TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – A pre-tournament interview with Marion Bartoli
Q. Do you feel slightly nostalgic coming back and not being able to go out there on court and play?
MARION BARTOLI: No. Actually it feels different, of course, but it feels great actually coming back still as the defending champion. I really enjoy those two weeks.
I knew when I announced my retirement last year I would not be able to defend my title this year.
Just an amazing moment to kind of coming back and see all those flashback from last year, all those pictures around, and having my name engraved on this champion’s board, it’s just absolutely amazing.
I feel extremely honored and quite proud, to be honest. It is very emotional, for sure.
Q. Any regrets now that you’re back here?
MARION BARTOLI: Look at my shoulder. Literally I can’t even lift my arm every morning. It was the same last year, and didn’t improve from a year after, even without playing much tennis.
So definitely no regrets at all. I totally moved on into something different. I just launched my shoe line three weeks ago during the French Open. Designing jewelry, too.
So many things going on in my life right now, but just extremely honored to be still the 2013 Wimbledon champion and reigning champion just for the last two weeks.
Q. What do you miss the most about being away from the tour that you spent a lot of your life to this point on, and what do you miss the least or happiest about having left behind?
MARION BARTOLI: What I miss the most is probably the last five seconds of my final, which is when I’m about to serve and I serve and I ace. Kind of showing it’s an ace and knowing it’s an ace and knowing I won Wimbledon, that’s probably what I’m missing.
Other than this, I don’t miss every morning having to wake up and not being able to lift my arm; having my whole body terribly sore; having to travel; pack and unpack; all the practice time you have to book; make sure you’re just having your schedule ready. Everything has to be ready every single day.
I really enjoy every single second of my tennis career. It was not heavy for me. I was so driven. I was ready to do everything I need to do in order to fulfill my dream. I was extremely fortunate to do so last year, especially in this magical place as it is in Wimbledon.
So, you know, I knew when I finished, I was kind of escaping or putting on the side. I didn’t know what was in front of me. Now I know what is in front of me, which is great.
But it’s just an absolute privilege to be a Wimbledon champion, and I am actually like it’s almost better than me. You know, sometimes people ask me, Who are you? I just say, I’m the Wimbledon champion. It just speak by itself. I don’t even need to mention my name (smiling).
Q. If you could give yourself, when you first started going into tennis, advice now in light of what you said about what you don’t miss, what would you tell yourself?
MARION BARTOLI: I would not change anything to what I did before. I mean, yes, it was difficult. Yes, I found I could of quitted a million time.
But at the end of the day, that was my path. That was my destiny, to kind of win it when expecting the less.
Honestly, I felt like in 2011 when I enter Wimbledon, coming out from the French Open semifinal, winning in Eastbourne, and arriving here, I felt that was my best chance to actually win the title.
Then I arrive in 2013. When I expected totally the less, that’s when actually that I won without dropping a set.
So I would probably just tell myself, Well, just dive in and just see how it goes. And here went beautifully. I mean, it was a fairytale that actually happened to my life last year. I finally got my title. I finish without dropping a set on an ace.
That’s the last memory that stays forever inside my heart and my mind. I wish I could have won ten. I just won once. But it’s just the best one actually I won.
Q. What particularly did Amélie bring to your team last year? What thing did she do that made a difference last year?
MARION BARTOLI: Well, reflecting back, I think she — I worked with my dad for 22 years. We probably did 90% of the work all together.
But then you have this 10% are missing. Everyone brings a little 1% or 2% extra on the table. My fitness coach bring probably 2%. My physio bring a lot to the table, helping me to be ready every single day.
Amélie gave me this really extra confidence boost that I really needed in term of knowing that when I’m on the court I could win the match.
Sometimes that’s what I was lacking. I was kind of doubting myself in terms of whether I’m good enough to actually beat my opponent, whether I’m good enough to deal with the situation.
She really give me this confidence that, yes, I’m good enough; yes, it’s going to be okay; yes, I work hard enough to actually be a Grand Slam winner.
I never felt during the whole course of last year’s Championships, I never felt uncomfortable. I always felt very comfortable in every situation, even when it gets extremely tight. When I was about to serve at 5-4 and I was leading 6-1, 5-1, and here I am 20 minutes later and it’s 5-4 and the match is about to turn.
