The courts on which Gabriela Dabrowski grew up from a young player to a Grand Slam champion now bear her name.
On Monday, the City of Ottawa officially dedicated the Gabriela Dabrowski Tennis Courts at the Russell Boyd Park, where the Canadian doubles star first honed her craft and still practices today.
The city first arranged for needed repairs on the courts, which included aspects such as technical drawings, the rest came from a multi-year, $1-million “community contribution” by the Tomlinson Family Foundation, as reported by the
"So much blood, sweat and tears have been shed on this court, and it’s pretty remarkable that I’m still here years later," Dabrowski said following a brief ceremony, as reported in the Ottawa Citizen. "I practiced on this court two days ago. It feels the same, just like I’m here, trying to get better.
"I don’t know if I’ll ever be coaching some day, necessarily, but hopefully I’ll be trying to grow tennis in the community as best I can, and around Canada. If I inspire one kid to pick up a racquet, to me that’s awesome."
The current doubles World No.9 and two-time mixed doubles Grand Slam champion also held a hitting session with preteens as a part of the festivities.
In addition to taking questions about forehands and backhands from the next generation of players, the 26-year-old Canadian was also quick to share her experiences and advice with those assembled.
"Billie Jean King said pressure is a privilege, and that means you earned your spot to compete among the best players in the world and you have to treat it like you belong here," Dabrowski told the local juniors.
"I have worked hard to be here and I want to continue to be here, and how do I do that? What are the the things in my game that need to improve? How do I maintain this level? On a bad day, how do I get a little bit better? So, I think if I approach it with that type of mentality, then it’s not also about, ‘I need to keep winning or else.’ That’s too hard on any human in any facet of life."
Dabrowski's father, Jurek, said one of the two courts was due to receive an acrylic covering, to provide a side-by-side comparison to the other court covered by asphalt.
The purpose is to determine the best option for Ottawa’s climate.
“I’m from a Communist country. I left in 1981,” said Jurek Dabrowski, originally from Poland. “I could not achieve what I dreamed of. It was almost impossible.
“She is achieving everything that I dreamed of over there. For me, it’s like a double joy. It’s almost like I’m enjoying what she is enjoying right now.”