Agnieszka Radwanska, the Professor who changed tennis in Poland

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Agnieszka Radwanska, the Professor who changed tennis in Poland

They called her the Ninja, but Agnieszka Radwanska has always preferred to be labeled The Professor. It was an homage to her nearly perfect game. You can't change your genes, she said to The Guardian in 2016. “I was always the smallest one, the thinnest one.

They were laughing at me, thinking that if it was windy it would just blow me away. I will never be able to serve to 100mph like other girls so I have to figure out other ways to beat those players”. She walked on the rope throughout her career, aware that over-working in the gym using too much weights could have produced a loss in terms of speed, feeling, touch.

Modern tennis required stamina, so she had to try to get stronger. But, faithful to her father who taught her smart tennis, she never looked like others. After the Professor's retirement, her Polish fans felt like a knife stuck in their heart, wrote Bartosz Gebicz on Przeglad Sportowy.

The decision didn't come as a surprise, although sudden emptiness remains hard to counter yet. “She has no deputy or substitute at the moment,” he wrote. “We waited for her matches, we analyzed her possibilities to reach the final stages in the biggest tournaments.

And not for a year, two or three. For more than a whole decade” Gebicz quoted Wojciech Fibak to say. It was him in 2006, after a memorable meeting with Anastasia Myskina in Warsaw, to predict that the then 17-years old Radwanska would have beaten all his records.

In the mid-70s, Fibak started a national tennis boom in Poland almost all by himself. As the first professional tennis star from his country, he received international acclaim and all at once tennis courts began popping up all over the nation.

“The most intriguing part of Fibak's game is that he has no forte. No one strength that sets him apart from others. He has never been noted for his blazing serve, his rocket forehand or his lethal backhand. He has a true all-around game.

His technique has not died out with the advancement of the game and the younger generation” wrote Mark Cannizzaro on The Los Angeles Times in 1985. Fibak, who became Ivan Lendl's manager and persuaded him to come to the United States, is believed to have the largest collection of Polish master painting outside of Poland.

He predictably appreciated the different talents of the Professor Radwanska, who made the Masters tournament not only associated in Poland to his defeat in Houston. “On the contrary, in our tennis tradition, it will become a symbol of rebirth, resurrection, and rivalry until the end.

In 2015, after two unsuccessful matches Radwańska won three more and in fantastic style, she reached in Singapore for the triumph in the WTA finals” Gebicz wrote. In 2015, playing the first final in her seventh appearance at the season-ending event, the Pole also created history by becoming the first woman to lift the title after completing round robin play with a 1-2 record.

“A few weeks ago I didn’t even know I would be here,” a tearful Radwanska said after her rollercoaster 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Petra Kvitova in an absorbing encounter at a packed Singapore Indoor Stadium .

“I was doing the right thing in the important moments of a really close match, I had my chances in the second set but it doesn’t really matter how I won” The Cracovian had to confirm her class week in, week out from Australia to Asia through Europe and America.

She competed as globally and intensely as the driver Robert Kubica and the Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, the most recognized Polish athletr in the 21st century. Born in Poland, she effectively grew up in Germany for almost seven years before her family decided to come back to Krakow.

“Everyone said it was impossible. In my city there are no hard courts. There’s clay, carpet, and something like a hard [court] but none outside” she said in 2009. “I just want to show everyone you can do it [without going to] a tennis academy, where it’s just tennis and nothing else.

I just wanted to stay home”. And she did it. The former Wimbledon junior champion in 2005 played 47 consecutive Grand Slam mian draws before missing 2018 Roland Garros due to injury. On the cherished grass at the All England Club, in 2012 she became the first Polish woman to reach a Grand Slam final in the Open Era losing to Serena Williams.

In 1937, London had learned to pronounce the surname of another girl from a distant Krakow who came on court for the title-match, Jadwiga Jędrzejowska, accompanied by the sounds of balls and racquets from an early age because he lived just beside the courts.

Accepted on special terms to the club at 13, Jadwiga met with a social boycott because ladies did not want to play with the worker's daughter. So she started training with men. That year, in the Wimbledon final she led 4-1 30-15 in the decider against Dorothy Round.

But it was not enough. “I was afraid of victories” she complained after the finale, according to a long article on the Polish magazine Styl. For participating in the final she received a voucher worth 3.5 pounds, but she became the first Polish celebrity.

Voted the best national athlete in 1936 and 1937, she collected wins and advertising contracts. During one match in the United States, a stranger shouted: "You do not know tennis at all!". That stranger turned out to be Charlie Chaplin, and they became close friends.

Like Jadwiga, Radwanska proudly brought the Polish vessel at Grand Slam level. A two-time junior champion, as she also won 2006 Roland Garros, she reached two Australian Open semifinals, in 2014 (l. eventual R-Up Cibulkova) and 2016 (l.

eventual R-Up S.Williams), and a Roland Garros quarter-final in 2013 (l. Errani). Radwanska, who won 20 career titles and made at least one final showing a year for eleven seasons from 2007 to 2017, has finished eight seasons in the Top 10 (2008-09, 2011-16), including four Top 5 years (2012-13, 2015-16).

In 2016, when she claimed her last title in Beijing, she was one of six players to win a hat-trick of titles (also Azarenka, Cibulkova, Kerber, Halep and Stephens) having triumphed at Shenzhen (d. Riske in F), and New Haven (d.

Svitolina in F) previously. As mark of consistency, she won at least 45 matches in five straight seasons from 2012-16, including career-high 59 in 2012. Radwanska, whose prize money stands at more than 27 million dollars, became the first Polish woman to win a WTA singles title at 2007 Stockholm, to rank in the Top 10 (after 2008 Wimbledon), and to defeat a World No.1 player (Wozniacki at 2012 Sydney).

She reached her career-high singles ranking of No.2 on July 9, 2012, completed her career with an overall 594-269 win-loss record. But her legacy went far beyong her accomplishments. She taught Polish fans not to measure their ambitions on their strength, she showed how to go beyond their limits.

As she said to Remi Abulleil on Sport 360, she hopes to be remembered as “the one to be on top for so many years, the player that played so many grand slams in a row and played entertaining tennis for so many years”.

Now, it's time “for new challenges, new ideas, equally as exciting as those on the tennis court,” as Radwanska, who married her hitting partner Dawid Celt last year, announcing her desire to leave tennis.

President Andrzej Duda of Poland wished Radwanska good luck and thanked her on Twitter for all the “successes and wonderful promotion of Poland on courts across the world.” That's the Professor's definite lesson.