Aga Radwanska's Home Comforts
Published August 07, 2013 12:00
Given the choice between year-round sunshine and dawn starts in sub-zero temperatures, most people would plump for the former. Agnieszka Radwanska, however, is not most people.
Radwanska has always been open about her fondness for home comforts and despite her status as one of the world's leading tennis players still regularly eschews sunnier climes in favor of her beloved hometown of Krakow
And while Poland's second city may not boast the world's finest weather, or tennis facilities, for Radwanska it has all the right ingredients. "I have a lot of stories about the tough training conditions when I was growing up," Radwanska said from the considerably warmer climes of Stanford last month. "In winter for so many years when I was still in school, every day I was practicing at 7.30am.
"It was -15°C or -20°C outside and we were playing in a bubble - not even proper indoor courts - and at the beginning there was still ice.
"The ice was everywhere so I was playing with my jacket on, hat, jumpers, everything! It was around 4°C at the beginning of the practice and when we were finishing maybe 9°C or 10°C, so we were still wearing the jackets. These are just typical Polish conditions."
While the foundations for Radwanska's career may have been laid in clothes - and temperatures - not often associated with tennis, it did endow her with skills not on offer under the roof of a sunshine-drenched Florida academy.
"It was a very hard way to learn and now we can really appreciate when we get to practice in very good conditions," the World No.4 added. "I think it toughened us up and made us more adaptable because every day we practiced on a different surface.
"Some days it would be indoor, then carpet, then other days synthetic grass, but it helped because now I find it easier to adjust when we change surfaces."
From these relatively humble beginnings, Radwanska has gone on to achieve great things, reaching No.2 in the rankings and last July coming within a set of winning Wimbledon. These successes, alongside those of her sister Urszula and the ATP's Jerzy Janowicz, have propelled tennis' popularity in her homeland to another level and helped inspire the next generation of Radwanskas.
"It was hard work when I was younger, but now tennis is getting bigger and bigger in Poland," she said. "Because of what Urszula and I have done and now also Jerzy, kids from Poland now believe that they can also play good tennis and go on and have success as a professional."