In Part II of WTA Insider's interview with newly-retired Julia Goerges, the German looks ahead to her life after tennis and reflects on her locker room legacy, which saw her befriend and mentor some of the game's brightest young stars.
Read Part I of that interview here.
The 31-year-old announced her retirement from the sport last week, closing the book on at 15-year-career that saw her reach the WTA Top 10, make the 2018 Wimbledon semifinal, and represent German tennis proudly with her memorable performances on home soil.
Listen to the full interview with Goerges on the WTA Insider Podcast below:
WTA Insider: Reflecting on the last four years of your career, it's easy to overlook how successful you were. Over the 2017 and 2018 seasons, you were the third-winningest player on tour. Since the WTA started keeping official match stats in 2008, only Serena Williams and Karolina Pliskova have hit more aces than you. What is the most important thing you took out of your "second career", as you call it.
Goerges: Well, I think to see where I came from, but I was always happy to change, to also take risks in my career with changing teams. I've always stuck for a long time to my team, because I was always like, OK, this is a process, it's a journey, it doesn't come within two months. So I didn't like to really change things up all the time because I really trusted the process. I think that also made me into the player I was at the end of my career, that I also valued every single one in my team, which was always important to me to give them a good value and good feeling and being respectful with each other.
So when I look back, I think every single year of those four years, I've developed something in my game, which was important and which brought me on a different level in terms of winning tournaments again, getting far at a Grand Slam, which was a dream, breaking into the Top 10. There were always things coming with every single year.
So I think I wouldn't specify any special moment that I'm the most proud of. But I think the development was important for me to see that I've always gone the right direction. Even though sometimes I had some setbacks, it never really distracted me from moving forward and trying to develop.
That's something also which I tried to do in my private life because I want to get better at things. This tennis life, in those terms of developments, helped me a lot for my private life and being the person I am now.
WTA Insider: You famously said that if you weren't a tennis player you would be an accountant. You love your numbers. What are your intermediate plans for your post-tennis career?
Goerges: Well, I think always with every door which closes, another one opens, so we'll see where it brings me at the end. But I do like a lot the fitness aspects and yoga stuff.
And also, of course, still numbers. I mean, if I do my own taxes now, it's not that busy anymore because I'm not traveling anymore. I don't have as many things. It's just plain (laughs). It's not really busy anymore or I have to spend some hours when I come back from an event.
So I think it will be something in terms of fitness, yoga and other projects. I'm not out of the tennis world. I think there will be some stuff to come up or exhibitions or whatever it will be at the end of the day.
But I do enjoy the fitness aspect a lot. I just worked on the Recast app to really provide good fitness programs where people really get something from it and a good benefit, where you know that you have people watching you not doing the wrong exercises, being prepared and taking care of your body. I think this body thing where you really feel your body and do something for your well-being also by getting better and improving, if some people want to improve on their tennis side or just for the fitness aspect. I think that's something great and I think we should do that more in the world as well, to really give it to people who maybe are not that comfortable yet in sports or yoga or their well-being. I think it's a good opportunity to start and just really getting into that groove and starting to see, OK, I have a better feeling for my body. I start the day better by just having a sweat in the morning or just a light session and starting to become more professional in this aspect.
So there are a lot of opportunities. I mean, it's just not even a week ago since I announced and this year has been pretty crazy, as we all know. So let's see where the New Year will bring us, but I think in those kind of directions, it will go.
WTA Insider: Two moments later in your career stand out to me, which I remember as pictures at the net. One was the lovely moment between you and Ashleigh Barty last year at the Birmingham final, when Ash won and became World No.1. The other came at Wimbledon in 2018, when you played your good friend Kiki Bertens for a spot in the semifinals. You were both so gracious afterwards.
Goerges: Those two pictures that you've just mentioned, I think in those matches, I think everyone was just feeling for the other one who lost because the other one was happy that it happened against the person on the other side.
So it was always a fine line because all the time when one won against the other, it was like, OK, I'm sorry that I beat you. Oh, no, that's fine. I wish you good luck. Best of luck in everything. So it was always back and forth because we understood at the end of the day, it's just a game and one has to win, one has to lose. There will be not even one-all or something. So it was something where we always found a way to really appreciate being able to compete against each other with the respect we have for each other.
And there was also a nice moment with Dasha Kasatkina in Moscow. It was also like something where we've just come a long way together, even though she's still so young. But I think it was always great, first of all, playing against her, but also spending time with her and her brother and also their mother. There were a lot of great moments. When you play so long there are always things coming where you are probably the most thankful for and which is off-court most of the time.
WTA Insider: A few players have mentioned that you were one of the first players who reached out and treated them well early in their careers. Maria Sakkari, Daria Kasastkina, and Ashleigh Barty all mentioned it.
Goerges: I'm pretty straight up (laughs). If I like someone, I like that person. And if I don't like someone, then it might happen that I don't talk to that person because I'm not wasting my time around.
You cannot like everyone and you cannot love everyone. So if I like someone, I really like them from my heart. And if I don't I say, OK, then I don't need to smile at someone or talk for 20 minutes because that would be fake for me.
So I just stand for it and say, OK, this is me, this is how it is. Either you like me or you don't like me.
WTA Insider: There are two themes that come across when other players talk about you. One is that any player would love to have the career you have, this sense of locker room respect that other players value what you did in your career. Second is there was sense of professionalism and fairness about you, in how you treated your career and your competitors. How important was it for you to have this kind of locker room respect?
Goerges: It was very important, I think. Well, first of all, I was really touched and overwhelmed by all the messages I got. And also when I saw what people really think of me and also what kind of feeling I gave them, because I'm always standing for respect. I think it is very important because I try to treat everyone with respect, because I would love to get treated with respect as well. And I think that's, first of all, the thing. If you expect something from people, you should be able to do the same thing the other way around.
I know this job is really tough. There are a lot of emotions in it. Sometimes you can't control it. I think it's in everyone's nature somehow if the emotions are cooking up and there is a lot of trouble going on, I understand. But at the end of the day, it was always important for me when I go to the net and I see my opponent, either I congratulate her or I also expected her to say at least well done to me, because I think that's something that is in your control and that's something that I can take care of. The rest sometimes you cannot take care of and it's out of your control, but the things which you are in control of, I think they always need to be with respect.
It was nice to see for me that this actually made it to the locker room and also to my opponents and all the other players, friends around the tour, because that's what I'm standing for and always tried to have, even though sometimes emotions overcooked in any matches. But at the end of the day, it comes down to this. So that was very important for me and I'm glad that I have made it. That's something that I was probably the happiest about it.