WARSAW, Poland - As former Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska took her final lap of honor last week at the All-England Club, younger sister Urszula followed the retirement celebrations from back home in Poland, where she was in bed recovering from acute bronchitis.
In an interview with wtatennis.com, a recovering Urszula opened up about the emotional ‘shock’ she felt after the news of her older sister’s retirement broke late last season.
“We were talking about it before, so I knew that she was going to do it, but still. After she went public with it, it was a shock for me,” Urszula revealed. “Last year I was really sad, you know?
“I saw her all the time on TV for years, supporting her and all those emotions. And of course, we were travelling together and practicing together, and suddenly she’s not there anymore.”
The biggest plus side? According to Urszula, she and Agnieszka can now have more ‘sister time’ back home in Poland - when their schedules align.
“She’s almost all the time at home in Warsaw,” Urszula joked. “Whenever I’m back here in Warsaw we get to hang out and see each other, we go out for lunch or a coffee, maybe some shopping. I see her more now for sure.”
According to Urszula, who at 28 is two years younger than Agnieszka, her sister’s success was a source of inspiration - especially during her own time away from the tennis courts.
“She had an amazing career, and well, I got my motivation from her,” she said. “Seeing that she’s winning tournaments and that she’s a Top 10 player, I wanted to be there too. She was a great motivation for me.
“But right now, she’s still my sister. We’re still hanging out, we’re still talking every day. But it’s nice to see that people are recognizing her amazing career and talking about her.”
Much like the Williams sisters and the Pliskova twins, the Radwanskas were an inseparable sister act for most of their careers - until their trajectories diverged, and Agnieszka soared to WTA World No.2 and reached the 2012 Wimbledon final, while snake-bitten Urszula was waylaid by illness an injury.
For 28-year-old Urszula, each of her career’s biggest moments has been swiftly followed by a disappointing injury break: after achieving her highest ranking of World No.29, she had to take a break for shoulder surgery in 2014. She came back and fought her way into the WTA’s Top 100, but needed another break in 2016 for ankle surgery. Two months after coming back, she contracted mononucleosis, missing the Rio Olympics and eventually falling out of the Top 500 in 2017.
“The last year, last three years actually, were very tough for me. But from this year, I’m healthy and happy to be back on the court again,” Urszula said. “Thankfully, I have a very nice team, and parents and of course, my sister and my boyfriend. They’re all very supportive.”
“For an athlete to get an injury, it’s a very tough time. So having someone very close to me like my parents, my sister and my boyfriend, that was so important for me at the time to stay motivated.”
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Finally healthy and fit again - save for the acute bronchitis, of course - Urszula is eager to get back to the top of the sport, slamming the door on any thoughts of a retirement of her own.
She's spent the majority of her year playing ITF events - reaching two 25K finals and lifting the trophy at Guadalupe 25K - and WTA qualifying as she continues to chip away at her ranking. In her spare time, she designs and sells her own line of luxury handbags - named UR after her own initials.
“I think [Aga] was playing, like, almost 12 years in a row, all the time,” she explained. “She never had any injury. I think she didn’t even miss a Grand Slam in those 12 years - two years ago it was the first time. So she never had a break, she was just playing all the time. I think she was just already very tired.
“But me, I had actually three breaks, pretty long ones because of the surgeries. So I feel like I’m still fighting, still on the court and trying to be better.
“I’m not thinking right now at all about finishing the career - I had my breaks, which gave me time to rest and think about what I want to do. I’m still motivated to play tennis, get back to the Top 100.
“I have unfinished business on the tennis court: I still didn’t say the last word. I still want to play, want to win matches.”