STAN WAWRINKA French Open 2020

“I’m a lucky person who’s had a great career already” Stan Wawrinka and other ATP/WTA stars looks back on 2020, a unique year of tennis


In tennis, as in every other walk of life, the coronavirus pandemic has caused major disruption to lives and careers. We asked a selection of players including Stan Wawrinka what had been the most difficult aspect of the year for them

Petra Kvitova
“For me I think the most difficult time was probably when I didn’t know what would be happening on the tour. I kept on practising, but it was really, really tough to get motivated by myself. I’m someone who loves to play matches and have the motivation to get better. When I didn’t really know what would happen I was so unmotivated to just play tennis. I just had to play for the sake of my body, for my health, and so that I didn’t forget everything, but I wasn’t really enjoying the tennis in that time. Every day I did some gym, but on the court I was really struggling. I only played two or three times a week.”

Stan Wawrinka
“Most of the lockdown I was in Switzerland to spend a lot of time with my daughter. I have to say honestly that I took the lockdown in the right way, the chance to be in Switzerland where we had the chance to still be able to go out, to be able to spend time with my daughter. I’m a lucky person. I have a good life. I’ve had a great career already. When you see what’s happening around the world, I really cannot complain about my situation.”

Elina Svitolina

“I was in Monte Carlo for a big chunk of time [during the tennis shutdown]. I was trying to stay busy. It was not easy, but at the same time I think everyone needed this kind of time to refresh. It was a little bit tough because when I won my tournament in Monterrey [in early March] I was just coming back, playing really good tennis, but then everything stopped. I would love to have played Indian Wells, when I was really feeling much better with my game. But at the same time I really treasured this time, the six months that we were off. We were enjoying just a normal life being away.”

CC Bellis

“I feel like I can’t really talk about not having enough matches when there’s a huge global pandemic, but for me personally the most difficult thing was just being stopped [from playing] just when I was starting again [after injury] and not getting matches during that time. But obviously that was not within my control and there have been a lot worse things going on.”

Aljaz Bedene
“At the beginning I was loving it. I hadn’t spent that long at home in Ljubljana for a while. For the first month and a half it was not possible to go out and practise, but then the government said that tennis and golf were allowed. I didn’t play immediately because I felt I needed some rest. That wasn’t because I didn’t want to go on the court, it was just that I found it very difficult not knowing what would be happening afterwards. If we knew, for example, that we would be back playing tournaments in six months then we would have been able to plan everything in advance. But not knowing when we were going to play again made going to practise very difficult.”

Barbora Strycova
“When we were in Australia [in January] I would never have guessed that in March we would stop playing tennis for at least half a year. [In the future] I will think how it was the toughest moment, not just for tennis players but also for other athletes and also for people who have been living their lives in this situation. It’s not easy. I want to get to 2021 already and forget 2020, but we have had the privilege to play tennis again, while some sports didn’t even restart. We have to be really proud and happy that we have people around us who have been able to organise tournaments.”

Johanna Konta
“In terms of tennis, I think the most difficult part for everyone was not being able to work, to do what you love to do, to do what you do on a daily basis. Personally I think it was very difficult to try and find the motivation every day when we were in full lockdown at home. I could only train in my living room and that definitely wasn’t a motivating environment.”

Victoria Azarenka
“To be honest I feel like I had a few recent years that were kind of difficult. So in a way, after a lot of uncertainty with the pandemic and me kind of finding my way to approach a different perspective, it’s been a breath of fresh air. I would say I was a lot more miserable a few years ago than I am now. I think the journey to get here has been tough. But right now I see that it was a great opportunity for me finally to look outside of my narrow thinking. So in a way it’s been better for me personally. Everywhere around it’s just been a disaster, so that gets me emotional a lot, but I hope this time we will [make] a lot of good changes for people and rise above it all.”

David Goffin
“For me the most difficult thing has been the motivation. You kind of feel worried all the time. Before every tournament you don’t know if there will be a wrong [Covid] test, whether you will be positive or negative. It’s the same for your staff. Every week it’s different rules. Every city is different.”

Venus Williams
“Being separated from people you love has probably been the challenging part. Obviously not being able to be on tour is also a challenge and not having the fans is also pretty rough.”

John Isner
“To be honest this year hasn’t been that difficult for me. Of course I would have definitely preferred if we had been able to go about business as usual, playing the same schedule over and over again. [The pandemic] took its toll on the whole world – and is still doing that. But for me, it hasn’t been difficult. I got to spend a lot of time at home. I’ve been healthy. My family’s been healthy. My immediate family, my wife and kids, my parents, brothers, in-laws, everybody has been healthy. For me, there’s absolutely no complaints. I’ve been very lucky throughout all this. Of course, there are hundreds of thousands of people who have been affected by this either directly or indirectly. Again, I consider myself very lucky.”

Svetlana Kuznetsova
“For me it’s always frustrating not to play matches. The year was looking great for me because I was feeling in good shape and I had a lot of confidence in my matches, which always means a lot for me. Then the virus happened and so I had to stay at home. In one way I was taking positive things from it. I was happy to be at home. When we started playing again I decided not to go to the States because it was very hard for me to bring my team together and prepare well. I played three tournaments [after the resumption], but it’s not a lot. I need to play a number of tournaments in a row to kind of get going.”

Ons Jabeur
“I was stuck for a while in the US and then I went back home. I had to quarantine for two weeks. I had the chance to practise maybe before some [players in other] countries. The thing is it helped me work more on my mental [game]. I had more time also to enjoy time with my family. I stayed at home. As tennis players, we don’t usually have that. For me it was good to maybe take a small rest and come back stronger, even more motivated to win matches.”

STAN WAWRINKA French Open 2020
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