Angelique Kerber: Serving The Aces
When Angelique Kerber clinched her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, she found herself considering a wildly thrilling and very real possibility – that this could be the year she unseated Serena Williams as the world number 1.
“I have always maintained a step-by-step approach to my career and it was not until after the Australian Open that I felt for the first time that I could achieve it,” she told woman with drive in an exclusive interview.
Eight months after her Australian Open victory, one month after winning an Olympic silver and less than a week before triumphing in the US Open, Angelique did exactly that. And in doing so, she became the first German to top the rankings since her hero, Steffi Graf, in 1997.
“As a kid, I dreamed of becoming the number 1 and of winning Grand Slams. It has all come true. I am the number one. It is incredible.”
The Porsche Brand Ambassador goes into WTA Finals in Singapore that kicks off on 23 October. woman with drive caught up with her before that to talk about overcoming mental blocks, her wish for women in tennis and her message for rising tennis stars who share her dream.
You began playing tennis at age three and turned pro at age 13. What do you remember most about that decade?
As far as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a professional tennis player. Even when I was much younger, tennis has always been a major part of my life. Since I grew up in the winning-era of Steffi Graf, it did not take long until I became a big fan of hers. It has always impressed me the way she handles herself on and off the court, and I consider her a huge inspiration for my tennis career.
Was there a particularly difficult mental block you had to break through in your career? Could you tell us what was going on and how you got through it?
That is difficult to answer, but there have been many important steps and valuable lessons in my career. Over the years and with experience, I learnt to set priorities and focus on my goals without getting distracted by little things as much. It is a working progress and I am still learning new things every day by making small adjustments.
What do you think tennis fans sometimes forget when they watch a match?
I have probably been a tennis player for too long to be the expert on that. But I guess it is hard to imagine how big the pressure is for the top players on a weekly basis.
What is your favourite German inspirational quote?
“Schau nicht zurück, sondern nach vorne und genieße jeden Moment.“ It means, “Never look back, always look forward and enjoy every moment.” It may not be a quote from a specific person, but it pretty much sums up my philosophy.
The tennis tip that completely changed your game.
There are many things that have changed my game in the last years but it was probably not until I understood how important the fitness aspect is to my game that I really started improving.
Are there any changes you would like to see for women in tennis?
First I would love to see more women play tennis. There is no limitation. You can start at the age of six or 60, play with friends, family or participate in tournaments. There is such a broad variety and it is all fine, as long as you have fun.
How do you unwind and recharge, and how often do you do this?
Throughout the year, there is very little time to recharge my batteries but I learnt to relax even with little time at my hands. Whenever I can, I try to spend as much time as possible at home with my friends and family. There is no better way to unwind.
All around the world there are young, still unknown tennis players following your ascent and vowing to one day be “the next Angelique Kerber”. What would you like to say to them?
The best advice that I can probably give is to believe in your own abilities and work hard for your dreams. You have to be able to accept failure, learn from your mistakes and move on. Do not be afraid to fail and stay true to yourself wherever your journey may lead you.
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