Nine years after her junior title at Wimbledon, Caroline Wozniacki is a grown woman and exactly where she dreamed she would be in her career.
It’s stifling hot on the Wimbledon practice court. Caroline Wozniacki has just spent an hour on Court 15 where she won’t be playing a match.
Father Piotr gathers up the balls while brother Patrick and mother Anna, who have been intensely following the session, remain seated on the bench by the practice court where the world number five has just practised ground strokes and volleys.
Caroline Wozniacki sits down and sniffs, but she’s not sad. Quite the contrary.
The feeling is the same every time
She’s happy, but she’s suffering from hay fever like 2/3 of the Danish population. The grass courts of Wimbledon can be a tease, but Caroline Wozniacki is happy to be here. She’s returned every year since she won the girl’s title in 2006. She’s now playing for the 2015 title as a grown woman among the world’s elite.
“I played here as a girl with the dream of being where I am now,” is the then and now analysis.
But the feeling of being in London and playing Wimbledon hasn’t changed.
“It’s the same every year, both as a girl and as an adult. I get butterflies when I’m here. It’s a special feeling. It’s great! That feeling is why I’ve trained so hard all my life. This is where I want to be,” says Caroline Wozniacki.
She’s more laid back in her private life than on the court
Her tennis game has changed in the same way she’s developed as a person. Tennis legend Billy Jean King has said that her great success in the 1960s as a player at Wimbledon was the result of her personality and playing style fitting the era she played tennis in.
Caroline Wozniacki agrees with that remark and thinks that you can’t change your personality in the hunt for the game you want to play:
“As a young player, you try and find your game, try to figure out what you’re good at, what your base is, what you can improve, and exactly what it is you win matches with. You can’t just change a player’s game because you think that’s what it takes to win. You need to find out exactly what type of player you are. How I am both as a player and as a person,” says the Danish tennis star.
Caroline Wozniacki is very conscious of who she is, both as a player and as a person.
For example, John McEnroe was a player known for his fiery temper both on and off the court. But Caroline doesn’t think she’s the same person at home as she is on the court.
“I think I’m completely different. I’m more aggressive on the court than I am at home. It’s not my natural instinct for me to go on to the court and just flail away at every ball, but being on the court brings out my fighting instinct. I get irritated and I get going. I love the big stage with lots of spectators. I’m hard on myself and I’m a perfectionist when I’m on the grass at Wimbledon—and every other court. At home, I’m more laid back and calm.”
She feels like an American at the US Open
Caroline Wozniacki opens up for the situations she finds herself in off the court, but, at the same time, she’s very conscious of adapting when necessary.
“I really think it suits my game and my playing style actually,” she adds.
Wimbledon is something very special to Caroline Wozniacki, as it is to all other players. Some tournaments are—as she herself admits—played on experience. But both Wimbledon and the US Open have always, since she was a girl, been something very special for the Danish top player.
But when the talk is about whether Wimbledon is the biggest, the feeling is that the US Open is really THE tournament Caroline Wozniacki would most like to win:
“Wimbledon and the US Open are both fantastic tournaments. They’re very different, but I love the US Open. That’s where I’ve been closest to Slam win. The support last year made me feel almost like a local American. It was wild. The tournament has a good vibe. It just suits me.”
Hey mum — I’m over here
Piotr Wozniacki has his coaching eyes on his daughter while the rest of the family watch Caroline closely. The whole family is here for one thing: to follow the wonder child.
“At home it’s my brother, Patrick, who usually gets all the attention. He’s the favourite child—so I get a bit of attention here,” says Caroline Wozniacki and smiles.
“My mother is always telling everyone how it’s going with Patrick. Hey, mum— I’m right here, me too,” she continues with a gleam in her eye and finishes:
“We have a good balance at home.”
The Wimbledon girls’ champion from 2006 has grown up.
Caroline Wozniacki continues to live out her childhood dream. Wimbledon’s grass is at her feet.
Translated by MAN