Great Sportswomen – Ana Ivanovic

On September 8, 2007, Ana Ivanović became a UNICEF National Ambassador for Serbia, alongside Aleksandar Đorđević, Jelena Janković and Emir Kusturica.

She takes a special interest in the fields of education and child protection. Ivanović visited a primary school in Serbia during her inauguration and said that she is “also looking forward to going into the classroom and meeting many kids.”

Ivanović confirmed in November 2008 that she was romantically involved with Spanish tennis player Fernando Verdasco, but it was reported that the relationship ended in January 2009. Ivanović was then in a relationship with Australian golf player Adam Scott but their relationship apparently ended in August 2010. Some of her best friends include close childhood family friend Novak Djokovic, whom she has known since the age of 5, and current ATP World No. 1 Rafael Nadal.

Ana picked up a racket at the age of five after watching Monica Seles, a fellow Yugoslavian, on television during the 1992 French Open. She started her career after memorizing the number of a local tennis clinic from an advertisement. During her training she survived the NATO bombings in 1999. At the time, she was forced to train during the morning to avoid bombardments. Later, she admitted that she trained in an abandoned swimming pool in the winter, as there were no other facilities.

When she was 15, Ivanović spent four hours in the locker room crying after a defeat —the first that her new manager had watched. She thought that Dan Holzmann, the manager in question, was going to drop her because she felt that she was not good enough to become a professional tennis player. He has stayed her manager to this day.

Ivanović started the year at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia with fellow Serbian Novak Djoković, where the pair narrowly missed the final. To start off her WTA year she played at the Medibank International in Sydney where she once again defeated Amélie Mauresmo, this time in straight sets, before falling to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals. A week later, she lost to Samantha Stosur in the second round of the Australian Open.Seeded 13th at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Ivanović defeated Polish player Agnieszk Radwańska in the second round but lost in the third round to Vera Zvonareva. Immediately after this tournament, she announced that she had split with her coach David Taylor.Ivanović had a six-match winning streak heading into the French Open and increased this streak to twelve by reaching the final. She won her first three matches with the loss of only nine games. In her second career quarterfinal at Roland Garros, Ivanović defeated World No. 3 Kuznetsova, and she then beat World No. 2 Sharapova in the semifinals.

In the final, Ivanović attempted to win her first Grand Slam singles title and complete a sweep of the top three players in the world. However, World No. 1 and two-time defending champion Justine Henin won the match. Later on, Ivanović admitted that the idea of being in the final of a Grand Slam tournament had overwhelmed herIvanović started the year at the 2010 Brisbane International. Seeded 3rd, Ivanović reached her first semifinal since Indian Wells in 2009. She eventually bowed out to wild card Justine Henin in Henin’s first tournament since her return from retirement. Ivanović was seeded 20th at the 2010 Australian Open, but lost to Gisela Dulko in the second round in three sets.Ivanović then participated in the opening round of the 2010 Fed Cup in Serbia’s tie seeagainst Russia. She went 0–2 in her singles matches, losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova and Alisa Kleybanoa, both in straight sets. She partnered with Jelena Janković in the deciding doubles match, but they fell to Kuznetsova and Kleybanova. Ivanović then withdrew from Dubai with shoulder tendonitis.

Ana announced that she would be working with Steffi Graf’s former coach Heinz Gunthardt on a trial basis during the spring North American hard court season, suspending her relationship with the Adidas Player Development Program indefinitely. In her first match as Gunthardt’s pupil, a one-set semi-final against reigning US Open champion Kim Clijsters in the 2010 Billie Jean King Cup at Madison Square Garden, Ivanović lost in a tie-break despite having held match point. After the match Ivanović stated that she had noted improvements in her game.Unseeded at the 2010 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Ivanović had her best week of tennis in nearly two years. She stunned top 10 players Victoria Azarenka and Elena Dementieva, and top 20 player Nadia Petrova, all in straight sets, before losing to eventual champion María José Martínez Sánchez in the semifinals.

She was granted a wild card into the Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open in Madrid, and received a bye in the first round due to her semifinal appearance at the Italian Open. She was the first unseeded wildcard to receive a first round bye in the history of the WTA Tour. She lost in the second round to Jelena Janković despite leading by a set and a break. Ivanović entered the 2010 French Open unseeded at a Grand Slam for the first time since 2005. She fell to Alisa Kleybanova in the second round.Ivanović revealed that she had ended her coaching relationship with Swiss star Heinz Gunthardt, the former coach of Steffi Graf. This is because Gunthardt has mixed his interest with tennis and also being a Swiss television commentator. It was announced during the pre-Bali tournament but the relationship was ended after the China Open.

Ivanović started the year off with the 2011 Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia. She competed with Novak Djokovic under the Serbian Flag. Ana and Novak swept their first two ties against Kazakhstan and Australia, 3–0, though fell against Belgium, 1–2. They did qualify for the final, but due to an injury sustained during Ivanović’s match against Justine Henin, Serbia was forced to withdraw. Along with the Hopman Cup, Ivanović also withdrew from Sydney.

Ivanović was seeded 19th at the 2011 Australian Open, where she lost to Ekaterina Makarova, 6–3, 4–6, 8–10, in the first round in 2 hours and 47 minutes. Ivanović then played in the PTT Pattaya Open, where she fell in the quarterfinals to 5th seed Roberta Vinci in straight sets, 5-7, 3-6. She headed to Dubai as the 14th seed, where she faced Patty Schnyder and lost in three sets 6-4, 6-7, 2-6. She stated the loss was in part because of the abdominal injury sustained in the beginning of the season. Subsequently, she withdrew from Doha. Her next scheduled tournament is Indian Wells, where she is not defending any points.

Ivanović is an offensive baseliner who is notable for her aggressive play. In 2007 and 2008, Ivanović was regarded as one of the best competitors on the women’s tour. After winning the 2008 French Open and becoming #1, Ivanović has endured a significant slump in form.

Many critics attribute her loss in form to her lack of confidence and self-belief. At the 2010 Australian Open, Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova commented that, “while she has absolutely no confidence in herself, she still fights till the last point.”

Currently, she has made some improvements to her playing style since appointing a new coach in 2010. As a result, she has started to play with more confidence and is winning matches more consistently.

By Terence Johns


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