- On Court
- About Ana
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Ana was recently interviewed by Prestup magazine in Serbia. Here is a translation:
What were your first tennis experiences?
The first tournaments I took part in were held in Belgrade, so it was a national level. I remember the first tournament I ever played in; I was in quarter-finals against the No.1 ranked girl and I beat her. At that time I didn’t know what a ranking list was, so I asked my dad to explain it.
What else do you remember?
I remember that I played a national final at Under 14 level when I was nearly 12. I played against elder girls. It was a big success for me.
How do remember Belgrade when you were younger and not popular as you are nowadays?
Belgrade is the city where I grew up. I will always gladly go back there to visit. Maybe I will live there in the future, you never know. It is a special city for me and I love spending time there, to take a walk along the Kej [a promenade by Usce Park] or Kalemegdan [Old City Fortress]. I remember, when I was little, my grandparents always took me to the zoo. Those are some things I’ll never forget, and that will always connect me to Belgrade.
You met Monica Seles, your role-model, recently. How did that go?
I first met her at a tournament in Toronto. It was a brief meeting, as she was in a rush for an interview she was doing. I was literally left speechless. I didn’t know what to say, nor what to ask, because she was a big star for me that time and she’s the reason I started playing tennis. I had the chance for a longer chat with her at US Open this year. She is a really great person. I had the right role model, no doubt about it.
What is the turning point in your career, in your opinion?
In everyone’s career there are a few moments that you can say represent turning points. I have had a couple of situations that I think of as turning points. The first was when I won two ITF $50,000 tournaments in a row in Japan. I won 16 matches in 14 days, which was a big incentive for me. A second important point for me was the tournament in Zurich in 2004, when I played against Venus for the first time, in the second round. Certainly Roland Garros this year was another turning point
Which tennis player have you been most afraid of?
It is hard to say I was afraid of anybody. It is not important who is across the net from you, rather you should play against the ball and try to play the best you can. There are a few players whom it is very difficult to play against, such as the Williams sisters. They have a totally different game from everyone else; they play aggressively.
What is your biggest challenge?
I want to reach No.1. It is a great goal that I have wanted for long time. I am aware that every further step is harder and harder to take. I need more experience against the top players to make that step.
When did you feel your real career started?
In Zurich I played my first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour tournament, so it was a huge turning point in my career. Let’s say it is the point I am in professional tennis. Although I played against top players before, I may say that since May of this year, when I improved rapidly, I really feel I belong to this circle.
What victories were the most important to you?
The Montreal final against Hingis and semi-finals of Roland Garros against Sharapova – those are matches that I will always remember.
What do you think of Serbia as a tennis force?
I think it is an unbelievable success. We are all young with so many years ahead of us, but around the world Serbian tennis is constantly spoken about, and how we all of a sudden we are at the very top. It is a great honour for me playing for our national team. Whenever I go to Belgrade, I am surprised how many people follow us and how tennis has became such a popular sport!
When you come to Belgrade, where do you like to go out?
While I’m away, I really miss my family, cousins and friends, so I don’t go out that much. I like to spend time with friends or cousins at our homes, or maybe in some quieter café, where we can sit and talk. I don’t really like to go to nightclubs.
What about when you are abroad?
There aren’t many people to go out with at tournaments. Sometimes I go out with some players for dinner or a drink. But it’s rare, because when I am playing in a tournament, my focus is on practice. But in my spare time, I like to go out to see what’s popular in other countries.
Photographers think of you as one of the most beautiful tennis players. You have been photographed for many magazines and worked with numerous photographers. Where is the limit when it comes to photoshoots?
I love taking part in photoshoots. It is interesting for me and every photoshoot is a new experience. The people that I work with at photoshoots are professionals, and that’s how I can find my own style. For instance, when they give me something to wear and apply my make-up, I can discover something new that fits me and that I like. It is important that I feel comfortable in what I am being photographed in: I don’t choose something that is too sexy or open. It’s nice to unveil another side of me, different from the one when I am on the court. I enjoy it, though I am conscious it is only happening because of tennis and the success I achieved on the court. I would never swap a practice over a photo session.
What are your superstitions before a match?
I like to spend time alone in the locker room while listening to music, either pop, R&B or Serbian, depending on the mood. I have a ritual connected to setting up my hair and putting on my visor/cap. Each time the hairpins have to be in the same place, and I try to use the same mirror!
What is the biggest tennis challenge for you in the future?
My biggest dream is to win a Grand Slam. And I think it is not impossible. I reached the Roland Garros final and in the future, when I’m in the same situation, I will hopefully manage to deal with it better. Moreover, I am certain I can see myself with this dream coming true.
You are 19 years old and have great glory. How do you see yourself when you are no longer playing tennis?
I love children so much and I would love to have a family. I imagine being in a warm place, near the sea, as I love the beach and sun.
Do you drive? What’s your cooperation with Verano Motors?
I have great cooperation with Verano. It is not a typical sponsor-player relationship. I love driving their cars and I use that opportunity whenever I am in Belgrade.
Photo: Unicef Serbia/Zoran Jovanovic Maccak