Barbora Krejcikova will still need some time to let it sink in. The 2021 Roland Garros champion in both singles and doubles had a fortnight to remember in Paris, where she became the first Czech champion since 1981 and the first woman to win both the singles and doubles titles since Mary Pierce in 2000. Her win with longtime partner Katerina Siniakova on Sunday was the team's second French Open title - third, if you count their junior girls' title - and vaulted Krejcikova back to No.1 in doubles.
Krejcikova sat down with WTA Insider from Paris to try and wrap her mind around what she's accomplished and why she thinks her win will resonate in the WTA locker room, where the players have already taken to social media to celebrate with her.
WTA Insider: It's now a day after you won. What are the emotions you're feeling after your unbelievable two weeks in Paris?
Krejcikova: I mean, I'm extremely happy for sure. It's a dream come true. I cannot really believe it yet. It's going to take maybe a little bit longer. It's going to take more time. So far, I'm just really enjoying it. I'm just really enjoying all of this attention. I never experienced anything like that.
Right now, I just try to take it as a new experience. I just try to take it, to see everything positive and everything happy. So far, it's been fun and I really appreciate all the messages that I'm actually getting from my fans. My whole country was supporting me. I actually had the chance to read some articles, and they made everything very nice. I just hope is going to continue like this. I hope there's going to be just nice words.
WTA Insider: What are you proudest of?
Krejcikova: The thing that I'm most proud of is the mental part, I would say, because for me, this was really tough. I always wanted to do this and trust me, you didn't want to see me before the matches. You don't want to see what I was actually doing, how I was panicking before every single match.
But then as soon as I stepped on the court, I was just there and I was ready to fight. I wasn't really thinking that I have a panic or that I'm scared or that I'm stressed or something. That's really special for me. That was something that I felt that I really have to work on because I didn't really have this in myself. I think that's why I actually won the singles, because I just felt that mentally I was able to really handle every situation that I got during these two weeks. That was the biggest key.
There are so many other things happening that I'm proud of. Just making dreams come true for my family, for my mum. She really wanted me to play and she really wanted me to play this high level. On court, after I finished, I'm like, "Mom, we did it. We actually did it." All the work and everything that we did, we actually made it. You wanted me to be a top player and I actually won a Slam in singles. I actually won the biggest thing I can actually win in tennis. I just started to cry. It was really emotional.
I called my mom and she was so happy and she said, "I was crying too. I just really enjoyed it." My dad was crying as well. I'm just telling them, like, "OK, OK," just watch out for your heart and everything. Just keep calm. I want to come back and I want you to be there alive. Don't take everything too seriously. I just won, that's it. Nothing is changing.
WTA Insider: You've been receiving such support from other players, past and present, on social media. What do you think your win means to the locker room?
Krejcikova: I really don't know. Every time I go to the locker room, I always try to have a good connection with all the other players. I always just try to say hello, I always try to smile, I always just try to be really humble and just be nice to everybody because sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down. It shouldn't really change you. You always got to say hello, please, and thank you. That's what I was taught.
My journey, I think it's inspiring because nine months ago I was actually out of Top 100. I had the label that I'm a doubles player. Now, nine months later, I'm actually a singles Grand Slam champion and the world just changed. Everything just changed.
I just feel like there are so many girls actually in the locker room, they have the abilities. If I can actually do it, they have the ability to do it as well. I have some favorite girls that I already texted and they texted me and then go to congratulate me and I just wrote them, I have no doubt that one day you're going to be standing in my place because I believe you have the ability to actually do it.
I just try to be me and I'm not really planning to change. I just want to be me and I still want to be the little girl coming from a small city in Czech Republic where everybody was cheering for me yesterday and during these two weeks. It's very nice to be seen as a champion, but I also want to be seen as a good person, definitely.
WTA Insider: To be clear, you had never broken into the Top 100 nine months ago. What made you believe that something like that is possible?
Krejcikova: You know, I've played a lot of players. I played against Bianca, for example. She won the US Open two years ago. I think last year, when I was back home and we had this pandemic and everything, I was able to actually play the charity matches where I've seen Karolina Pliskova playing, Petra Kvitova, Barbora Strycova, Marketa Vondrousova, Karolina Muchova.
I had chances to play all these girls and some of the matches I won, some of the matches I lost. But most of them, they were just tight. I just felt like, these girls are Top 10, Top 20, Top 30, Top 50. They won some titles in singles as well. I can play to the same level, but I'm No.115 and I'm playing ITFs and I'm not really moving forward. I think this is where it's coming from. I just think that this opportunity just to play with such amazing WTA players, that's something that really helped me.
