Aryna Sabalenka: "Some time ago I thought I wasn't able of winning a Slam"

The Belarusian, winner of the Australian Open, revealed at thepress conference how in the past she thought she couldn't aspire to win a Major

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Aryna Sabalenka: "Some time ago I thought I wasn't able of winning a Slam"
© Julian Finney / Staff Getty Images Sport

A year after last season's success, Aryna Sabalenka confirmed herself as champion of the Australian Open. The Belarusian tennis player literally destroyed Qinwen Zheng for 6-3 6-2.

Sabalenka was the most consistent tennis player in this fortnight, demolishing her opponents one after the other with devastating tennis, rising above the mediocre level of the women's tournament and deservedly winning the title.

At the press conference, Aryna said she was proud of her success in a tournament during which she didn't lose a single set, revealing that she was ready to make the leap in quality even on clay and grass-courts. Sabalenka also joked with the media, explaining how she is two different people, so off the court.

"It's good that I'm two different people on and off the court, because if I were the same person I am on the pitch off the court,, I think I wouldn't have my team around me, and I think I'd be alone! It took me a long time to become what I am now on the pitch, to have control of myself and to understand myself better. Yes, it's been a long journey and a long way to go," she told.

The next goal of the two-time Australian Open champion is now to win on other surfaces too.

"I think I already demonstrated last year that I can play on any surface. I think the two semi-finals were very exciting. I played against incredible players and they played at an incredible level, but I felt super emotional and let that semi-final go away.

But I think if I continue to work like I'm doing now, and if we continue to build what we're building now, I will definitely be able to do the same on clay and grass. So I will continue to work hard and hopefully this year I will achieve the same goal on clay or grass."

"There was a moment when I believed that I wouldn't be able to win a Slam"

For the Belarusian tennis player, this is the second Slam of her career. "I always thought I didn't want to be the player who wins and then disappears. I just wanted to prove that I can consistently be there and that I can win another one."

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka© Julian Finney / Staff Getty Images Sport

Aryna then also revealed that she thought for a period of time that she wouldn't be able to make the leap in quality: "There was a moment when I believed that I wouldn't be able to win a Slam, especially during the period in which I was making double faults and I couldn't fix my serve. There have been many ups and downs. I thought I had to keep doing what I was doing and fight for my dream. I always believed that my father was watching me and he was very proud of me. So I couldn't stop for my family."

A victory dedicated to her father, who passed away in 2019 at just 44 years old. "Obviously he's my biggest motivation. He's been everything to me. But right now I have my mother and sister who are here with me and I feel like I have to think about them. But I feel that he is always with me. I'm very grateful for everything he's done for me and I think if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be here."

For Sabalenka this is the second Slam title in her career: the last one capable of winning twice in a row in Melbourne was her countrywoman Victoria Azarenka, in 2012 and 2013. It is no coincidence that Sabalenka has won 12 of the 14 tournaments added to the showcase on hard courts, a surface on which she expresses her best tennis and releases all her power.

Qinwen Zheng found herself playing the part of the supporting actress, and she never really worried her opponent in her first Slam final. Any way we have to underline how she is the second Chinese, after Li Na, to go this far. 

The Chinese told on the on-court interview: "I'm sure there will be more finals here in Australia, and better ones. Right now it's difficult for me to talk. It was my first Slam final. I have to thank my team for helping me get there here. Congratulations to Aryna, she deserved to win."

Sabalenka has experienced growth capable of leveraging a fundamental philosophy, which is to believe in herself regardless of the score and what happens on the court.

Aryna Sabalenka Australian Open