That’s when you actually really need someone is giving you this confident look that’s saying, Well, everything’s just going to be all right.
I just won my game to love and I just won Wimbledon. She really gave me this confidence boost.
Q. Even though you haven’t been playing, you’ve been at a lot of tournaments this year in different capacities. What have you seen about the world of tennis from this different perspective that you didn’t know about it before?
MARION BARTOLI: Nothing is quite different. Just the thing is I’m not taking my racquet and going on court.
It was very funny, because this year in Paris, before the French Open, a lot of people were saying, Good luck for the French Open this year. I was like, Actually, I wasn’t going to play.
People actually still in France kind of, I don’t know, don’t know that I retired. They are like, Good luck for the French. I’m like, I don’t think I’m going to play this year.
It’s the same here at Wimbledon. I was in the Village this morning. So how do you feel? Do you feel it’s going to be hard to defend your title?
Uhm, not really, because I’m not going to defend it (laughter).
You know, just everything the same. You see your kind of opponent as friends, but it was the same when I was playing. I always saw them as friends and opponent occasionally, but not on a daily, daily basis.
Just everything is the same except I don’t have to ask for the schedule the next day.
Q. With John Inverdale, you seem to be very forgiving of the much publicized comment.
MARION BARTOLI: I have a very short-term memory. This is my problem (laughter).
We actually have a very good friendship. We just talked briefly about ‘the situation’ before, saying he actually made a comment that he was not supposed to do, that he didn’t meant it, whatever, whatever.
You know what? Last year for me it was all about winning Wimbledon and making my dream a reality. That was all I was caring about. Just me having this pure joy inside me.
I didn’t really reflect at all into his comments. It didn’t affect me at all. I was just happy to have this trophy inside my hand. It was just purely and simply like this.
You could have tell me David Beckham is waiting for you outside the room. I would say, I don’t care because I just have the trophy.
Q. Is it what Amélie says to you that’s the key? Not so much the work she does with you on the court but the psychological aspect she’s good at?
MARION BARTOLI: Yeah, she’s very good in this. You know, she was my captain during the Fed Cup. The Fed Cup tie I play for France in Besançon. I didn’t play in singles for a long, long time before. We had to play against Kazakhstan in order to not go into Group 2.
It was a lot of pressure on every player. She makes you feel very comfortable in a very difficult situation. That’s probably because she went through all of them as a player. She’s able to really give you the great advices and the great boost and the great mental spirit.
That’s really what I felt as a player. She was not spending a lot of time with me on the court, but more outside getting me ready for the match, and then of course in the stands during the match.
Q. It was an emotional time obviously for you last year. Emotional as well for the person you beat. Have you spoken to Sabine since? Do you want her to go one step further this year? Who do you think your favorite is?
MARION BARTOLI: Gosh, that’s a lot of questions at once (laughter). So let me come back.
Yes, I saw Sabine many times after Wimbledon, different tournaments where I went. We didn’t speak at all about Wimbledon. We just spoke about my new life, her still being on the circuit, the tournament she was about to play, how she was feeling, et cetera, et cetera. Some girl stuff.
And then do I think she’s going to go a step further this year? Well, you know, Sabine really loves Wimbledon. Obviously she did so well not only last year but the years before. She is kind of able to really come in here and being a total different player from what she is during the whole year.
I think it’s going to depend on how she feels in the first two or three rounds and moving on into the second week.
I’m sure if it’s not this year, at least she will have another shot in being into the Wimbledon final. Whether she can win it or not, that’s another story. But I think she will be there one more time.
Q. Tennis is full of colorful characters. Out of the new generation of players who did well in Paris, Eastbourne last week, is there one that you have an eye on to become a big star?
MARION BARTOLI: Well, I think there is many. Obviously Eugenie Bouchard from Canada; Madison Keys; Garbine Muguruza. There are different players that can achieve great results on different surfaces.
I think the new trends is these youngsters are coming out and are not afraid to beat the big players and the established players. When you see Serena going out 6-2, 6-2 to Muguruza in a Grand Slam, that’s really not something we’re used to seeing maybe five or ten years ago.
A top player might go out in tough matches, very tough matches. Not 6-2, 6-2 like that.
