Tough 6 Months in the Past for Former No. 1 Mauresmo at Wimbledon
Coming off a 2006 year when she won two Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, the first six months of 2007 have been difficult for former world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo. Through a combination of injuries and health issues, the Frenchwoman has failed to surpass the fourth round at her first two Slams of the year.
Scheduled as the top seed at the Bausch & Lomb Championships in Amelia Island, Mauresmo was forced to withdraw from the event with an emergency appendectomy which stalled her claycourt preparation and contributed to a third-round loss at the French Open. But that didn’t dampen her spirits in June as the defending Wimbledon champion entered the grasscourt season.
In London prior to Wimbledon the 27-year-old took part in a unique exhibition, playing on a court split between two high-rise buildings to promote her new clothing sponsor Reebok. The court was split in half and placed on both sides of a 30-foot gap on the roof of a car park in Brent Cross. With views across London and the new Wembley Stadium in the background, Mauresmo took part in a 30-minute exhibition warm-up as well as taking time out to play against members of the British public.
“That was definitely a first for me, it was a long way from Centre Court last July,” Mauresmo said of the unique event. “I’m privileged to play on the best tennis courts in the world, but this was totally unique and much more me.”
Roy Gardner, Reebok’s head of European marketing, explained the stunt. “At Reebok we celebrate the individuality of our athletes and this is a great way to launch her new kit and showcase her in a different way.”
Mauresmo suffered a thigh injury during the French, but recovered in time for Wimbledon.
“It’s better, I had some trouble during the French Open but I hit the ball for the first time at the British Embassy in Paris, the only grasscourt in France,” Mauresmo said before Wimbledon. “I had the usual treatment, there was a little tear so we had to make sure it went away and not start playing too early and make it worse. It’s not there yet, I still need a few days to get confidence back in my movement.”
In addition to her Reebok clothing line, Mauresmo also changed racquets to HEAD, and spoke with the racquet company regarding her life on tour:
Q: Where do you call home and what do you miss the most while you are on tour?
Mauresmo: “Geneva. My friends and family and of course my dogs!”
What does a typical day include for you? What is your schedule like from when you wake up in the morning and then go to sleep at night?
“My days begin with breakfast, the most important meal of the day. I read the paper and organize my self for the day. We usually practice for a couple of hours in the morning and then we have lunch. In the afternoon we practice for another hour on the court and work in the gym for an hour or two. We then work on the muscles, with the massage and stretching. If I have to do an interview, I do it at the end of the day. For dinner we relax and get ready for the next day.”
How would your friends or peers describe you?
“My friends describe me as a hard worker but fun loving. I have lots of friends at home but also on the tour. My team is also made up of good friends. If we did not have a strong sense of companionship and loyalty towards each other, it would be hard to travel together. We are very close.”
You’ve recently had to recover from illness; how did your routine change during that time and were you anxious to return to the court?
“Well, having my appendix out was unexpected; so, it changed everything. I had to take it easy and work back up to a level of fitness slowly. I was very anxious to return to the court because recovering from appendicitis is not the best way to prepare for the Slams.”
What is one thing that would surprise most people about life on the professional tennis circuit?
“The thing that surprises most people is that life on the tour is not as glamorous as it seems. We work hard; we get tired; we get sick sometimes and we are away from home for long periods of time.”
What is the funniest/strangest thing you’ve seen happen at a tournament, either in the player’s lounge area or on court?
“The funniest thing I’ve ever seen was at the 1996 Wimbledon final when Richard Krajicek won the title. There was a stripper who ran across the court. I won the junior title that year.”
Life on tour is probably very demanding. What do you do when you aren’t playing or travelling to relax?
“I play cards with my friends.”
The tennis season is extremely long and grueling. What is your training regiment like and how do you keep in shape outside of coaching sessions?
“We take three weeks and go up to the Pyrenees to work on fitness. We do grueling hills on the bike and lots of intense training to get into the best possible shape for the new season.”
Mauresmo says she looks forward to defending her Wimbledon title, and will at the same time need to put up some big numbers in the coming months to keep her ranking in the Top 5.
“It’s been a tough year,” Mauresmo said, “but I’m looking forward to a better second part of the year.”
This article originally appeared in the July issue of JAX Tennis Magazine, covering Jacksonville and Northeast Florida. Media kit at www.jaxtennismagazine.com
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