Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova recalls looking up to Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova



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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova recalls looking up to Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 31, says times have changed in tennis as nowadays players are much more open and friendly. When Pavlyuchenkova was starting her tennis career, she was told by coaches that lone wolfs were succeeding in tennis.

Watching Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and some other Russian tennis stars from that period, Pavlyuchenkova figured out that her coaches had a point and that she indeed needed to be distant and not very friendly with her competition if she wanted to be successful.

But with social media and everything we have in this age, tennis players are now much more connected and there are numerous friendships on the tours.

Pavlyuchenkova on players being more open, friendly nowadays

On the WTA Insider podcast, Pavlyuchenkova said: "When I was younger, we always had role models like Sharapova, Serena, and most of them were very distant.

And because they were doing so well, I thought that's the way I should be on the tennis courts and around the tour and everything. So I was actually trying to copy them. Some of my ex-coaches were also telling me you have to always be lonely, keep distance between players, you can't be friendly with anybody because you might play against her.

From juniors, then I was 16, 17 when I came on tour and I was honestly shocked and intimidated a lot. Kuznetsova was different, she was one of the only ones who was friendly on tour back then. But a lot of players -- Chakvetadze, Zvonareva -- I was so intimidated.

When we would practice with each other I was afraid to miss the ball because I would get those looks like, What's wrong with you? I didn't feel right. I didn't feel accepted. Now getting older and spending so much time around the tour, it's just not me.

I'm very social. So why not be open?" Last year, Pavlyuchenkova appeared in a total of three tournaments due to a knee injury. While Pavlyuchenkova was injured, fellow tennis players were reaching out to her to check out on her well-being.

When Pavlyuchenkova returned to action at the start of the 2023 season, her colleagues approached her to wish her a warm welcome.