I think they’re really coming out fearless and they just play and believe every time they’re on the court they’re going to beat whoever is on the other side of the net. I think that’s something that’s definitely coming from the new generation.
They’re just kind of coming out and say, Well, we’re good enough and we’re going to show the world.
Q. How often do you look at the trophy? The tradition is the women’s defending champion plays the first match on Tuesday. Where will you watch that match from?
MARION BARTOLI: Well, I think I’m invited into the Royal Box. If I don’t do anything stupid by Tuesday, I think I will be there.
Then how often do I look at my trophy? Well, my trophy is actually at home. I’m not really often at home due to my new life and my shoe collection and all the work I’m doing.
So I actually have the picture inside my phone. I look very oftenly, I have to admit.
But my dad or my mom are the ones who are keeping the trophy. So they have the chance to see it every day and I don’t. I’m missing it.
But I probably YouTube my final point, my ace, once every two days (laughter).
‘We Try To Fix Each Other’ – Aryna Sabalenka On Turbulent Relationship With Coach
The world No.11 speaks to Ubitennis about the reason why she departed and then reunited with her mentor.
2019 has been a roller coaster season for Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka both on and off the court.
The 21-year-old has claimed a trio of titles on the WTA Tour with all of those occurring in China. Overall, she has won 39 out of 61 matches played, as well as winning the doubles title at the US Open with Elise Mertens. On the other hand, she has also lost her opening match at seven tournaments this year and failed get back-to-back wins in three out of the four grand slams she played in.
Sabalenka is currently guided on the tour by Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov. A former top 20 player on the ATP Tour who retired from the sport in 2017. They have been working together for more than a year. It looked as if the partnership had come to an end back in August when both announced on social media that they are ending their collaboration. Sabalenka wrote ‘Thank you for everything and all the best in your future.’ However, the two soon changed their minds after.
“After the US Open, I realized that there was a problem, too many things off the court was diverting my attention from the game and this helped me to win something and find certain sensations.” Sabalenka told Ubitennis.com earlier this month in China.
“I realized how stupid it was to give Dmitry the blame for my failures, so I found a way to recover my relationship with him .”
The mixed season experienced by Sabalenka is one she hopes will help her in the long term. She ends 2019 inside the world’s top 20 for the second year in a row. Becoming one of only four players under the age of 21 to do so on the women’s tour.
“I hope that all this can help me start the next season in a more… intelligent, more experienced way.” She explains. “There is a bit of disappointment with what happened in these months, but at the same time I said to myself, ‘ok, you finally understood’. This means you can work on it and move on. Every player spends moments like that and usually always learns something, I hope it can happen to me too.”
Despite still being a relatively newcomer in the world of coaching, Sabalenka isn’t the first player Tursunov has coached. He had previously worked with compatriot Elena Vesnina and guided her to the 2018 Australian Open doubles finals. During that same year, Vesnina also reached the finals of tournaments in Indian Wells and Madrid under his guidance.
There remains a question as to what the future has in store for Tursunov’s latest partnership. Was their brief break a blessing in disguise or is there more trouble ahead for their working relationship?
“I hope to continue working with Dmitry.” Sabalenka stated.
“We tried to ‘fix’ each other a few things and this helped me stay positive. The intention is simply to move forward because our collaboration is very good and working great, I don’t want to lose him as a coach. If things are going so well, why should I look for someone else?’
“We tried to solve all the problems we had and I think we did it quite well.”
Sabalenka closes out her season with three wins over top 10 players. Defeating Kiki Bertens twice and Ash Barty once.
From Serena Williams’ Return To Strycova’s Rise: Coaches Shed Light on Their players At Wimbledon
On the eve of women’s semi-finals day at Wimbledon, the coaches working behind the scenes share their thoughts.
WIMBLEDON: On Thursday the four women taking to Center Court to play their semi-final matches will not be the only nervous people in the stadium. Watching from the sidelines will be their coaches. Who are tasked with the responsibility of trying to guide their players to grand slam glory.
24 hours before the matches took place, the mentors of Elina Svitolina, Serena Williams and Barbora Strycova spoke with the media. The latest initiative by the WTA, who has increasingly conducted more media sessions with coaches. Something the ATP Tour is yet to do. The only person missing from the session was Daniel Dobre. Dobre, who is the coach of Simona Halep, declined the invitation. Worried that he may jinx the former world No.1 if he spoke. Shortly after Dobre spoke in public at the French Open, Halep lost.
Svitolina’s British asset
Being British Andrew Bettles knows Wimbledon very well. He is a former junior player who once featured in the boy’s draw. Unfortunately for Somerset-born Bettles, he admits that he was ‘not good enough’ to embark upon professional tennis. However, he has always made an impact on the WTA Tour at the age of 26.
“It’s amazing. Growing up Wimbledon has always been so special. To be around it is amazing for me personally.” Said Bettles.
“I wasn’t a good enough player, but the coaching side always fascinated me. I’ve been lucky to work with some amazing coaches, and I’ve been lucky that Elina has given me this opportunity to be her coach.”
A former hitting partner to Ana Ivanovic, he was eventually promoted to the coach of Svitolina, who has become the first woman from her country to reach the last four of a grand slam. Svitolina will play Halep in her semi-final match and leads their head-to-head 4-3.
“It’s always been a good match-up.” Bettles previewed. “I think the key is to be aggressive and kind of maybe take a bit of control from the baseline. Then see if she can dictate the point.”
“The grass is playing pretty slow so it is about being more aggressive. The Grass is a leveler, but you can use it to your advantage as well. “ He added.
Whilst he may still be considered a newcomer to the world of coaching, Bettles has already proven that he knows what he is doing. Guiding his player to the WTA Finals title last year.
“I think because we are similar ages we get on very well. I can understand what she is going through and we are good friends. It’s not like I’m the boss. We talk things through and work things out together.” The Brit commented about their partnership.
Five facts about Bettles
-Graduated from Boise State University in 2014 with a degree in English Lit
-He was Boise State University’s No.1 singles player
-A former national champion in juniors
-Worked with Ivanovic between 2015-2016, before joining Svitolina’s team in 2017.
-During a very brief time on the Futures tour, he peaked at a high of 917th and won $5,968 in prize money.
Patrick Mouratoglou is undoubtedly one of the most well-known coaches in the world of women’s tennis. He has been guiding Serena Williams on the tour after working with a wealth of players on both the men’s and women’s tour.
It has been a turbulent season for the Mouratoglou-Williams team. Injury issues with Williams’ ankle and knee has hampered her training sessions and tournament schedule. Wimbledon is only the sixth WTA tournament of 2019 for the 37-year-old.
“I think she is in a good place at the moment. I think she is happy.” The Frenchman said ahead of Williams’ match against Strycova.
“She has been pain-free for three weeks and feels so much lighter.’
“When you focus on your pain so much because you’re in pain, it is difficult to prepare well for tournaments. You have to adapt to that pain to play tournaments.”
Williams has undoubtedly been gathering in momentum as the Wimbledon tournament has progressed. She has dropped two sets in five matches played. Scoring wins over seeded players Juia Georges in the third round and Carla Saurez Navarro in the fourth. In the quarter-finals, she edged her way past Alison Riske. One of the most in-form players on grass this season.
“In the last match (against Riske) you could see that she was able to raise her game when necessary, which was one of her trademarks. Everything is positive.” Said Mouratoglou.
“She started really slow in the tournament in terms of the level of play. I think the second round match was a key moment. I said afterward (to Serena) that it was the first time she was really struggling with her game and she dug deep and the next two sets were so much better. She felt her game better.”
Quietly confident of more success on Thursday at The All England Club, Williams’ mentor says her game is suited for the grass.
“Serve and return are two of her biggest assets. On the grass when you have those two things you have a big advantage and that is probably why she has had so much success on that surface.”
The American has won more matches (106) and more titles (8) than any other active player on the surface. This year is her 16th main draw appearance at Wimbledon.
