Gloria cover story

Gloria cover story

Earlier this autumn Ana gave an interview to celebrated Serbian television journalism Mira Adanja-Polak, who has been dubbed the “Serbian Barbara Walters”.

The interview formed the basis of a recent cover story in popular weekly magazine Gloria. The following is a translation of the text that appeared in Gloria:

Tennis star Ana Ivanovic (25) came to Belgrade for a few days after participating for Serbia in the Fed Cup finals in Prague. It is understandable that she was hiding from the public eye. She came to visit mother Dragana, father Miroslav and her younger brother. Ana always feels secure and most comfortable in Belgrade.

We agreed to meet in Hyde Park, where nobody was present. I decided to do so because no matter where Ana shows up, there are many people around wanting to talk to her. This time I wanted her to talk to me, to tell me something she hadn’t said to anyone. I insisted on a conversation rather than on an e-mail Q&A session.

How many interviews have you given, can you remember?
Certainly many, I stopped counting a while ago. As the years passed, I became used to it, unlike the beginning when I found it difficult to talk to the press.

When you wake up, do you always know the city you are in?
Quite often I don’t. What I miss most is knowing that I wake up in my own apartment.

We know you on the court, but I am interested to know what happens before you go out to play a match?
I like to put on headphones and listen to the music while warming up. That way I don’t have to speak to anybody, I concentrate only on the following match. Before I step onto the court, I talk to my coach for a few minutes, to confirm the tactics we have prepared, as well as to give me some tips and boost my self-confidence. Then I again put on headphones and go to the locker room. Final preparation follows and then I go out on the court.

Do you notice your coach while you play?
Yes, I do. I like to have that kind of support from the stands, it is always nice to see a familiar face and a positive person. For that matter, I frequently look at him. I think everyone needs support. At any job, whatever you do, it is nice to have positive people and the support around you. I like honesty, I like when the coach tells me something I didn’t do well, because it is the only way I can improve. Earlier during my career I had coaches and people who told me what I wanted to hear. However, that is not objective. It is fine to hear that everything is okay and good, but when you do know it isn’t really like that, then you are in trouble.

Do you always know if you did something good or bad?
Deep inside, I always do. The most relevant thing is to give 100 per cent of yourself. I realized that a long time ago. It often happened that it didn’t turn out the way I wanted and then I burdened myself with it. As the time passed, I was able to accept the result as it was; the most vital thing was to always give my maximum.

When you win, everybody says, “magnificent, wonderful”, but when you lose it can even become cruel. How do you deal with it?
It happens often and it is hard for me. I want to win more than anyone, but it doesn’t always turn out the way people expect and the way you expect, in the end. I am conscious that there are ups and downs in every career, but people are very cruel after a defeat and that really hurts. It strikes me as I am very emotional. I don’t pay too much attention to it, but still it comes to you, you hear some comments and it hurts. Luckily, I learnt to put it aside and listen more to myself and people that are close to me – the ones who know what happens behind the scenes, and how much hard work, effort and everything was put into it.

Can you totally shield yourself from others’ reactions?
I am trying, I am really trying, but it is impossible as you always have press conferences after a match. Also, there are interviews where journalists ask all types of questions. Still, I sometimes get pretty surprised by the comments, but with time I am used to forgetting about this criticism.

What is a current goal that you had set?
I always set a goal for myself and discuss it with my coach a lot. I had a goal for some time that wasn’t realistic, I wanted something very fast, unreachable. And when you don’t reach it, you get disappointed. That is how I learnt to accept the situation as it is, to make the best thing out of it and set more realistic goals. The ones that would fulfill me, motivate me to work more and strive towards new goals. Currently, the biggest goal of mine is to return to the top 10 in the rankings. That is the first step. I know I will achieve it. Objectively, it is very close and so achievable. I feel good and want to give all I got to reach it. But, then again, if it doesn’t happen this year, I am sure it will happen next year.

You are still young…
People keep forgetting it. Many think that I am a veteran. “You have been here for years, you are almost finished”, they say. In fact, I am still young, I have got many years in front of me and many possibilities for success.

You are seen as one of the most attractive and most beautiful female athletes in the world. Are you aware of that?
It certainly flatters me. To be honest, I think that every woman likes compliments, but I don’t see myself that way at all. I see myself in a totally different light. I think that I owe credit to my family and friends for that… They have always kept me on the ground, they have never let me become haughty or change.

