‘It Was Like Being In Prison’ - Serena Williams’ Coach Blasted By Former Player - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

WTA

‘It Was Like Being In Prison’ – Serena Williams’ Coach Blasted By Former Player

A former top 20 WTA star has described the 49-year-old as ‘not a great coach, but a great businessman.’

Published

on

Patrick Mouratoglou is one of the most well known coaches in the world of tennis but one of his former pupils have accused the Frenchman of disregarding her mental health during an extensive interview.

 

Former top 20 player Aravane Rezai started collaborating with Mouratoglou back in 2009 after winning the Tournament of Champions in Indonesia. A rising star of the sport, she made her grand slam debut at the 2005 French Open aged 18 before reaching the fourth round of the US Open the following year in what was her best ever result in a major. On the rise, she decided to enlist the help of Serena Williams’ current coach after being guided on the tour by her father.

“In Bali I felt that everything was in its place. I told myself there was no pressure, that I could play my best tennis against great players. The better I felt on the court, the happier I was off the court. That tournament, in addition, I invited my friend Patrick Mouratoglou and we all enjoyed together. I won the tournament and decided to work together.” Rezai told Punto de Break.

The collaboration was the start of what was a roller coaster experience, according to Rezai. Who accuses her former mentor of not caring about her own mental health. Initially the two got off to a solid start with a sense of professionalism being implemented into her career. However, it took a toll on her family life.

“What Patrick brought to my team was a real work plan. I was with my father on the track eight hours a day, but Patrick gave me that touch of professionalism: one hour of fitness, one hour of massage … In addition, he took me to quality training courts, gave me hitting partners, facilities.” She said.
“My father had a very strong character. Sometimes he was possessive, he wanted to protect me no matter what it took. I realized that Patrick sometimes wanted to calm that situation.’
“The problem is that he was that type of person who does not accept his responsibilities. He pressured me to face my parents. He put me in front of them, face to face, to get what he wanted: full control. He wanted results and he didn’t care how he got them, he didn’t care about my education or my past.”

On the court it was a different story as Rezai achieved one of the biggest titles of her entire career under Mouratoglou’s guidance. At the 2010 Madrid Open she downed Jelena Jankovic and Venus Williams en route to claiming the title. It was at the same tournament where she stunned former world No.1 Justine Henin in the first round.

Despite her success in the Spanish capital, Rezai said she was under immense pressure to deliver at the tournament. Comparing her training routine during that time to being in prison.

“I would not say that he is a great coach, but a great businessman: he knows how to play, how to analyze things from a tactical point of view.” She explained about her time with Mouratoglou.
“But if I go into details … In Madrid, I was put under enormous pressure to win that tournament. I couldn’t unwind, I couldn’t take the phone, the credit card, anything. It was like being in prison. I would get up at six in the morning to run an hour or two, do the physical training before my training, it was too much.’
“My father put a lot of pressure on me and he thought that if I put extra pressure on me it would make me better. And the truth is that it worked, but there comes a time when you can’t take it anymore.”
“That is why our relationship lasted just over a year. The people around me told him that I couldn’t take it anymore, but he replied that he didn’t care. I didn’t care about my mental health.”

Mouratoglou has worked with many top names throughout his career. Besides his long-time collaboration with Serena Williams, he has also previously mentored the likes of Grigor Dimitrov, Jeremy Chardy, Marcos Baghdatis and Stefanos Tsitsipas. He is the founder and Head Coach of his own academy located near Paris.

Two months after winning Madrid, Rezai would go on to win the Swedish Open in what was the last WTA title of her career to date.

Rezai’s career in numbers

WTA titles won: 4
Ranking high: 15
Prize money won: $2,811,046
WTA win-loss record: 287/ 212

Latest news

Elina Svitolina Cast Doubt Over Playing Tournaments Without Points

Ukraine’s top tennis player says she still has many questions concerning the upcoming resumption of the WTA Tour.

Published

on

Elina Svitolina (@TennisChannel on Twitter)

Elina Svitolina has hinted that she may decide not to play in certain tournaments if they are unable to offer any ranking points due to the restrictions that will be in place.

 

The world No.5 has cautiously welcomed the upcoming return of competitive tennis, which will resume at the start of August in Italy. Since March all events have been either suspended or cancelled due to the worldwide health crises. Svitolina’s last played at the Monterey Open in Mexico where she defeated Marie Bouzkova to win her 14th WTA title.