Five facts about Mouratoglou
-Started coaching at the age of 26
-Previously coached Marcos Baghdatis (2005-06), Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (2006-08), Yanina Wickmayer (2010), Aravane Rezai (2009-2010), Laura Robson (2010-11), Jeremy Chardy (2011) and Grigor Dimitrov (2011-12)
– 84% of Williams’ time as world No.1 has been under his guidance
-Founder of the prestigious Mouratoglou Tennis Academy
-Also works as a TV commentator
The late bloomer
At the age of 33 Strycova is relishing in her best ever run at a grand slam tournament. Whilst not being the most powerful player on the tour, she counteracts speed with the use of slice, as well as the serve and volley. Reminiscent of how the game used to be played in the past. Strycova’s play proved too much for her opponent in the previous round.
“When you are playing against a player like (Johanna) Konta, who is more powerful than you, you have to find a way to eliminate that and play something different.” Explained coach Lukas Dlouhy.
“Hopefully we can find some tactic for Serena as well.”
Dlouhy is one of two coaches working with the Czech. The other is David Kotyza, who used to collaborate with Petra Kvitova. Strycova is also an accomplished doubles player and is currently ranked third in the world.
“We started 18 months ago together with Barbora. Some tournaments David goes to and some tournament I am going to.” Dlouhy commented about the setup.
“We just have to make a right schedule and that’s it.’
“We are working together so there are no disagreements.”
Refusing to give any details about the game plan for the upcoming match, which is likely to be similar to the one she used against Konta, Strycova’s mentor believes Williams can be beaten. Even though she hasn’t won a set in their three previous meetings on the tour.
“When you have a 0-3 record against Serena it’s tough. But she’s trying and she wants to win. She isn’t just going there to participate.” He said.
“It different because she was younger and had a different type of game. Now she is at the top of her game.’
“Serena has won everything, but she has days when you can beat her. So hopefully we can find out a way about how to do it.”
Known for her sometimes fiery attitude on the court, Dlouhy admits that it isn’t always easy to work with the former top 20 player. However, the positives outweigh the negatives.
“She has a lot of emotions. So some days it is tough to be in her box. Otherwise, she’s a good girl. She’s working and doing everything right. It’s enjoyable to be with her.” He concluded.
Five facts about Dlouhy
-A former world No.5 in doubles
-Played hockey as a teenager, but chose to focus fully on tennis at the age of 15
-Won 10 ATP doubles titles, including the French Open and the US Open in 2009.
-Growing up his tennis idol was Yevgeny Kafelnikov
-Earned more than $3 million in prize money during his professional career.
The women’s semi-finals will get underway at 13:00 on Thursday. The first match will be Svitolina against Halep followed by Williams’ clash with Strycova.
EXCLUSIVE: ITF Presidential Candidate Dave Miley Talks Olympics, Money And Trust Issues
Ubitennis speaks to the man bidding to become one of the most powerful people in the world of tennis.
WIMBLEDON: A mile away from the venue of the Wimbledon Champions is an elegant cafe. Spotless inside, plenty of waiters and a hint of traditional decoration. A suitable venue for the launch of the latest political campaign in the world of Tennis.
David Miley addressed a room full of media to officially kick-off his candidacy to become the President of the International Tennis Federation. Backed by Tennis Ireland, the former ITF administrator has vowed to revamp the organization, marred in recent months by Davis Cup changes and the controversial transition Tour. His pledges include implementing a chairman to ensure greater accountability within the organization, introduce a brand new ITF world Championships and holding a summit of world tennis in 2020.
“I believe tennis is very fragmented at the moment and is not very healthy. The ITF has a perception that it is quite weak and I want to change that.” Miley said during his presentation.
“My manifesto is underpinned by two things. What’s good for tennis and what is good for the nations of the ITF.”
Speaking with confidence, Miley wasn’t phased by any question asked by those watching him. Ranging from the controversies surrounding the fairness of the ITF Presidential process to managing the billion-pound tennis market. After his question and answer session, Ubitennis spoke directly with the man aiming to dethrone David Haggerty later this year.
It is the future of tennis’ involvement in the Olympic Games that is raising concerns. At present, there are strict guidelines for players wanting to play in the event. In order to be eligible, they must participate in three ties during an Olympic cycle. This is reduced to two ties depending on the length of service or the zone group round-robin criteria as specified in the eligibility rule. Although there are exceptions. As a consequence, some of the world’s top names will not be able to feature unless they submit an appeal.
“I think the ITF is the governing body of tennis and it is very important that they encourage people to play the Davis Cup and Fed Cup,” Miley told Ubitennis.
