How Vondrousova’s relaxed approach paid off at Wimbledon

With its history and romantic obsession with tradition, Wimbledon holds a special place in the hearts and minds of tennis players. This is the Slam you win if you want to be a sports legend, a national icon, a conversation starter.

Marketa Vondrousova never wanted to be any of these things. Who else would casually rock up to her Wimbledon Champion photocall in high-waisted denim, sneakers and a hot pink button-up shirt?

Vondrousova beats Jabeur to win first Slam title at Wimbledon

So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Vondrousova never dreamed of winning Wimbledon. Or maybe she did it in the most traditional sense. The idea was simply not based on reality.

“I think for me it was the most impossible because I grew up on clay,” Vondrousova told WTA Insider after beating Ons Jabeur in the Wimbledon final. “I play well on hard courts.

“But the grass was very strange to me and a very hard surface to play on. I played semis in juniors, but that was it. I played a few matches here in previous years and that was it. When we came here, I thought, ‘OK, I’ll try to win a few games and just try’.

“I mean, this is great.”

Why Vondrousova’s win could be a glimpse into the future

Great is selling it short. Prior to this year, Vondrousova had played Wimbledon four times, winning a total of one match. She was considered a stalwart on clay, as evidenced by her first major run to a final at the 2019 Roland Garros. She is also a threat on hard courts. Two years ago, she came within one set of winning Olympic gold in Tokyo.

But something clicked for her at SW19. She beat five seeded players to win the title, the first to do so at Wimbledon since her compatriot Petra Kvitova more than a decade ago. After playing a nervous final at Roland Garros four years ago, she was steely and unflappable against Jabeur, winning in straight sets. When all was said and done, she was fine. And that was the goal from the start.

Vondrousova spoke to WTA Insider to break down her surprising run to the Wimbledon title.

WTA Insider: When did grass court tennis start to click for you?

Vondrousova: So we practiced on a grass pitch near Prague, but it’s very different. It’s not the same, but I feel like it really helped the movement.

Then in Berlin I played a couple of good games and I thought, ‘OK, maybe it won’t be so bad.’

Here, when I saw the draw, it is not easy. Kudermetova and Vekic played great on grass, they were great players. So I was like, “OK, just give it a shot, you know?”

WTA Insider: What were the main adjustments you made on grass this year?

Vondrousova: You just have to be OK with the serving. It is very important. It’s a very mental game and you have to persevere. So returning, it’s not that easy.

I feel that the most important thing was my movement because I move very well on clay and I can slide on the hard courts, but I felt that on grass I am so slow. I don’t know, it just changed so much in this tournament. So I felt like I could just put the ball back one more time.

WTA Insider: What does winning a Grand Slam title change for you?

Vondrousova: I feel that if you have the Grand Slam, no one can take it away from you. You are a little calmer than you are. But I feel like everyone wants more.

I want to be the target now. I want to be Top 10 so I feel like everyone wants to see you. I think the girls will beat you, so it’s having a target on your back. But I think it’s a good thing to have.

WTA Insider: You talked a lot with Karolina Muchova throughout her run at Roland Garros. did it help you at all?

Vondrousova: We spoke before Roland Garros and she said ‘Clay, it’s going to be so bad’ like me before the grass season. It is so funny.

She made it to the finals and she was so close too. She double faulted on match point and I really cried so much. It was so sad. We saw each other in Prague, we talked a bit and we practiced here.

‘A huge moment for Czech tennis’: Players celebrate Vondrousova’s Wimbledon win

WTA Insider: Did talking to her about your experiences from your first Slam final at Roland Garros help you?

Vondrousova: The first final I was really a young girl so it was just too much for me. I think Ash [Barty] played without nerves and she just crushed me. I didn’t even enjoy the moment. Finals when I was 19? It’s a great thing. But I was so sad.

I cried so badly and I thought to myself that if this happens again, I will enjoy the moment. Even if I had lost, I still wanted to celebrate because it’s a huge thing. I spoke to Karolina before the final, I told her just enjoy it. It’s such a big thing. I felt she did. So that’s a great thing.

WTA Insider: So what do the party plans look like for you?

Vondrousova: I feel like we’ll see tonight. We have a house here so I think we’ll go down there and have some beers.

WTA Insider: You got so many sweet messages of congratulations and support from other players.

Vondrousova: It’s so nice to see. I feel like in tennis, it is very difficult to have relationships with other players. This support, it means so much, just to see that people care. So many people wished me luck before the match.]

I know Ons is very popular and she is a great player and such a great person. I got a little sad when I saw her crying out there. But I feel she has many more to come.

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