Is it possible to become haughty?
Easily. In the world we move within and in the situations, we meet up with many important people, it is very easy to lose a sense of reality. Since we travel a lot, we don’t spend much time at one place so that we can realize what everyday trouble and life is. That way you can easily lose a sense of the real world. Then again, I think that sportspeople and everyone in the public eye should remain normal. That’s what their magnitude lies in. However, it is very hard nowadays.

Life is not just about tennis, am I right? There is a private life.
I think that the time comes in everybody’s life when priorities change. I realized that tennis and a career are not everything. Tennis has given me so much really, and I am happy that I had a chance to go through everything I went through, but…

You had a serious relationship. How difficult was it to maintain it? What expectations do you have that have not been met?
My experience says that it isn’t hard to keep a relationship if there is the mutual wish and will. Especially if there is trust, and that’s what every relationship should be based on. It takes time to get to know someone, to earn each other’s trust and later on… Naturally, there are tough times and times apart, which is not easy at all, but if there is the will from both sides, it is easy to overcome.

Every girl has a vision of how a person that can win her heart will look like. How would your prince look? What’s in your imagination? How would a person you would be happy, calm and satisfied with look like?
I think that we’ve all seen too many movies and that we all have an idea of a perfect boyfriend or a husband, whatever. However, it is much harder in reality. At least my experience has taught me so. I think that I am young and that I still have the right to dream and hope to meet Mr. Perfect. But, the most important thing is to understand each other, that he is smart, interesting, versatile, that we can talk to each other a lot and, of course, that he supports what I do. It is necessary that I support him. And if he is tall and handsome, all the better!

Imagine being with someone who earned your trust and you tell him: “I am leaving for New York on Monday, I will be there by Wednesday, and then I travel to South America. I love you so much, but I won’t see you for two and a half months.” Do you think there is someone who could wait and understand?
That’s why I said that it is harder to have what you want in a real life. But, if there is trust, all of that can be overcome. Tennis is my profession that will last for a few years. It is not something that will last forever. I am aware that it is not easy. That’s why I don’t have anybody.

Can your coach connect with your personality, your emotions and everything that goes through your head when something is to be aimed for?
It is not an easy thing, since people must fully understand me as a person, and my mentality, in order to be able to help me. Good communication must exist by all means so that we can get to know each other better, as it is the only way to improve. I have had various coaches. I have worked with Nigel Sears for a year-and-a-half now. We get on excellently and it means a lot to me, because he understands me very well. Furthermore, he has got a daughter of my age, so he understands women a little. We are more emotional and accept things differently from men: we take everything closer to our hearst. Nigel knows I have „bugs“ (moods) from time to time, that I like to be alone occasionally or that he shouldn’t speak at times, let me play by instinct and the way I want to. We have found a good balance and we get along very well.

When I met you a few years ago, I didn’t get the impression that it is easy to get to know you. You have got the perfect facade, you are always smiling, you behave nicely, you are very polite, but there are fireworks inside. What you said – “bugs“. When you win, your joy is so contagious that the whole stadium celebrates, but when you lose, that suffering is transfered to the audience.
I really think that you described me perfectly. I am very shy and reserved in some situations, and when I really get to know someone, I can open up. And slowly, gradually. Naturally, there are many emotions within me – my parents and the closest ones know that. They know I can get angry, upset, explode both positively and negatively. All of it smolders in me, and expresses during matches. I like to compete and win, but generally I am very reserved. I was extremely reserved at the beginning of my career. I had my own world, I preferred to sit in the corner and read rather than going out, to be in the spotlight. It has never interested me.

We have seen you on the red carpet, you were shining. How did it look to you?
Once a year, during Wimbledon tournament, we have a red carpet event in London. That is a unique opportunity for us, female players, to dress up. We get our makeup and hair styling done. It is really a nice feeling getting smartened and being on high heels, having a nice dress, such as last year, which was created by the famous designer Matthew Williamson especially for me. It is a great honour, that such a renowned designer made the dress for me. I was thrilled, but when the time for walking on the red carpet came, it wasn’t simple for me. Especially in high heels, since I don’t have good balance in them. It is a nice feeling, but I wouldn’t like that every day. You don’t know where to look and how to set yourself – you follow the ones in front of you and copy a bit. I walk on the flat ground easier than on the red carpet in high heels. Especially beaucse we are not taught, or used to posing. Models and actresses know how to do that, but I don’t feel natural while posing. I am quite shy, it is pretty hard for me to relax.

When are you the most relaxed?
At home, in Belgrade, with a book and my family, when I can be in a tracksuit and a loose shirt.