“I don’t think it is unfair for the ITF to say you have to play a certain amount of Davis or Fed Cup ties to qualify.’
“The ATP can say these are mandatory events you have to play. So why can’t the ITF say in order to play the Olympics you have to meet certain requirements?
“Asking players to play in the Davis or Fed Cup a couple of times within four years isn’t too much.”
Critics could argue that if this policy was removed, more big names would be attracted to play in the Olympics. However, Miley points out that this isn’t the issue with the four-year extravaganza. It is with those less developed tennis nations.
“I believe the problem with the Olympic Games right now is that many nations currently don’t feel that they have a chance of qualifying and as a result, they don’t get any assistance from their Olympic committee.”
To combat this issue Miley, who is a former player himself, wants to resurrect the qualifying tournaments. Something that was used for both the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Tennis competitions.
“If there was a qualifying tournament taking place with 64 men and women a couple of months before for maybe six places. This would be a way of involving more nations into the Olympic movement.” He explained.
“Of course you need to work with the IOC, ATP, and WTA. We need to find a way for more players to feel like they have a chance.”
Big money, tough control
A key figure within the ITF for 25 years, the Irish-born candidate has big ambitions. His aim as president is to double the value of The Global Tennis Market within a decade. Its current worth is in the range of $22.5 billion, according to Miley’s election manifesto. The idea is then more money can be given to federations in order to grow.
On paper, it sounds like a simple idea. However, how can Miley guarantee that any potential surge in money issued to nations will be distributed to the appropriate areas?
“You can’t micromanage from the ITF what happens at national associations.” He admits.
“What you can do is try to facilitate good practice. If you see countries where they are doing a good job like Norway, Canada, and Australia. They are increasing participation and having good results. We need to share that.”
In order for this to happen, one idea is to issue tougher rules concerning what Federations do. Although the governing body of tennis will never have enough power to control what happens completely.
“The ITF needs to give strong guidelines about the practice for federations to develop tennis in their own countries, but it is up to the federation to do it.”
Building trust and a future
Some would question why anybody would want to take over at the ITF after what has been a turbulent past few months. In January the ITF Transition Tour was launched with an estimated value of $2 million being spent on research etc. It wasn’t long before players and coaches, including Toni Nadal and Magnus Norman, erupted with anger. Posting videos calling for the changes to be removed as an online petition attracted thousands of signatures. Six months later, the ITF backed down.
“What happened with the transition tour was that there was a lack of respect with (the lower level) players. I was one of those players and you need to respect these people have a right to play. I believe we can find a way to involve the top coaches in order to make the pathway more effective.”
There is undoubtedly a trust issue that has arisen. Especially concerning the lower ranked players. There will be no easy solution, but one suggestion is the creation of a player council. Following in the footsteps of both the ATP and WTA. Quite a risky idea given the political turmoil that continues to affect the men’s game.
“I want to set up an ITF player council which has current players. 12 players from both singles and doubles who meet up twice a year during the practice week of a grand slam.” He outlies.
“At the same time at the entry level, we need to send people to places such as Egypt and start listening and talking with players. That is how you get the trust back.”
One of the most striking facts from Miley concerned tennis participation in America. During the era of the Williams sisters, nearly 8 million fewer people played tennis in 2016 than in 2009. Falling from 24 million to 16.7 million. So how does Miley plan to turn this around?
In his opinion, it lies with fitting in with the present. Formats such as Fast 4 or Tie Break Tens are ones he thinks could be a solution. Shorter matches to fit in with people having less time in their everyday lives.
“Lifestyles are changing, especially in the developed market. So when lifestyles change, you need to adapt the product. For example people with less free time, you need to implement formats that are punchier.” Miley argues.
“The job for the future is to adapt competitions and caching to the lifestyles. At the professional level, we need to be conscious of the customer and be ready to adapt.’
“I like what the ATP has done with the Next Gen in Milan. They are experimenting a bit. At the same time, we need to protect the integrity of the sport.”
The election for the ITF presidency will take place in September. During that time Miley has vowed to travel to 45 countries. Quite an ambitious target, but one he is committed to.
Regardless of if he wins or now, few will ever question Miley’s commitment to tennis.
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