The 360 Interview: Vera Zvonareva


PERSON

At home…

I live right outside of Moscow, not in the center of the city. I live in an apartment. My apartment is on the last floor and it’s a two-story apartment with a nice view. It’s a nice area with a little bit of forest. I enjoy it. My mom was staying with me for a while because she was doing construction at her place.

Being recognized…

When I’m in tournaments and play Fed Cup matches, of course lots of people come and ask for your autographs. But we have so many athletes in Russia. Moscow is a huge city and everyone is busy. It’s not like when you walk around people recognize you. It’s happened a few times when people recognize me and ask for an autograph.

Being a student…

My first degree I got is in physical education. I graduated last summer from Russian State University of Physical Education in Moscow. I wanted to get a second education so I now go to the Diplomatic Academy, which is the university at the [Russian] Ministry for Foreign Affairs. I’m studying world economy. I really enjoy studying and I like the school. I had been going to school everyday when I was injured [last year] and I got interested in economics and political and international affairs. It’s fun to do. I’m just enjoying it right now and trying to learn as much as I can. When I go to classes, it’s usually three hours a day, three times a week. On Saturday, it’s five hours. Classes that you have to take are statistics, international affairs, economic integration, lots of different things. I have to take all those classes. It’s my first year. It’ll take me three years to graduate.

PLAYER

On the tour…

It’s not an easy job but there are much harder jobs in the world. We try to enjoy it as much as possible. I like to travel and see different places in the world, meet different people, see different cultures. I don’t mind it, but I’m not a fan of flying. I don’t like the planes and going through airports. I wish when I traveled I could just fall asleep and wake up in the other country.

Never leave home without…

For sure, my cell phone. I think that’s the same for everyone. I always bring my laptop, and I’ll bring a few books from school. And I always bring the racquets and shoes. I prefer to carry my racquets on the plane. Sometimes the airlines have policies where they won’t allow you to take them on the plane. I prefer to have them with me. You never know what’s going to happen in baggage. I’ve had my luggage lost a couple times, but so far I’ve been pretty lucky.

Favorite cities…

I always like to go back home to Moscow. It’s a great city. Other than that, I would say I like to go to new places, the places I’ve never been to. But it really depends on my mood. Sometimes I want some place nice and quiet, like Switzerland. Or sometimes I want something more like New York. It just depends on my mood. But if I stay for a week in one place, I feel like, "It’s time to go."

Pre-match rituals…

I’m always walking on court with my iPod. I have it on shuffle. That’s pretty much it.

Game…

I would say I’m an all-around-the-court player. Mostly you’ll see me playing on the baseline. I can be aggressive but I can also play defense. I adjust to every opponent I have to play. I think I’m universal, but you’ll see me play more from the baseline.

Gear…

I use the Prince O3 White. I’ve been using it for two years. I really like it. Compared to the Fischer racquet I used to have, it’s more powerful but it still has control. It’s not heavy so it’s easier on my arm. I wear Under Armour but I think I’m going to be wearing K-Swiss [her shoes are K-Swiss]. Maybe at the French Open I’ll be wearing K-Swiss. They sent me some products to try and if it’s OK with me, we’ll see.

Court Presence…

I think I’m a totally different player right now. I’m more experienced and more mature. I’ve definitely changed over the years—everyone does. I have more experience now. I don’t know. When I’m on the court I’m fighting. I can be emotional, I can be happy, I can be upset. But I’d described myself as no matter what, I’m trying and I’m fighting. Keeping emotions in check…

Experience, being more mature. You can’t play perfect tennis probably every tennis player plays their best tennis only a few times a year. You can count it on your fingers. The rest of the days, you won’t be perfect. But you still have to be out there fighting and trying to find a way to win. That’s what comes with experience. I’m more mature so I don’t expect myself to play good every day. I just want to do everything I can to win that match on that particular day. That’s all I worry about. With the injury I took some time off. I don’t want to put any pressure on me. I just want to enjoy myself. I don’t want to put pressure or be too upset if I couldn’t do something that day that I wanted. That’s fine. It helped me to realize that throughout my career, we’re all perfectionists. I realize that we’re just human beings and that we make mistakes. You just have to try to improve it.

Goals…

I don’t really set goals for myself. When I was a younger and an upcoming player, I set goals. But if you do that, you’re going to be too hard on yourself. Now what I want to do is give it my all in every match I play. Every match I play I want to fight 100 percent. I want to try to win every match I play, but I’m going to try to enjoy it. If I don’t win that day, well, then that happens. I’m going to have another match. So I’m just trying to go step by step. I don’t really set any goals. Of course, I want to win every tournament and Grand Slam, like any other tennis player. I don’t want to put pressure on myself.

On her comeback after a wrist injury…

I’m not really thinking about it. I just really thinking about being able to play in four finals already this year and won a tournament [she beat Victoria Azarenka in straight sets to win the ECM Prague Open in May]. I’m just really happy about it. It means that whatever I’m working on, it’s working.

CREW

Coach…

His name is Sam Sumyk. He’s from France. I’ve been working with him for two-and- half years now. He’s Meilen Tu’s coach and he used to help Elena Likhovtseva. That’s how I met him. I used to play doubles with Elena. Sam and I been working together for three and half years. I like him because he was the one who believed in me when I was injured and lots of people didn’t expect me to come back. He was the one who was always around and helping me a lot. That was important for me.

Family…

No brothers or sisters. I’m the only one. My grandmother always took care of me while my mom worked. I was just like any other child going to school every day, doing what kids do. Most tennis players stop school pretty early, or they do school at home. I had to go to school everyday. I had to be in classes. My mom was working at a rehab center, working with handicap people, people with back injuries who were paralyzed. She had to work so I spent lots of time with my grandmother. I still have my school friends. I don’t get the chance to see them too often because I’m traveling so much but my best friend is from the same class.

Personal life…

As tennis players, we discuss everything about us and personal life is something we like to keep to ourselves. I’m sure any girl my age will have a private life. We’ll have friends, we’ll enjoy hanging out. I’m enjoying meeting my friends. The private life [of a tennis player] will be different from other people because we travel so much. We spend time on the phone and text messaging. But otherwise, we’re like any other young people. But I’m not getting married in the future any time soon.

 

tennis.com, August, 2008

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