Teliana Pereira: We Had To Work For This
Published October 30, 2013 12:05
CURITIBA, Brazil - It has been an absolute breakthrough year for Teliana Pereira, becoming Brazil's first WTA semifinalist since 1990 at Bogotá in February and now, after more strong results on the WTA and ITF Circuit, making her way into the Top 100 and to a career-high ranking of No.88 two weeks ago.
It seems like the sky's the limit for the Brazilian No.1 - but she came from very humble beginnings.
"I was born in a small town where life is very difficult. There's a lot of poverty there and it's hard to get an education," Pereira remembers. "So my father went to Curitiba, a bigger city, to find a good job. He started working at a tennis academy, and my whole family moved there too. I would go to the academy to help my father, and my brothers started to play tennis, so I started trying to play too."
For the better part of a decade Pereira was grinding it out on the ITF Women's Circuit, with a lot of success - she won 16 titles between 2006 and 2012 - but it was this year when she finally hit paydirt, qualifying for her first WTA-level main draw at Bogotá and making the aforementioned semifinal run.
"After the semifinal there I think people in Brazil were noticing women's tennis much more," Pereira said. "Recently only men's tennis has gotten the attention there, but they were putting me more in the media after that, and after I got to the Top 100, because I think it was something like 23 years since there was a Brazilian woman in the Top 100. All of the attention was more pressure on me, but I also enjoy it because I've worked so hard for this, and I made it through two very difficult years with a knee injury and came back. I'm just very happy right now because things are really happening for me."
Now that the 2013 season is winding down, what are Pereira's goals for the 2014 season and beyond?
"In the beginning of the year I said I wanted to finish the year in the Top 100, and we made a good schedule, and I'm feeling very good about where I am now. I'm winning a lot of matches on the road and I feel like I can do more and more. It's also good for Brazil - now the girls see they can play good tennis too, and we're also going to have more tournaments in Brazil now, which is great, we need it!
"I hope next year's going to be even better for me and for women's tennis in Brazil."
But no matter what heights she reaches, the humble Brazilian will never become jaded by the success.
"Sometimes when I'm feeling tired or sad, I just think about what I've already accomplished, and that some people who come from where I did haven't had the chance to even play tennis or have a good life. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity and when I'm on court playing, I really try to enjoy it.
"We really had to work for this."