Jule Niemeier

May 19, 2022

“I’m not scared of not being successful, but there will always be ups and downs in a career and you have to be mentally prepared for that.  At the age of 15, I made the decision to move somewhere else to have the chance to become a professional tennis player. That was definitely the most difficult and painful decision I had to make because I loved to be at home with my family and friends. Before I moved away from my family I was homesick and didn’t enjoy traveling which made it even tougher for me to take the step.  Fortunately,  it was the right decision and was crucial to develop and grow as a person because I had to overcome some tough years with a lot of injuries and physical problems.  Last year changed my perspective. I started playing my first WTA events and did well, I played semis in the WTA 250s in Strasbourg and Hamburg and almost qualified in Wimbledon in my first GS appearance. I think my game style differentiates myself from others because I’m playing more like a men. I feel comfortable at the net, I’m using the slice and I’m trying to be creative (more…)

Demi Schuurs

March 17, 2022

“When I’m asked what differentiates me from other tennis players, I don’t think I even have to explain. If you know who I am or if you’ve seen me on the court, it’s obvious. I am myself and I don’t care what other people think about me. I have short hair, and I wear men’s clothes most of the time. I know that you don’t see it that often on the tour, but I’m happy with who I am.  Because I’ve been playing for 25 years now, more or less, there’ve been so many life-changing moments in my tennis career — it’s hard to pinpoint just one moment. A career is a process and so many things happen over that span of time. I do have to say, though, it was a nice feeling once I started to earn more money from playing, so I was not dependent on other people any more. That was a great feeling to be financially independent, so of course that changed my life.  There is always pressure in life for everyone, no matter your career. You always work hard to achieve your goals, so if you get close to reaching these, then you feel (more…)

Panna Udvardy

January 27, 2022

“There is always a little bit of fear of not succeeding and disappointing the people around me, but the feeling of wanting to achieve my goals is a lot stronger than this fear.  Tennis really changed my life when my family and I moved to Australia. We lived in Sydney for a year, where I played tennis and trained at the Sydney Olympic Park. I got into the best Australian team and I was training with the best juniors. Seeing how other people train and what professionalism is at a young age really opened my eyes and I decided I wanted to be a professional player. I went home and decided I want to start practicing every day. My coach was living 1.5 hours from my hometown so I had to travel by train every day to get to practice, but I was so motivated I just wanted to do whatever I could to achieve my dream. All the way throughout juniors, my parents were helping me with my tennis — everything went through them and was very comfortable. When I turned 19 I decided I needed to take more control over my career and be independent, so I started (more…)

Kaja Juvan

December 9, 2021

“When I was growing up, there were so many people that told me ‘You can’t do that.’ Especially in Slovenia because it’s such a small country. Sometimes it’s this mentality of, ‘No, don’t try something so that you’re not going to fail.’ I just thought to myself, ‘You know what? I’m going to prove to everyone that I can do it.’ I went through juniors pretty fast. When I was 16, I won the Orange Bowl, and then I decided that I’m going to start playing pro. I went to the pro circuit, and I had a year where I was struggling. I wanted to finish high school in a good way. Basically, I was studying for every exam like normal students during tournaments, and it was pretty tiring. I was always pushing myself to do really well in school because I like studying, and I think education is really important for me. At one point, I remember playing at a tournament. It was a 25K, and I was thinking about history or something. After I lost that match, I decided ‘You know what? I’m going to change schools.’ I still wanted to get a good education, but I decided (more…)

Aleksander Barkov

December 2, 2021

#CelebrityBTR– “I’m from Southern Finland and my parents are Russian. My dad moved from Russia to Finland before I was born. I’m the only Finnish guy in our family. My older brother started playing tennis at a young age so I got into tennis too. As a family, we love the sport and always follow Grand Slams. I live in Florida so I go to the Delray Beach Open and Miami Open. It is so much fun to be in the stands. Back in Finland, we had a challenger event in my hometown every summer. It was unreal. I was a ball boy at the tournament for six years. I was a ball boy for my brother’s match once. He played challengers for years but it was tough for him to become a good player and live in Finland. Finland is more into hockey than tennis. I started playing tennis at the same time I started hockey. I was four years old and played both sports as hobbies. At 13, I started having more hockey practices. Hockey was the number one sport in our family because my dad played professionally. But if I had not chosen hockey, I would have (more…)