Yet to outline her calendar for the remainder of 2020, the 25-year-old says she still has many questions regarding the resumption of the sport. This year’s US Open will be taking place behind closed doors with players being kept in what essentially is being described as a ‘bubble.’ They will also be undergoing COVID-19 testing throughout. Serena Williams has confirmed her intention to play in New York, however, rivals Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova are both undecided.

“It’s great that everything is coming back, of course, but there are a lot of questions. I think that it’s not just me,” Svitolina said during an interview with btu.org.ua. “At the moment, the conditions that we are offered are not ideal, because there will be many tests, plus isolation, it’s not clear what will happen with the points, with the money … It’s very difficult to say something.’
“If there are no points in a tournament, I don’t know if it makes sense to go and play, because the conditions are enough If you need to spend so much time in isolation, this also plays a big role.”
“I know that there will be more meetings, that this will be decided in the coming weeks.”

The WTA has yet to publish what the ranking point system will be like for the rest of the year and if there will be any changes. On Saturday Spanish newspaper Marca reported that the Palermo Open, which is set to be the first WTA event to get underway when the Tour resumes, is contemplating not issuing points.

Tournament director Oliviero Palma has confirmed that $225,000 in prize money will be awarded and they are hoping to welcome a limited crowd of roughly 500 people to the event in line with local rules. However, he has not commented on the possibility of not awarding any points.

“We believe that around 500 spectators can be present in the stands, divided between the two stands . At the entrance, the fans will have to go through a thermoscanner (to check their temperature),” Sky Italian quoted Palma as saying.

In regards to the US Open, Svitolina says she is confident that the event will be held in the safest possible way. Although it is unclear if she will be playing there or not. Last year she reached the semifinals of the Grand Slam before falling in straight sets to Williams.

“I believe that the conditions are still quite stringent. For example, according to the rule, if you get sick or you have any symptoms, then you can be removed from any round and isolated for 14 days,” she said.
“Some points that are still not known exactly how they will go are quite difficult for all players. I think that they will do everything the best for us. We will watch in the near future how everything goes. I hope that everything will turn out and we will slowly return.”

When and where Svitolina will return to action remains unclear, but she has already returned back to training. Over the coming weeks she will also play in a series of exhibition matches before the Tour starts again.

“I’m already starting to slowly get back into shape, I will play several exhibition matches: in Switzerland in a couple of weeks, also in Berlin . I’ll prepare, it’s good that there are such exhibition tournaments. They are small, there are 8-10 people participating, so the risk is less, everything is done without spectators. For me, these are good intermediate tournaments that now give me motivation to train and prepare.” She concluded.

Svitolina started 2020 by winning 11 out of 17 matches played. She is currently just 10 points adrift of Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the world rankings.

Continue Reading

Latest news

Madison Keys ‘Looking Forward’ To Tennis Return Ahead Of Charleston Exhibition

Madison Keys is happy tennis is returning ahead of next week’s team exhibition in Charleston.

Published

on

Madison Keys (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Madison Keys is looking forward to the return of competitive tennis as she competes in an exhibition event in Charleston. 

 

The defending Volvo Car Open champion will play for the first time since the Australian Open next week when she competes in an exhibition event in Charleston.

Speaking to Journalists in a Zoom call, Keys is delighted that tennis is making its return, “Being able to have some of these tournaments back on the calendar has been really great even just for my mentality, just because I know I’m working for something,” Keys told wtatennis.com.

“I love that I not only get to work towards Charleston, but to be able to use this as momentum into getting back into matches and getting back into competing. I think all of us are super happy and lucky that we’re going to be able to do this.”

The American’s last match was a third round defeat at the Australian Open to Maria Sakkari but will start her preparations for August’s US Open next week.

Keys will captain Team Kindness against Bethanie Mattek-Sands’ Team Peace in a five day event that begins on Tuesday.

The two captains will get to choose seven other players to join their teams, with the following players also competing next week: Sofia Kenin, Sloane Stephens, Victoria Azarenka, Amanda Anisimova, Monica Puig, Ajla Tomljanovic, Danielle Collins, Alison Riske, Shelby Rogers, Genie Bouchard, Jennifer Brady, Leylah Fernandez, Emma Navarro and Caroline Dolehide.

Next week’s event will see a number of difference to a normal tennis event, with players calling their own lines as well as only one official being used, socially distancing applying for the players that are not participating, players holding their own towels and drinks and also no fans and media attending the event.

