Greece's Maria Sakkari says that she is grateful to Roger Federer for speaking up for the lower-ranked players on the tour, in a column for Metro UK. The 24 year old Greek player says, "That’s why it was great to hear Roger Federer speaking up for the lower-ranked players last year.
Some people think it’s bad being No. 80 in the world. But how many lawyers are in the best 80 or the top-100? Or doctors? It’s still an amazing achievement. Of course, I have my own goals. I want to be world No. 1 and you need to have big ambitions to do that.
Whether I make it, I don’t know but I’m a hard worker so why not? I’m on my own path, we’ll see where it takes me." Sakkari, who is ranked No. 23 in the world, says she has learnt how to deal with negativity as people in general can be cruel.
"People can be cruel. It’s something you learn pretty quickly as a professional athlete. Growing up in Greece as the daughter of a tennis player, I became used to hearing hurtful comments. ‘Her mum was good but she’ll never be as good as her.’ ‘She’ll never achieve anything, she’s not talented.’ ‘She goes abroad so much because she’s afraid of playing in Greece.’ You get the picture.
When I was going to national tournaments as a 12-year-old, I felt all the other parents hated me. It wasn’t a nice feeling. To be honest, it made me very upset and quite pissed off! It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, being bullied always hurts.
Of course, a lot of people have things a lot worse and everyone has their own problems growing up. I was fortunate to have a really supportive network of family and friends who looked out for me. Having the right people around you is always the most important thing.
The Greek player also says that she has some made some great friends on the tour, which have helped her along the way. "Life on the road can be a lonely business but I’m lucky I have some great friends on Tour, both on the WTA and the ATP side.
The women’s locker room isn’t as bad as some people make out and I don’t want to end my career and be like, “Oh my God, I’m completely alone. I’ve been doing this thing for like 10, 15 years and have no one”.
As I always say, I want my best friends on tour at my wedding. I want Donna Vekic there, I want Ajla Tomljanovic to come. What’s the point of hating everyone? I don’t get it. It’s not like we’re playing against them every single day! "