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  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

With Serena Williams and fiancé Alexis Ohanian expecting their first child, stars from the tennis world and beyond have been congratulating the 23-time Grand Slam winner.

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Halep To Play Fed Cup

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

CLUJ-NAPOCA, Romania – 2014 French Open finalist Simona Halep had initially announced she would miss this week’s Fed Cup tie against defending champions in the Czech Republic due to a nasal infection that required surgery.

The World No.3 reversed that decision on Tuesday, declaring she will attempt to defend her title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and play at the Qatar Total Open – a tournament she won two years ago – but first, she would indeed take part in a historic home tie for Romania this weekend:

Halep has been a Fed Cup stalwart throughout her career with an overall 12-6 record since 2010, and was instrumental in helping her country achieve World Group status for the first time since 1992. The process took two years for Halep, who played all five ties in 2014 just to qualify for World Group II, and helped lead Romania through a 3-2 win over Spain last February.

Flanked by teammates Monica Niculescu, Andreea Mitu, and Raluca Olaru, Halep will take on a Czech team that has won Fed Cup in four of the last five years, and led by 2015’s championship line-up in Petra Kvitova, Karolina Pliskova, Barbora Strycova and Denisa Allertova.

Check out Halep’s announcement on Facebook.

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WTA Player Of The Month: Kerber

WTA Player Of The Month: Kerber

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Angelique Kerber came into the 2016 Australian Open having never surpassed the fourth round at the Happy Slam. Two weeks later she left with the title, the No.2 ranking, and a great big smile.

The German had one of the toughest roads to a Grand Slam title in recent memory; in her first Australian Open quarterfinal, she dismissed former No.1 and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka in straight sets; Kerber had never beaten Azarenka in six previous attempts and had lost to her in the finals of the Brisbane International to start the season. From there, she ended Johanna Konta’s fairytale run into the semifinals and put on a comprehensive performance in the final against World No.1 Serena Williams. Looking to stop the 21-time Grand Slam champion from tying countrywoman Steffi Graf’s record of major titles, Kerber did one better and became the first German Grand Slam titlist since Graf herself at the 1999 French Open.

“I think in these two weeks, it changed a little bit when I won against Azarenka,” she explained to WTA Insider. “I felt, ‘Ok, I can believe in myself.’ This is actually the only way to win a Grand Slam.

“That was the change that I made in the last few days, to go for it and believe in myself and be aggressive and not hope that someone will give it to me. That was also the key to winning the Australian Open.”

A small shift in mindset took Kerber far from the dangerous floater she once was when she burst onto the scene in 2011 to reached the semifinals of the US Open; it took her all the way to a career-high ranking and helped her become January’s WTA Player of the Month!

Final Results for January’s WTA Player Of The Month

1. Angelique Kerber (41%)
2. Serena Williams (28%)
3. Agnieszka Radwanska (21%)
4. Victoria Azarenka (10%)

Angelique Kerber

2015 WTA Player of the Month Winners

October: Agnieszka Radwanska
September: Flavia Pennetta
August: Belinda Bencic
July: Samantha Stosur
June: Serena Williams
May: Serena Williams
April: Angelique Kerber
March: Serena Williams
February: Simona Halep
January: Serena Williams


How it works:

Four finalists are selected by wtatennis.com
Winner is then determined by a fan vote on wtatennis.com
 

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Puig Talks Olympics With Telemundo

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

MIAMI, FL, USA – Before heading off to Puerto Rico next week for her big Olympic welcome, Monica Puig made a stopover in her hometown of Miami for a quick cuddle with her new dog Rio and the first leg of her media whirlwind.

While in town the gold medalist, who made history for her country by becoming the first Puerto Rican athlete ever to win a gold medal hit Telemundo’s Miami studios for her first televised interview since her big win in Rio.

“I’m still super emotional,” Puig told the morning talk show Un Nuevo Día. “I don’t even know how to talk about it because I still feel like I’m living a dream.”

“It’s been a long year with a lot of sacrifices, but everything’s worked out well for me so I can’t complain.”

Puig also shared the meaning of her social media rallying cry, the hashtag #PicaPower. The tag comes from the saying “picar piedras,” meaning “to break rocks” and is Spanish slang for working long and hard at small tasks for small rewards.

“You’ve got to break a lot of rocks to accomplish what you want,” she said.

Puig was joined on the show by Grammy-winning merengue singer Elvis Crespo, who surprised her by dedicating a rendition of the iconic song “Qué Bonita Bandera” to the island’s new national hero.

The singer even performed an ode to her Olympic feat to a merengue version of “La Borinqueña,” Puerto Rico’s official anthem, which was heard at the Olympics for the first time ever last week.

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10 Things: St Petersburg & Taiwan

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Five Top 20 players are in action this week in two WTA events that are being staged for the first time.

Here’s 10 Things To Know about St. Petersburg and Kaohsiung!

1) St. Petersburg has four Top 20 players in the draw.
No.11 Belinda Bencic, No.16 Roberta Vinci, No.18 Caroline Wozniacki and No.20 Ana Ivanovic are all in action this week at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy.

2) This is the first edition of St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy as a WTA Premier event.
The event was previously held six times as an ITF tournament (from 2003-2008 and in 2015) and this year marks the first time in 25 years that WTA tennis returns to St Petersburg, Russia.

3) Bencic leads the pack in Russia…
For the first time in her career, Belinda Bencic is the No.1 seed at a WTA tournament at St. Petersburg. Her previous highest seeding was No.3 in Washington DC last year.

4) … While another 18-year-old is hoping to make big moves.
Daria Kasatkina is one to watch in St. Petersburg: She’s the second youngest player in the main draw and is coming off her joint-best result at a Grand Slam after reaching the 3rd round at the Australian Open, where she knocked out No.29 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova for the biggest win of her career.

5) Bencic and Wozniacki could face each other in the semifinals.
No.3 seed Caroline Wozniacki, who took a late wildcard into St. Petersburg, is on a semifinal collision course with Bencic, who beat her four times in 2015. See how the draw breaks down here.

6) A former World No.1 headlines in Kaohsiung.
And with 48 WTA titles to her name, No.1-seeded Venus Williams has more titles than the entire Taiwan main draw put together!

7) The Taiwan Open in Kaohsiung is the first WTA event in Taiwan.
Taiwan’s first taste of WTA tennis came back in 2012, with Taipei hosting a WTA 125K Series event from 2012 to 2015.

8) Elizaveta Kulichkova is one to watch. 
Kulichkova enters the Taiwan Open following a string of career bests: at the Australian Open she reached the 3rd round of a Grand Slam for the first time and scored her career best win over No.25 Andrea Petkovic.

9) The Taiwan Open is one out of a record nine WTA Premier and International tournaments hosted on the Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan…
The other eight are the China Open in Beijing, Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, Guangzhou International Women’s Open, Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open, Jiangxi Women’s Tennis Open in Nanchang, Shenzhen Open, Tianjin Open and WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.

10) Check out all the best live action this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV.
And learn how you can follow it all right here.

 

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Kerber Moves Past Mladenovic

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

CINCINNATI, OH, USA – No.2 seed Angelique Kerber began her quest to become World No.1 in earnest on Wednesday, dispatching the always dangerous Kristina Mladenovic, 6-0, 7-5, to reach the third round of the Western & Southern Open.

Watch live action from Cincinnati this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!

“It wasn’t so easy to come to a tournament with just one or two days to prepare, and first rounds are always tough,” she told Andrew Krasny during her on-court interview. “But I was trying to play my game, and it’s so nice to be back in Cincinnati; I have great memories from the last few years, and the fans are amazing. It’s just so nice to be back here on the Center Court.”

Kerber arrived in Cincinnati fresh off her run to the final of the Olympic tennis event – where she became the first German woman since Stefanie Graf in 1992 to medal in tennis.

“It was really special, one of the really special weeks in my career so far. Winning a medal was a dream; when I was young, I was the Olympics at home and to go back home with a medal right now is an incredible feeling. I had an incredible week there.”

The World No.2 ultimately showed few showed few signs of fatigue against Mladenovic, who was playing her second match of the day after Tuesday’s rain interrupted her first round match against Kateryna Bondarenko. While both players hit 18 winners, it was Kerber’s consistency that won the day, with 20 unforced errors to 44 from the Frenchwoman, who was a game from forcing a deciding set before the German clinched the match in one hour and 15 minutes.

Up next for Kerber is the unseeded and looming World No.20 Barbora Strycova; the Olympic Bronze medalist in women’s doubles will be playing with Co-No.1 Sania Mirza for the first time this week in Cincinnati, but has been equally impressively in singles this season. Surviving a topsy-turvy first set against No.14 seed Samantha Stosur, Strycova saved a set point in the first set tie-break – and needing six of her own – to ultimately beat the Aussie, 7-6(11), 6-3.

Kerber leads their head-to-head 4-1 but the two have split their 2016 meetings and Strycova won their most recent encounter at the Mutua Madrid Open.

It’s an important week for the reigning Australian Open champion and Wimbledon finalist; should she win the Western & Southern Open title, she would end Serena Williams’ 183 straight weeks atop the WTA rankings and become the top seed at the US Open, the final Grand Slam tournament of the year.

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Cincinnati Thursday: Sweet 16

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

CINCINNATI, OH, USA – Twelve of 16 seeds remain in Cincinnati, and they will all be battling for a spot in the Western & Southern Open quarterfinals on Thursday. Chris Oddo previews the must-see sweet 16 match-ups for wtatennis.com.

Thursday, Third Round

Center Court
[3] Simona Halep (ROU #4) vs. Daria Gavrilova (AUS #47)
Head-to-head:
Halep leads, 2-1

Key Stat: Halep stretched her win streak to 11 with a straight-sets victory over Annika Beck.
Eleven wins and counting. It’s plain to see that things are going along swimmingly for Romania’s Simona Halep these days. She has not lost since Wimbledon and the World No.4 picked up some extra confidence with a breezy second-round win over Germany’s Beck on Wednesday in Cincinnati. “I feel confident,” she said after working her way past Beck in 55 minutes. “I had pretty good tournaments before coming here and I feel my game.” Halep has already been in Cincinnati for a week, and says that the conditions suit her in more ways than one. “I came Wednesday or Thursday,” she said. “That helped me a lot to play today because I have many days to prepare. I like these courts. I like that they’re faster a little bit and the ball is a bit heavier. I like these conditions.” Will the conditions favor Halep when she takes on Aussie qualifier Daria Gavrilova? The 22-year-old has already won four matches in Cincinnati, the latest and most impressive over Elina Svitolina. The No.3 seed will come in as the favorite, but Gavrilova already owns three Top 10 wins this season – one of which came against Halep in Rome – and is certainly capable of the upset.

Pick: Halep in three

[5] Agnieszka Radwanska (POL #5) vs. [10] Johanna Konta (GBR #13)
Head-to-head:
First meeting

Key Stat: Konta comes in with a 4-3 record versus the Top 10 in 2016.
Johanna Konta made a successful Queen City debut against World No.121 Donna Vekic and the British No.1 is happy to have another chance for a big win on Thursday against Agnieszka Radwanska. “I am very happy to have gotten through that and just give myself another shot at coming back tomorrow and keep trying to get better,” Konta said after recording her 32nd victory of the season. Konta says that her success in 2016 has been a product of hard work and learning from experience. “I keep trying to do that every time I step out onto the court, to keep basically taking everything from the match that I’m playing and try to reinvest it into the following matches,” she said. “I think I’ve been able to do a good job at just reinvesting those experiences and becoming that much tougher.” She’ll have to be super tough to get past Thursday’s opponent. Agnieszka Radwanska raced past Andrea Petkovic on Wednesday, dropping just one game in the process. The three-time Cincinnati quarterfinalist will meet Konta for the first time and will look to test the powerful Brit with her variety, creativity and defense. Will Konta be up for the challenge?

Pick: Radwanska in three

Grandstand
[2] Angelique Kerber (GER #2) vs. Barbora Strycova (CZE #20)
Head-to-head:
Kerber leads 4-1Key Stat: Kerber could ascend to the No. 1 ranking with the title in Cincinnati.
With Serena Williams out of the draw with a shoulder injury, the No.1 ranking is in play this week for Angelique Kerber. It’s certainly a big deal, and the media has rightfully placed a lot of attention on it, but the World No.2 is too smart to fall into that mind trap. “No, that’s not on my mind,” Kerber said after defeating Kristina Mladenovic in her second-round match on Wednesday. “Of course everybody is talking about this and asking me, but at the end it’s still a long way to go. There are really tough opponents here in the draw and I’m not thinking about this. I’m just trying to go step by step, and at the end of the week we will see how far I can get and what will happen.” Kerber will leave the ranking talk to the media and instead focus her attention on her next opponent, Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic. The talented 30-year-old is fresh off a bronze medal in doubles at the Olympics, plus wins over Eugenie Bouchard and Sam Stosur here in Cincinnati. Kerber has the 4-1 edge over the Czech, but Strycova took their last meeting in straight-sets in Madrid.

Pick: Kerber in two

Stadium 3
[4] Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP #3) vs. [16] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS #18)
Head-to-head:
Muguruza leads, 2-0

Key Stat: Muguruza earned her first win at Cincinnati by beating CoCo Vandeweghe on Wednesday.
Garbiñe Muguruza earned her first win at Cincinnati on Wednesday, easing past hard-serving American CoCo Vandeweghe in straight sets. Will she be able to back it up against an in-form opponent with a spot in the last eight on the line? Muguruza seems to be settling back into a dominant posture after a forgettable summer on the grass. Aside from her thumping at the hands of Monica Puig in Rio, Muguruza has won the other six sets she’s played on the hard courts. Is that enough for the Spaniard to build on ahead of what promises to be a hard-hitting tilt with Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Thursday? The 25-year-old has been a player on the rise this summer, reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and claiming wins in nine of her last twelve. Though she has lost both matches she’s played against Muguruza, Pavlyuchenkova has won three of her last six against the Top 10. On the fast hardcourts at Cincinnati, this should be a dizzying display of power tennis between two players that embrace the grip it and rip it mentality.

Pick: Pavlyuchenkova in three

By the numbers…
306 – Number of consecutive weeks that Serena Williams has held the No. 1 ranking, which is third-most all time behind Navratilova (332) and Graf (377).
47 – The position of the lowest-ranked player remaining in the draw (Gavrilova).
12 – Number of seeded players that have advanced to the sweet 16 in Cincinnati.
3 – Number of qualifiers (Timea Babos, Gavrilova) plus lucky losers (Misaki Doi) in the round of 16.

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Catching Up With Nadia Petrova

Catching Up With Nadia Petrova

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

The St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy debuts on the WTA calendar following an Australian Open that featured impressive performances from a trio of talented young Russians. Among them, Margarita Gasparyan reached her first major second week, while former French Open junior champion Daria Kasatkina made a second straight Grand Slam third round. Each fell to World No.1 Serena Williams; each will be on hand to play her home tournament.

On the outside looking in is another Russian Roland Garros junior champ – off the court for the last two years with a torn labral, but one who knows a thing or two about playing the 21-time Grand Slam champion on Rod Laver Arena.

Former World No.3 Nadia Petrova played a pair of must-watch Melbourne matches against the American in the mid-00s – the last coming in 2007, when Williams was ranked No.81.

“I remember that match,” Petrova told WTA Insider last fall. “I was two points away from winning, serving for it. But in this critical situation, she came up with some amazing shots and I was pushed back to the wall. I tried everything and she would come up with something even better.”

The Muscovite later got her revenge in Beijing and Madrid, becoming one of the few players to earn back-to-back wins over the World No.1.

Nadia Petrova

“I always enjoyed our matches; every time I stepped on the court against her, I was never intimidated. I knew what I had to do in order to win, or at least play a good match.”

A prominent part of Russia’s golden generation – one that includes Grand Slam champions Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Anastasia Myskina, Olympic Gold medalist Elena Dementieva, and World No.1 Dinara Safina – Petrova has been trying to heal an injury she first picked up during the 2013 French Open – ten years after she became the first Russian woman since Olga Morozova in 1975 to reach the semifinals on the terre battue.

“It was very cold that year,” she said of her first round loss to Monica Puig. “I thought my muscles were just overworked. The doctors and physios said that I needed a good break and I would be fine for the grass court season.

“I followed that advice, but when I returned to court, it got worse, to the point that I struggled through my first round at Wimbledon. It was a little bit easier in doubles, but I had to do more medical research and see some other specialists.”

Despite managing to qualify for a sixth overall WTA Finals appearance with Katarina Srebotnik, the 37-time WTA titlist (13 singles, 24 doubles) soon made the decision to stop playing altogether in the hopes of fully healing her hip before launching a return.

“I’d rather be playing tournaments, going from one place to another. I miss all the emotions, the excitement of a win or a loss. That part of me is missing right now, but unfortunately my hip has been still giving me a hard time.”

Nadia Petrova

No stranger to long lay-offs, a then-19-year-old Petrova was poised for a breakout 2002 season when a stress fracture stunted her progress for six months.

“That was a reality check, and a big test for me,” she said of her first major injury. “I’d had a great off-season, and I started really well in my first event, almost beating Venus Williams. I was a Top 30 player for the first time, but right before the Australian Open, I had to pull out because of my foot.

“It was hard seeing the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon just go by. All that was left was to just see it on TV. My ranking dropped out of Top 100, and it was the first time that I had to start from the scratch. But I managed, and I’m sure that made me a stronger and better player.”

Rehabbing a labral tear presently remains the biggest test for the now-33-year-old Russian, who refuses to make any immediate decisions about her future.

“I’ll feel like I’m making improvements, but as soon as I start loading my body with practicing and playing, it starts showing signs of breaking down again. I think it’s from the years that I’ve been on tour, the wear and tear.”

Nadia Petrova

For a woman on the move for most of her life, 24 months at a standstill has been a “mixture of emotions” for the two-time Grand Slam semifinalist, who has spent the time finishing the renovations on her Miami home, giving back through her eponymous foundation, and otherwise enjoying a normal life with her dog.

“It does feel good to be in one place. It’s nice to wake up in your own bed every morning, but after doing it for so many years, you get used to the traveling. Sometimes I do miss getting on a plane and going somewhere, the change of surroundings. I’m getting a bit tired of being in one place.”

The daughter of elite athletes – her mother was an Olympic bronze medalist in the 4×400 meter relay – Petrova began playing tennis at eight years old; she left Moscow at 12 as her parents pursued coaching opportunities in Egypt and Poland.

As a teenager, she relocated to the Netherlands to work with coach Glen Schaap (who later worked with Safina and junior rival Jelena Dokic), but admitted it was hard to ever feel at home in any one place.

“I really didn’t get attached to people. Of course, you make friends, but it’s not like ones you grow up and go to school with, and you create a strong bond. It’s hard to leave those kinds of people behind, but I didn’t really have that.

“I do have a lot of friends in all these places that I still keep in touch with, and I did enjoy traveling. I was a teenager that really liked exploring new places, getting to know new cultures, cuisines. For me, it was fascinating.”

Nadia Petrova

Some of her strongest bonds were forged during her brief tenure on the junior circuit, where she upset Dokic for the 1998 junior title in Paris.

“We were competing against each other but we still were into socializing and hanging out. We would always do something fun after the tennis was over. It was a lot of good quality time.

“Transitioning from juniors to pros, we kept close, tried to support each other, show up at each other’s matches. But it was an emotional rollercoaster because there’s a big gap in level. Everyone is older, more experienced, and a lot stronger.

“It was a difficult moment and, of course, when you are a brand new player on the tour, it’s not like everyone is warm and welcoming. You have to earn your spot among the players, and prove yourself with good wins.”

Former No.1 Tracy Austin once remarked, “Every time Petrova gets up a head of steam, she gets injured.” Indeed, physical issues of varying severity likely kept the Russian, with her big serve and booming all-court game, from realizing her potential in an era that boasted both Williams sisters, Belgians Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, Americans Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati, Swiss Miss Martina Hingis, French star Amélie Mauresmo – and, of course, all of her countrywomen.

Nadia Petrova

“It’s just genetically how my body is built and how it handles all the sudden movements in a match. A lot of leg injuries and muscle strains I had came from my lower back and my pelvis being out of alignment. It took me a while to understand that, to start taking proper care of my body.

“I’m also not that kind of a player where, if I’m out for two-three months, I can pick up where I left off. It would take me a while to get back into everything – the tournaments and months of practice – to that same level where I could feel and see the game, to feel confident on the court again.”

When it came together, she was almost unstoppable. She won her own Olympic Bronze medal in women’s doubles with Maria Kirilenko and titles on all surfaces in her 15 years on tour. She defeated 16 of her generation’s 18 Grand Slam champions, and 13 of the 14 women who had been or went on to be World No.1.

She is one of only ten women to beat both Williams sisters – winners of a combined 45 Grand Slam titles – in singles and doubles, and handed former No.1 Kim Clijsters the most lop-sided loss of her career, a 6-0, 6-1 clinic at the 2010 Australian Open that Petrova calls her “perfect match.”

Her first breakthrough came in 2003; ranked No.76, she roared into the final four of the French Open, repeating the run two years later.

Nadia Petrova

“After the foot injury in 2002, I had no expectations. I knew my draw was difficult, but I had an amazing first round over Monica Seles and followed it up with the win over Capriati.

“I remember even having set point against Clijsters in the semifinals but I was having a bit of pain in my leg. After losing that set point, I was really not able to regain that level.

“But that really was a big turning point for me in my career.”

A player for whom potential often outpaced progress, Petrova was the best player not to have won a WTA title for two years, falling in her first four finals before coming full circle at the Generali Ladies Linz.

“A few times, I felt like I had bad luck because I was so close. Other times, I’d get into my head when I was close to winning, and I couldn’t finish it off because of the nerves. I was over-thinking it too much.

“I have such good memories of Linz because it was a lot of firsts for me. It was my first doubles title, and my first singles title, as well. It was almost like a home tournament, and everything was organized very well. I liked the city, and the extra things that they would do for the players. They went out of the way to make it a nice tournament. After the first win there, everything got a lot easier.”

Nadia Petrova

For a while, it was effortless. She paired up with longtime friend Tomasz Iwanski in early 2006 and won her next four finals, heading into the French Open as the best player without a major title, at a career-high ranking with a 15-match winning streak on clay.

“I was feeling very confident; it was the first time I saw winning a Grand Slam as a possibility. I started to believe, but unfortunately, it was very sad, some silly injury. I felt my dreams were shattered, or at least that kind of belief and confidence.”

Straining her upper leg in practice, she fought through a losing first round battle against Akiko Morigami, a missed opportunity from which Petrova believes she never recovered.

“I did regain a certain level of play, but I don’t think I ever came close to that mental state in my career where I felt like I was able to make that extra step.

“For me, it was about the results, winning a lot of matches and just keeping the momentum.”

Nadia Petrova

Petrova separated from Iwanski soon after, leading to a string of coaching arrangements – including one with Vlado Platenik, who currently coaches Kastkina – that yielded an array of highs and lows.

“Honestly, I wish I had one coach from the beginning to the end of my career, having established a strong relationship. I know I’m not also an easy person on the court; I’m a perfectionist, and I have my demands.

“But I also feel like many coaches stop giving 100% after a while. I’m a person who wants 100% from a coach every day, at every tournament.

“It’s the same amount I’m asking from myself when I’m on the court.”

Taking that 100% and putting it toward a more philanthropic bend has been the most rewarding part of her time away from tour. The Nadia Petrova Foundation works with underprivileged children by raising funds and organizing clinics that teach them a game that already gave the Russian so much.

Nadia Petrova

“It gave me such a great opportunity to travel the world, to experience different cultures and cuisines, to get to know a lot of wonderful people. Hopefully, when I was playing my best, I was able to inspire some kids with my game. I was able to give back to the community through all the charity work that I did on my own and together with the WTA.”

A natural athlete and experienced competitor, the two-time Olympian can’t help but sometimes wonder, “what if?” But whether or not she returns to tennis, Nadia Petrova ultimately appears at peace.

“I do think, maybe I was starting now, things would have been different for me; getting to a Grand Slam win or get to the top of the rankings, I believe, was a lot harder then. Every week there was Serena, Venus, and Davenport and Capriati, Justine, Kim, and Mauresmo. It was a tough competition.

“The generation when I played, the Top 10 was just packed with huge names. Many ended up winning Slams and carried on such great careers that the majority of them will be in the Tennis Hall of Fame.

“I am very honored and proud that I was also playing during this kind of time.”

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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