In this Life on Tour series, WTA Insider spoke with a range of players across the rankings spectrum, offering fans a glimpse into the lesser-seen aspects of coping with defeat.

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Losing is a way of life on the Hologic WTA Tour. In a tournament field ranging from 30 to 128 players, only one will finish the week with a victory. When they bow out in the first round or in the final, the losers are left to lick their wounds, pack their bags and head to the next stop. From riding the highest of highs one day to an unceremonious low the next, learning to lose is a fundamental key to a long and healthy WTA career.

"Every week you're going to lose a match," Germany's Tatjana Maria said. "My daughter Charlotte plays tennis and wants to be the next champion. I try to explain to her that if you lose, tomorrow is another day. You try and improve what you didn't do well and then next week you have another chance. 

"This makes the tennis life easier and nicer, because you can enjoy the time. It's not depending on the result."

The 36-year-old mother of two isn't short on wisdom and perspective. She admits that having her two daughters accelerated her pivot to post-loss positivity.

"I don't want to cry in front of my kids," Maria said. "I don't want to destroy Charlotte's dream. I want her to explore it herself. I don't want her to think, 'When my mom lost she didn't talk to anyone for a whole day and she cried.' I don't want this. This helped me because I don't want to show this negative part. So I try to be positive."

Marta Kostyuk is 15 years Maria's junior, but the Ukrainian talent says she's already done beating herself after bad beats. It was a waste of energy.

"There's nothing you can change about the fact that you lost," Kostyuk said. "You have two ways: either positive or negative. Positive is you sit down and you think honestly about yourself and what you need to work on and you work. Or you can sit and destroy yourself and talk about how everything you do is wrong. 

"You cannot build on this. You cannot grow because every time you are going to hold it in. There will come a time when you have a three or four-match losing streak and you will break down. So I think it's about keeping the emotions as low highs and high lows."


Of course, that clear-eyed maturity is easier when you have distance. But when players are fresh off the court and in the heat of the moment, how do their teams tip-toe around the raw emotions?

Put differently: What's the last thing you want to hear after a loss?

Jelena Ostapenko: "Something super negative, because I'm already pissed off. I'm really emotional. I'm already going to be pretty angry at myself that I lost. If someone says something negative I can explode."

Liudmila Samsonova: "It doesn't happen too much to me, but if someone comes to me and says you did not play good today, you cannot work with me. Say something positive."

Yulia Putintseva: "When I lose the match, in my head I'm trying to focus on the things that I didn't do well. When someone tells me I played great, I'm like, 'Screw you.' It's not what I want to hear. Or 'great match.' Get lost. 

"I would prefer to win a match and someone tells me you played so bad. I'm like, 'Thank you very much, I know I can do better.'"


Katie Boulter: "You played well. That's a tough one to take. When someone's trying to be ultra-positive and they're trying to see the best in everything, they're trying to be lovely, but it's hard not to snap. 

"With my team, we've come to learn that when I'm ready to come out of the locker room, I know I'm ready. But there is the odd match that hurts a little bit more than others and it takes some time."

Marta Kostyuk: "You could have done better. I've had coaches that have been pretty pissed after losses, which is ridiculous in the first place because how can you be pissed about your player losing, it's not you going out on court. It's like, what the hell is this? You can support or you can leave. 

"But they were pissed, so they didn't talk and then after one day we would have a conversation about what I'm doing wrong in my life and I'm just sitting there, like, 'Wow. Next.' But as I grow I don't think there are many things you can tell me after my loss that will hurt me. I went out there, I fought, some things didn't work, I go back to work. It's not like the last match of my life."

Anna Blinkova: "I like the support. I don't like the negative, especially that I didn't give my best or I played stupid or I made so many mistakes that I gave the match away. But it's still a tough question."

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Tatjana Maria: "It's tough but everything you do in life is tough. If you have a normal job, it's hard for them too. Having a job is hard. I think the players have to realize this a little more. We are traveling around the world, we are playing a sport, and we are earning a lot of money in our sport. I think we should look at the positive things. 

"Life is hard, it doesn't matter what you do. So at least you can do a sport and earn money, that's the best thing that can happen."