WTA Insider: When we talk about Czech tennis, it seems so much of the country's success stems from this very fact, that there's so much talent and you're all able to practice or play against each other to get better, or just be around each other and be inspired by each other.
Krejickova: I feel that we are really far away. Even if these girls are practicing next to us, we are really far away. But I think just having the chance to watch them, to see what they are doing, to see how they approach practices to see what they are doing when things are working out and they practice well. Then when they are not practicing well, maybe talking to the coaches, what they are telling them.
Czech is small. Basically all of us are just in one place, we have pretty much the same people around us. There are not many coaches, so the coaches are actually, like, rotating. The history in Czech is huge with tennis. We've been having so many good players. Every generation, they just find somebody who they want to support from the previous generation and they just really look up to them and they just really want to do the same thing. And then sometimes they even hire the same people and they just really want to try to get closer to the person because they really admire the player and they really want to just get to the same level.
It's all about hard work. It's all about dedication and also the patience. If you go and you constantly work hard and you just keep going and just really enjoy and try to not put so much pressure on you, I think anybody can achieve this and anybody can make their dreams come true.
WTA Insider: You said all your dreams came true during these two weeks in Paris. You swept the singles and doubles titles. A week before the tournament you won your first WTA title in Strasbourg. You'll be inside the Top 20 on Monday. How do you see yourself coming out of Paris?
Krejcikova: I think the most important thing is to stay healthy. I think the health is the most important. Mentally healthy, physically healthy, just try to enjoy and not put so much pressure on yourself and just keep working hard.
I just have to take some time off right now because I think it's going to get crazy as soon as I come back home. Already I feel it coming from all the messages and all the news and all the press conferences and everything. Like yesterday I spent like three hours just doing the talking. It was such a nice experience. I really enjoy it, but then at the end, you get really tired because it's something new. If I go and practice three hours, it's actually way easier than just being somewhere and answering questions for three hours. It's only because I'm not used to that because I never really get the chance as a doubles player. It's very sad.
I would be really happy if I can change this, that the doubles is going to be also more visible. I don't know if I have this power, but that would be really nice.
I just feel the next one that I'm going to is going to be a Grand Slam again. I'm going to play Wimbledon I think. And then hopefully if the Olympics is going to happen, then the Olympics and then after that, I think at some moment I also have to just stop and just rest a little bit so I'm still hungry and I can still enjoy tennis. Because sometimes when you go from one tournament to another, it gets really hard, it gets really tiring, and then sometimes you don't have the power. That's something I have to also look at and I have to schedule my tournaments a little bit better from now on, I think. But I love to play matches. For me, it's better than practicing. I'm just always going to go and play maybe more tournaments than actually practicing.
WTA Insider: You said earlier in the week that you were really relishing the media opportunities you were getting because you wanted to be able to tell your story. How do you feel about how the media and fans have reacted to hearing your story so far?
Krejcikova: I think so far I didn't really have a chance to say my whole story. I just say part of it because I also don't remember that much (laughs). I also have to really think hard about this and try to explain everything because in English, it's always tough stuff. I'm not going to say that it's easy because it's not easy. Even if it looks like my English is quite good, I feel my English is very good, but if you're going to talk about a different topic, I'm not going to be that good. It's really everything about tennis, but other than that it's hard.
I really hope I'll be able to tell my story. I really hope that I will be able to add something to it and the people are going to like it. I hope it's going to be interesting for them. And I hope they're just going to see me as a good person also.
Being a Slam champion in singles, doubles, and mixed, that's nice. But at the end, you just really have to be a good person. That's what's the most important. You always have to be nice to everybody. When I meet the stars and I really look up to them and they give me the opportunity to actually go talk to them, ask them things, take a picture, get the signature, it really means a lot to me.
I would like to give them the right experience, something that I got from players like Roger Federer, when I had the chance to talk to him, Maria Sharapova, when I had the chance to take a picture with her when I was a junior.
I really want to help the next generation and I really want to help the Czech players. If somebody else is going to come up to me and just asking questions, I'm just going to try to be helpful and just try to give them the chance because that's something I actually got. That's something I actually got from the best person I was able to meet as a tennis player. I got this opportunity and I really appreciate it and I feel it gave me so much.
So if I have a chance to give this to somebody else, I really want to do that because I really want to help.