Mylene Martin

November 21, 2021

#MyBTR– “Tennis has been in my family forever, so it was only natural that I asked to try when I was 2 years old. Over 30 years later, I still haven’t put the racquet down. Whatever happened in my life, tennis was there. Even on the hardest day of my life, tennis gave me relief.  I had to make the most difficult decision of my life to get out of a very tough marriage I had been in for over 5 years. The day I left, I played tennis, the only way I could stay clear and have the courage to do what had to be done to start the next chapter of my life. My life was about to change forever, and I had no idea where I was going to live, but I knew it was the right decision, even though it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.  The next day, I had a USTA league match scheduled, and once I told my parents what happened, they asked me if I was going to play. My answer: “Never thought of not playing.” Even though things were so chaotic and uncertain, once I was on the court, nothing (more…)

Sara Errani

November 11, 2021

“Sometimes I think, “Why am I still doing this? It’s really tough, maybe I should stop.” I’m not 20 years old anymore, but not many times I’ve thought about that. I was more like “I want to go through this thing. I think the only way is pass through tough moments, face them, not run away from them.” I had a very tough period of time last year where I couldn’t really enjoy playing because it was like playing’ with a ghost in my mind that was tough to manage. It was not easy. I fought a lot and I thought I could pass it — I’m here for that. I’m here because I really love tennis. I love playing and I want to have a good sensation playing on the court. [The drug tests] were really dark because I got through many things that were unbelievable, almost impossible to describe. They gave me two months the first time. Even there, it was incredible because I knew I didn’t do nothing. After that, I started again from 208 in the world. In a few months, I already went again in the top 100. My own country was against me. The (more…)

Mikhail Kukushkin

October 24, 2021

“I started to play tennis at the age of six. My father was a tennis coach. He brought me on the court when I was young, and he coached me until I was 17 years old.  My family didn’t have a lot of money, so I didn’t have a lot of opportunities because I was in a small-town, nothing else to look for — I was always playing tennis. I had just one dream to be a good tennis player. Until I was 17, I was not sure if I was able to go all the way. I was not sure of myself because I didn’t have enough support. Then of course, when I reached the top 200 in the world, I understood that I could be a good player. When I started to travel to the futures and challengers, I couldn’t take my father as a coach. I was always traveling with no coach and struggling financially. It was a lot of pressure on myself because I knew I had to play well, otherwise all the sacrifices that my parents made throughout my career when I was young, it was for nothing. I had some pressure. Of course, I (more…)

Leander Paes

October 17, 2021

“I grew up in a family where my father won a medal in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, and he played field hockey. My mother on the other hand, all 5’1″ of her, captain of the Indian basketball team. Every Sunday, I used to wake up in the morning after church and polish my dad’s Olympic medal. It’s not rocket science that I wanted to play for India and represent 1.3 billion Indians to prove that we could be Olympic champions in an individual sport. My whole journey was about patriotism. It has been about playing for my people and it has been about inspiring 1 billion-plus people that we can be world champions on the global stage.  I realized that tennis was my vehicle and that if I wanted to get to the Olympics, I really had to persevere. I put my head down. I worked really hard for three years and in the summer of 1990, I won Junior Wimbledon. In February of 1990, I met another young Indian kid. I said to him, “Would you like to win Wimbledon?” He laughed at me and he said, “You’re crazy.” I said, “I know I’m crazy, but would you (more…)

Ankita Raina

October 7, 2021

“My mom has always been a sports enthusiast. I think that’s where I kind of started. I have an older brother who’s four years older than me, so he first got into the sport. We had a tennis academy right behind our house — we could literally see it from our window. Once I turned four, I was introduced I was in the top five rank in India. When I was under 16, I was selected in the Junior Fed Cup team. I think that was one of the moments where it was like it’s a dream for anyone to represent your country or play for your country. I think that’s rare. My mother’s support and my brother’s support, family support was really important.  I feel I’m very patriotic. Whenever I play Fed Cup, whenever I’m representing the country, I’ve always seen that my best results have come. Normally, you are representing your country, but it’s still individual. Every time, I always look forward to Fed Cup weeks because life on the road is very lonely. When you’re playing these team events, you have the whole team, you have other players and all the support. I don’t know. I see (more…)