaria, plays for Kazakhstan and loves Australia. But why does Sesil Karatantcheva hate Tolstoy?

Published July 22, 2012 08:22

Getting To Know... Sesil Karatantcheva
Sesil Karatantcheva

With parents who represented their country in rowing and volleyball, Sesil Karatantcheva was always destined for a life in sport.

Born in Bulgaria, but now representing Kazakhstan, Karatantcheva's career, which began in 2003, has been nothing if not eventful. Still just 22, the one-time child prodigy, who was once as high as No.35 in the world before spending a few years in the tennis wilderness, is currently plotting a way back to the top.

And as Karatantcheva embarks on this latest chapter, she sat down with wtatennis.com to give a little insight into her rollercoaster tennis journey.

How did you get into tennis?
I started playing when I was around five and a half. The only reason I started playing was because my dad wanted to be a tennis player when he was younger, but my grandparents basically told him he needed to study. In the beginning, I totally disliked it. I thought it was the most boring sport ever and wanted to just go play with Barbies at home. But my dad was a very smart guy because he started buying me out and giving me presents if I played well! Then when I got to about eight or nine I started winning tournaments and began to enjoy it more.

Can you tell us about your family?
My dad didn't get his dream to become a tennis player, but he ended up in rowing and was actually pretty good - he was national champion and went to the Olympics in 1980. His name is Rado - like the watches. My mom's name is Neli, she was a volleyball player and also on the national team, but now she works in real estate. My uncles were rowers too and a have three younger half sisters, who all play tennis, so sport is pretty big in our family!

How would you describe your game?
I would say I'm a very, very good runner! God definitely gave me legs! My dad likes to call me a Chinese wall from the baseline as I get everything back. So I can run, I have a great backhand, pretty stable forehand. I'm still kind of working on my serve, so at the moment my return games are better. Overall, I'm a bit of everything, but I'm aiming to be much more aggressive as modern tennis is all about aggression and if I want to get to where I want to be I need to concentrate on this.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I would say the best moment was when I first started to realize I was completely independent. There was not one specific tournament because I had so many good memories everywhere; first, in the juniors, then, ITF titles. But it was not just one moment but the feeling of independence and starting to make my own money meant I could get whatever, buy whatever - coming from Eastern Europe it was an amazing feeling.

Who was your tennis hero growing up?
I really liked Gabriela Sabatini; I really liked the way she played, the way she behaved and I also thought she was, like, the prettiest tennis player I had ever seen. So she was the first one, but later on there was Steffi Graf and Martina Hingis. Oh my God, I loved Martina and I cried so much in that final at the French Open in 1999. At first I couldn't separate between the two but then at the end I was a complete Martina Hingis fan. I was devastated when she lost.

What are your short and long-term goals?
In the short term, just to stay healthy because this will mean that I can stay in the sport much, much longer. After this, the big goal is really to crack the Top 100, once I pass this horrible mental block, I'm going to feel so much better!

What is your favorite WTA tournament?
I'm a very, very sunny person. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I need sun to have energy. For me, bad weather is devastation. I really love tournaments where there is good weather, so if I had to choose between the Slams, Paris or Australia would be my favorites.

And surface?
Oh, I'm so confused! If you had asked me five years ago I would probably have said clay for sure. Honestly, I think I'm equally good everywhere. I'm not trying to sound cocky but I think my level is the same on all surfaces. But if I had to choose just one, I would say clay because I can slide well and it's what I grew up on.

How far did you go in your education?
I finished high school and I have just started at university in Sofia doing sports management. It's a complete mess and I have no idea what's going on. I study on my own and then just need to go there for the exam sessions but it's pretty hard because the subjects are really tough and I have to do it all on my own. I feel like I could have a future in sports management after tennis. I had a pretty bad experience with agents and if one of my sisters ever goes pro I would like to help her out and keep it in the family.

How do you relax away from the court?
Everything that you're not supposed to do! Like, I love driving motorcycles and cars. I don't have a bike of my own, because I think if I get one of those my parents are going to bury me in the back yard! But I have a car - a Mercedes ML500 - and I'm saving for an upgrade right now. My dream is an Aston Martin, although I might need to win a few tournaments to get that! Also I like skiing, rollerblading, horseback riding and reading. I spend a lot of money on books, everything from classics to romance and biographies. The last thing was Anna Karenina by Tolstoy but that got me depressed for like two weeks and I said I'm never going to read him again.

If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
Emotional. Although other people like to call me crazy and I don't know whether to take this as a complement or insult! I get fired up pretty quickly and can then calm down pretty quickly.

If you could meet anyone in the world who would you like it to be?
Can I go back in time? I would say Elizabeth I or Cleopatra. I'm a big fan of the Tudors. I think Henry VIII being with Anne Boleyn was the best thing that ever happened to him so I don't understand why he beheaded her.

If you weren't a tennis player what would you be doing now?
You know, I think it would have definitely been in sport because I can't really imagine myself being in school to become a lawyer or doctor. If not that, then perhaps something artistic.

Share this page!

Related news

To The Top