However none of these regulations affects Keys as she admitted to missing the thrill of competing, “Now we’re all like, please put me on a center court, break point down in the third, because I would love to have that feeling again,” Keys said.

“I think we all really just take for granted how much we love competing. And even those days where you lose, you get to go out and compete and you get to play a sport that you love, and I don’t think we’re ever going to forget that.”

Here is the schedule for next week’s event, which will be shown on the Tennis Channel for those in America:

Continue Reading

Latest news

Bianca Andreescu Commits To Title Defence At US Open As Others Play The Waiting Game

The Canadian believes the USTA has come up with ‘the best plan’ to ensure player safety at the major event.

Published

on

World No.6 Bianca Andreescu has confirmed that she intends to play at the US Open amid concerns that some of her rivals may choose to skip the event due to COVID-19 restrictions.

 

Andreescu is the defending champion at Flushing Meadows after defeating Serena Williams in the final last year. Becoming the first Canadian player in history to win a Grand Slam title at singles level. Taking to Twitter, the 20-year-old said she plans to make the most of tennis resuming later this year. On Wednesday the revised provisional schedule for 2020 was published with competitive tennis set to start during the first week of August in Palermo, Italy.

“The US Open will always hold a very special place in my heart. Arthur Ashe is where I won my first grand slam title and I treasure so many unforgettable moments at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Since then, we’ve seen sports, and the world as we know it, come to a halt due to the spread of COVID-19,” Andreescu wrote.
“I can’t stress enough that the health and safety of, not only the players, but of all those involved in making tennis happen again this season is, and has always been, of the utmost importance.”

It has been more than seven months since Andreescu last played a match on the Tour after missing the start of this season due to a knee injury. She was due to return to action at the Credit One Bank International in Charleston. An exhibition tournament set to feature some of the best players in North America. However, tournament organisers have announced she has withdrawn from competition. Although it is believed that her decision was due to logistics and is not a physical issue.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s US Open will not have any qualifying rounds and the size of the doubles draw has been cut. Players will be subject to testing throughout their stay in New York in which they will essentially be kept in a ‘bubble.’ Also this year, the Western and Southern Open have been relocated to Flushing meadows and will take place prior to the Grand Slam. Both events will take place behind closed doors.

“I have no doubt that the USTA has come up with the best plan to ensure our safety as we look to the return of tennis in 2020. The decision, I know was not made lightly and I completely support and understand every players personal opinions on the matter and their comfort level traveling near and far to compete on the world’s biggest stage,” Andreescu said.
“Returning to life as we once knew it is no longer an option but, I plan to make the most of the opportunity to get back on the court, re-connect with players and friends and hopefully bring tennis back to the millions of fans across the globe safely.”

Others still on the fence

Despite Andreescu’s confidence in the event, others are sticking to the cautious side. World No.2 Simona Halep, who is the reigning Wimbledon champion, has previously cast doubt on her travelling to New York this year. It had been originally reported that the Romanian plans to play tournaments in just Europe, but a spokesperson from her team has since said that no final decision has been made yet.

“Given the conditions outlined in the US Open this morning, as of today I do not currently plan to play in NYC,” Halep said in a press release issued to Christopher Clarey from The New York Times.
“However, as we know, this situation is fluid and the conditions may change and improve before the entry deadline in July.’
“I would like to underline that my decision is not set in stone.” She added.

Another top women’s name yet to make her final decision is Petra Kvitova. The Czech says she is hoping that the current health situation in the American city improved in the coming week to make her final decision ‘easier.’ Since making her grand slam main draw debut in 2008, Kvitova has never missed the US Open.

“I would like to congratulate the U.S. Open on their hard work and vision in getting to this point and for putting player safety at the centre of their plans,” she told Reuters via e-mail.
“Hopefully the COVID-19 numbers and conditions around travel restrictions continue to improve in order to make the decision to play an easy one.”

On the other hand, Serena Williams has declared that she would be playing at the tournament. Doing so by recording a video statement that was played during the USTA’s virtual press conference yesterday. The American will be bidding to win a record-equalling 24th major title and become the first woman ever to have won a Grand Slam in four different decades.

“I really cannot wait to return in New York and play the US Open 2020,” the six-time champion said. “I feel like the USTA is going to do a really good job of ensuring everything is amazing and everything is perfect and everyone is safe. It’s going to be exciting.”

The US Open will get underway on August 31st.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending