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Mauresmo Receives Hall Of Fame Ring

Mauresmo Receives Hall Of Fame Ring

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

PARIS, France – To describe Amélie Mauresmo as a late bloomer isn’t quite right. She was a two-time junior champion as a teenager, winning the girls’ titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Her all-court game, played with that typical Gallic flourish, were evidence of a preternatural talent and tennis IQ that outmatched her young years.

And yet, when the now 37-year-old Hall of Famer looks back on her legacy, one word seems to define it: Persistence.

“When I was 20 or 22, I thought maybe I could achieve No.1 and win these big trophies,” Mauresmo told WTA Insider at Roland Garros. “But as a little girl I never really expected that. It was a passion. I was lucky to have a gift in that sport. It really brought me everything in my life. But I never really expected that. You can’t, really.”

Last year, Mauresmo was inducted in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The two-time major champion and former No.1 was pregnant with her first child last summer and was unable to attend the induction ceremony. But she will make up for lost time this summer, when she makes her way to Newport, Rhode Island for her formal induction, alongside this year’s class of inductees, which includes her long-time rival Justine Henin and Marat Safin.

Amelie Mauresmo

On Saturday, before the women’s final at Roland Garros, she accepted her Hall of Fame ring in a ceremony on Court Philippe Chatrier. Mauresmo finished her career with 25 WTA singles titles, spent 39 weeks at No.1, and was ranked in the Top 5 for 191 weeks. She represented her country impeccably in international competition as well. She is the winningest player for France in Fed Cup competition, compiling a 30-9 record, and won a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics. The soft-spoken Frenchwoman admitted it has taken her time to process her Hall of Fame status.

“In France we don’t really have this celebration of former players and accomplishments,” she said. “So at first I needed time to really process what it was, and the people in there, and all the previous inductees. Then I started to really – ‘whoa’ – felt honored and proud to be part of this group.

“The former players that are celebrated there are incredible. To be a part of this group is incredible. I never thought I would achieve this.”

Born in Saint-Germain-En-Laye, which also happens to be Caroline Garcia’s hometown, Mauresmo became the 1st Frenchwoman to reach No.1 in 2004. Though she made her first major final in 1999 at the Australian Open, it took her seven years before she finally broke through to win her first major title, winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2006. She retired three years later in 2009.

“I don’t know if they are going to see someone who really changed the game,” Mauresmo said, when asked about her legacy in the game. “Maybe [they will see someone who] not change the game but bringing something different to the game. Someone with generosity and emotions and was trying to carry these things around. And perseverance is a very important word in my career. It took me time.”

Amelie Mauresmo

When asked whether she was conscious of building a legacy during her career, Mauresmo said no. It’s something she regrets.

“Once I stopped I was less selfish in a way,” she said. “I saw it it in a different way, I stepped back and saw how important it would have been to already, while I was still in my career, maybe bring the young ones with me. I did some things but looking back I think I could have done more.”

“I think taking over the Fed Cup captaincy, helping Andy (Murray), talking to players, now I feel like I do it a lot more. And if you don’t do it, it’s kind of wasted. Everything you learned in your career, everything you learned maybe the hard way, you try to give it to others. Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don’t. It’s not easy, but you try.”

“I’m happy with everything I’ve done. I’m happy with the choices that I made after I stopped my career. That to me is the most important.”

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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Insider Podcast: Serena vs. Garbiñe

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

On the final Dropshot Edition of the 2016 French Open, Courtney Nguyen and David Kane preview what promises to be a thrilling conclusion to the two weeks on the terre battue, as World No.1 Serena Williams stands just one match from winning her 22nd Grand Slam title, which would tie her with Steffi Graf.

Across the net from the illustrious American is No.4 seed Garbiñe Muguruza, a 22-year-old playing in her second Grand Slam final in under 12 months, who is vying to become the second Spaniard to lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen after Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, who won the tournament three times.

Hear from the finalists and Sánchez Vicario herself as Nguyen and Kane give their analysis of the budding big stage rivalry between Williams and Muguruza.

Who has the edge in the second Grand Slam final of the season? Allez we go:

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on any podcast app of your choice and reviews are always helpful, so if you like what you’ve heard so far, leave us one. You can also get new episode alerts by following us on Twitter @WTA_Insider.

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Insider Debates: Who Will Win In Paris

Insider Debates: Who Will Win In Paris

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Courtney Nguyen, Point: When World No.1 Serena Williams takes to Court Philippe Chatrier on Saturday for the Roland Garros final, she’ll be looking to match Stefanie Graf’s Open Era record of 22 major singles title, successfully defend her French Open title for the first time in her career, and capture her fourth French Open title. And she’ll be the underdog.

No really, bear with me.

Serena arrives at her second major final of the season on the slightest of sputters. In three of her last four matches she’s looked nervous, out-of-rhythm and, at times, injured. The World No.1 has dropped just one set en route to the final but looked far from convincing in her last two matches, a three-set win over Yulia Putintseva in the quarterfinals and a narrow straight-set win over Kiki Bertens in the semifinals.

After the semifinals she reluctantly confirmed a report that she was dealing with an adductor injury. Due to the rainouts and scheduling shuffles, Saturday’s final will be the 34-year-old’s fourth consecutive day of play.

Serena has not faced a Top 10 opponent all tournament and she’ll see a huge step up in quality when she faces No.4 Garbiñe Muguruza. The Spaniard brushed off a nervous, three-set opening win over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova to roll through her next five matches without losing a set. She is fit, she is healthy, and she is confident. And she has the confidence in knowing she handed Serena one of her worst losses ever at a Slam, a 6-2, 6-2 rout here in Paris two years ago. Muguruza is in-form. Serena has looked shaky.

 Serena Williams

But how much will that matter, if at all, in the final?

For all of Serena’s ups and downs, we know she wins on one significant metric: experience. That’s what got her through against Putintseva. The youngster from Kazakhstan was five points away from the win, but it was Serena who stood tall and found her best when her back was against the wall. Similarly, Bertens was up a break in both sets and held a set point in the tie-break. Serena snuffed out the charge by sheer force of will. Flash back to the third round when the American rallied from 2-5 down in the second set tiebreaker to Kristina Mladenovic to seal a 12-10 win.

This is simply what Serena Williams does. Even in a year when she’s perceived to be slumping, her run in Paris has vaulted her up to No.1 in the Road to Singapore Leaderboard.

“Obviously I want to do well and I would like to win tomorrow,” Serena said. “But, you know, I think Muguruza has been playing really well. She’s been playing a really aggressive game and going for her shots. Regardless, I think it will be a good match. I mean, last time we played here in France she was able to win the match.

“I learned so much from that match. I hate to lose, but when I do, you know, I hope it was worth it. That match was definitely one of those that was kind of needed and worth it.”

Serena Williams

Serena holds a 3-1 edge in her head-to-head against Muguruza. All their matches have come at the Slams, with the most recent being the 2015 Wimbledon final, which Serena won 6-4, 6-4. Muguruza gave her a tough test that day but again, Serena’s willpower, weapons, and yes, experience, led to the win. Muguruza was green then and she will be less green on Saturday when she competes in her second major final. But again, Serena has been here before. Many times. And more often than not she’s come through.

In fact, all Serena needs to look back on for inspiration is her title run here in Paris a year ago. On the brink of defeat match after match, and suffering from a virus, she won five three-set matches during the fortnight, four in which she dropped the first set, including three back-to-back to win the title. As Putintseva so eloquently put it after her three-set loss: “I think the match was very close and very far from being on my side.”

That’s the pressure you feel when you’re up against the sport’s greatest escape artist, who has at her disposal some of the greatest weapons the game has ever seen. Muguruza will no doubt come out firing. But with a 21-5 record in Slam finals, Serena has the resources she can count on to get to the finish line.

Garbine Muguruza

David Kane, Counterpoint: Garbiñe Muguruza’s two weeks on the terre battue could easily serve as a microcosm of her season thus far. A slow start in the first round against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova caused many to wonder whether the Spaniard was ready to win the requisite six matches to reach her second Grand Slam final.

But Muguruza recovered, and has looked better and better as the tournament progressed, easing past 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets and weathering the storms – both literal and figurative – to outlast Shelby Rogers in the quarterfinals.

The first Spanish woman in a French Open final since Conchita Martinez in 2000, Muguruza could become the second-ever from Spain to lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen after Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, who won the event three times (1989, 1994, 1998). But Muguruza admits she found herself idolizing another of her compatriots as she grew up and into the game.

“With Arantxa, the problem was that I was very young. I didn’t watch her. I watched her after, when I was, you know, more into tennis. But when I was that young I was not even watching tennis, so I didn’t catch her.

“But I caught more of Rafa when I was younger and like looking at him here, you know, every year winning, like, ‘No way! He did it again and he did it and he did it!’ So I think he inspired me more.”

Garbine Muguruza

Barring a slight hiccup when it came time to serve for the match, her semifinal victory over 2010 finalist and No.21 seed Samantha Stosur was her most emphatic of the fortnight, one that featured 20 winners and five aces, three of which arrived in the final game to extinguish a late Stosur surge.

Her biggest result may have been at Wimbledon, but her breakthrough came in Paris, when she stunned World No.1 Serena Williams in the second round en route to the quarterfinals. Her rivalry with Williams has been reserved for the game’s biggest stages, as all four of their matches have come at major tournaments; though the last two matches have gone the way of the American, Muguruza led by a set at last year’s Australian Open and played tough through two sets at the aforementioned All England Club encounter.

While Muguruza has soared, Serena has struggled, getting within five points of a loss to Yulia Putintseva in the quarterfinals and edging past an injured Kiki Bertens on Friday.

“I think that she and I are players who like dictating the game. We like dominating the game. I think I’m going to fight for each point. There will be moments when she’ll be dominating, and maybe at times I will be dominating.

“I think I can be a tough opponent, too.”

Garbine Muguruza

Muguruza has built a reputation for hot streaks throughout her surge up the rankings, yet her 2016 had been a season of subtle gains and steadily improving results, narrowly losing to Victoria Azarenka in Miami and Madison Keys in the semifinals of Rome.

Her coaching partnership with Sam Sumyk seems to have come into its own after a rocky start. Ahead of Saturday’s final, she could have few better in her corner than the former coach of Azarenka, who helped the Belarusian reach the No.1 ranking and earn back-to-back final wins against Serena in 2013.

“I have learned a lot how to control my emotions inside the court and outside the court. I think it’s very important, because sometimes it’s not too good to show them or to not be in control of them.”

The Spaniard has made no secret that the French Open is a tournament she grew up dreaming of winning, and at 22 years old, she just may be ready to make that dream come true.

“Here at Roland Garros, it’s special for Spanish people. I think for everyone, but Roland Garros in Spain is, like, everything. I don’t know. It’s like a second home here.”

-All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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Bouchard Burned By Dutch Customs

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Eugenie Bouchard got a cold welcome in The Netherlands, where she is set to play the Ricoh Open next week in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Maybe they were basking in the glow of having their first Roland Garros semifinalist since 1971 in Kiki Bertens. Maybe they were unaware the festivities in Paris are winding down, as the tournament enters its final stage. Or maybe, just maybe, the Dutch are incredibly adept at constructing the perfect burn.

Whatever the reason, this exchange between Bouchard and a Dutch border control agent escalated quickly:

Bouchard lost in the second round of the French Open last week to Timea Bacsinszky. The Dutch immigration officers must not follow Genie on Twitter. She’s been training and relaxing in London since leaving Paris.

The Ricoh Open begins on June 6th. Jelena Jankovic, CoCo Vandweghe, and Jelena Ostapenko are in the draw, along with Belinda Bencic, who is scheduled to make her return after a lower back injury.

A Wimbledon finalist in 2014, Bouchard is scheduled to play a full grass court schedule over the upcoming weeks. After the Ricoh Open she will head to the WTA’s new grass court event at the Mallorca Open, then to the Aegon International in Eastbourne, England before heading to Wimbledon.

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Serena Slides Into French Open Final

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Defending champion Serena Williams overcame a tight opening set to end Kiki Bertens’ fairytale run to get within one match of tying Steffi Graf’s 22 Grand Slam titles in Paris.

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