Another Milestone for Mauresmo
Published July 10, 2009 12:58
LONDON, England - Although she didn't win Wimbledon for a second time, Amélie Mauresmo had plenty to celebrate over the final weekend of The Championships. On Sunday, July 5 the two-time Grand Slam champion and former world No.1 turned 30 - no doubt marking the occasion with a bottle of wine or two from her prized wine cellar, shared with family and friends.
And, if the spring in her step of late is any guide, Mauresmo shows no sign of hanging up her racquet anytime soon. "To keep playing, for me, is really a matter of enjoying myself on the court," she said recently, and the 2009 season has certainly marked a renaissance for the French icon following a difficult couple of years.
After the heady heights of 2006, when the sublime all-court player captured the Australian Open and Wimbledon - leading to her induction to the French Legion of Honor by then-president Jacques Chirac - Mauresmo was sideswiped by an emergency appendectomy in the spring of 2007, and then a right adductor strain in the summer. In total she was out of action for more than four months and had slipped to No.18 by the end of the season, ending six consecutive years in the Top 10.
As 2008 unfolded it increasingly seemed the magic had evaporated. Her confidence and enthusiasm at a low, Mauresmo slumped to No.37 at one point, before recovering to No.24 by the end of the year.
But things began to look up last January when she beat Ana Ivanovic on her way to the semis at Brisbane, and there was no shame in a third round loss to Victoria Azarenka at the Australian Open. Although France's subsequent 5-0 first round Fed Cup drubbing at the hands of Italy was a blow to Mauresmo and the rest of the French team, she bounced back in the best way imaginable the very next week, capturing her 25th Tour singles title at the Open GDF Suez, the Paris indoors event.
Return to the Winners' Circle
While the trophy was very welcome after two years without any additions to her collection, what mattered to Mauresmo and her fans was the way that she earned it, by beating three Top 10 players - Agnieszka Radwanska, Jelena Jankovic and Elena Dementieva - along the way. The emotional celebrations, on court and in the stands at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin, hinted at the likely scene should Mauresmo ever manage to win at Roland Garros.
"I'm just happy it finally showed after a couple of years of struggling," Mauresmo said at the time. "During the last few months in practice I could see there were some great moments, but it was only showing in matches now and then. I didn't know when my consistency at this level was going to happen again, or if it would."
Back in the Top 20, Mauresmo has enjoyed good results since then, notwithstanding a first round loss to Anna-Lena Groenefeld at the French Open, which remains tricky territory for the Frenchwoman. However, she reached the semis at Madrid and gave Dinara Safina a run for her money in the fourth round at Wimbledon. And at the end of April, she almost single-handedly saved France from Fed Cup relegation against Slovakia, which would have seen the proud tennis nation out of the World Group for the first time in the competition's history.
"I feel I'm 40 right now, not even 30," she smiled after that weekend of heroics, with the final result decided by a three set doubles thriller partnering Nathalie Dechy against Daniela Hantuchova and Dominika Cibulkova.
"To have these kinds of rewards from the work I did over the winter and since the beginning of the season, it's great," Mauresmo added. "I feel proud and happy to still be able to live these kinds of moments on the court because I wasn't sure they would happen again. Hopefully I'll have some more."