PRAGUE, Czech Republic - French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova received a warm welcome back to her native Czech Republic after her heroics in Paris, as local media convened in Prague for a press event with the rising star and her team.
Although the 19-year-old didn’t come home with the big trophy, she still has plenty to celebrate: she beat four seeded players en route to her first major final, did not lose a set in six matches, and now has broken into the WTA’s Top 20, landing at a career-high World No.16.
For Vondrousova, it’s all just starting to sink in now that the tournament is over.
“I’m happy now, really tired, but happy,” an elated Vondrousova said, speaking at a press conference in Prague. “Everything fell off my shoulders yesterday, all the stress, that the tournament is over. So overall I’m tired, but I’m enjoying this whole experience so much.”
Despite her dominant path to the final, Vondrousova found herself outclassed by Australia’s Ashleigh Barty in the championship match. The Czech youngster never managed to find a foothold, falling 6-1, 6-3.
But Vondrousova was far from disappointed at the result, which has propelled her up the rankings - in a few weeks at Wimbledon, she’ll be seeded at a Grand Slam for the first time.
“My main goal before 2019 was to play a full season without injury, and that is going pretty well so far,” she said. “The main focus is on staying healthy for the remaining part of the year.”
Vondrousova’s team was also on hand at the press event in Prague, including coach Jan Hernych, who accompanied her in Paris, and Jiří Hřebec, who shares coaching duties with Hernych but does not travel often. When she entered the room, Vondrousova was received with a standing ovation and two flower bouquets - including 100 red roses from her team.
“I’ve never received 100 roses in my life,” Vondrousova gushed. “I bought some for my mum on Mother’s Day, but this is the first time for me, and it is beautiful.”
Both of Vondrousova’s coaches are former ATP players, but the experience of reaching the second week of a Grand Slam - let alone the championship match - was a new one for her team.
“I only experienced the second week twice when I was playing, and that was in doubles,” Hernych admitted. “It is big difference and I enjoyed it a lot. Less people, more space and different atmosphere. You are surrounded by all the stars, who are used to battling for the titles. This experience itself is great motivation for Markéta.
“I’m excited for Maky. She managed to keep her concentration and form on a very high level for the full two weeks.”
Hřebec added, “I knew what Markéta is capable of, but I’m not going to lie, I didn’t expect a result like this from her this early in her career.”
After a whirlwind two weeks in Paris and Wimbledon looming over the horizon, Vondrousova and her team are planning to stay away from the tennis courts for a few days - although coach Hřebec has already spotted a few things for the 19-year-old to improve on.
“We need to work on the serve, that is for sure,” he said. “And I know exactly what to work on, but I won’t tell you, because all the girls would be grateful for that information!”
For Vondrousova, the immediate plans are simple: rest up as much as possible before hitting the grass courts.
“I need a few days off now, to rest completely,” she said. “I’ll go home for two or three days to see my family, especially my sister Julia, who I haven’t seen in while. I can’t wait to see her!
“I won’t do any sports, then slowly start with fitness training and start my preparation for the grass part of the season.”