SHENZHEN, China - Former WTA Finals champion Agnieszka Radwanska is pleased to see the amount of variety and touch present in the women’s game, and declared a successor to her ‘hot shots’ throne at the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen.
In town as the youngest WTA Legend Ambassador in the history of WTA Finals, Radwanska chatted with journalists to reflect on her retirement, thoughts on the styles of play in women’s tennis, and what she misses the most from life on the tour.
“Sometimes I can just feel like I can jump on the court and play myself,” Radwanska joked in her press conference. “It feels good to be back.”
“[Retiring] was the toughest decisions in my life,” she added. “But I'm feeling very good. I've been busy, as well, with other things. I think that gives me not thinking about professional tennis life that I just quit.
“Time flies. It's actually a year now!”
The WTA’s perennial fan favorite, Radwanska announced her retirement in November of 2018 after a struggle with injuries. She had amassed an impressive haul of 20 WTA titles - including her biggest one at the WTA Finals - during her 13-year career, and became the first Polish player in the Open Era to reach a Grand Slam final at Wimbledon 2012.
She also built up a reputation for striking incredible, highlight-reel worthy shots at will - a result of her delicate hands and cerebral brand of tennis. In fact, Radwanska took home the WTA Shot of the Year crown five years in a row.
“I think you cannot really practice these kind of shots,” Radwanska explained. “I couldn't really play powerful tennis like the others. I always had to find the other way to win matches. I think the touch was my escape from those players who killing the balls.
“Yeah, you can never practice. You just have it or you don't have it.”
One player who “has it,'' according to Radwanska, is World No.1 Ashleigh Barty, whose variety and net game had the Polish player anointing as her successor to the hot shot throne.
“Ash Barty is one of the best hands on the tour, nice volley as well,” she said. “It's nice to see not only the powerful shots but also the really good touch. I think it's a good combination right now in women's tennis.”
Radwanska also hailed the rise of 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu, another player who burst into the scene this year and employs a mix of power and variety in her world beating game.
“I think now in the women's tennis, we can see a lot of styles, a lot of players with different ages,” Radwanska said. “Even here we can see some young ones, also some older ones, as well.
“Of course, Bianca can play really powerful tennis. Also when she has to play some tricky shots, she can do it as well. A nice combination of tennis, for sure.”
Radwanska was particularly impressed by the Canadian teen’s fearless performance in the US Open final, where Andreescu defeated Serena Williams in straight sets to claim her maiden Grand Slam title.
“You can see she's playing the tennis that seems like she's on tour for so many years, and she just actually started,” Radwanska praised. “That is very impressive from her.
“How she started the final against Serena, that was impressive. She wasn't scared. You could see she was without any pressure. She played 100%. That's not easy. She played great tennis.
“I think at this age, on this stage, she's doing really good job.”
Fully settled into life after tennis, Radwanska admitted that she definitely doesn’t miss the daily grind and travel of the professional tour - but the thrill of anticipation before taking the court is a feeling she hasn’t gotten anywhere else.
“This is the atmosphere at the tournaments that you cannot swap with anything else, right?” Radwanska mused. “I think the adrenaline that you have waiting for your match, seeing your opponent for the next match, that's something I had all my life, even during tournaments. I think that's atmosphere that it's not there any more.”
“I'm still big fan of tennis,” she added. “I always love to watch tennis, that's why I'm still watching.... You can expect everything. You never know what's going to happen.”