Former World No. 3 Gabriela Sabatini, who turns 50 years old on May 16th, reflected on her career and her life in an interview to the Argentine daily La Nacion. The winner of the 1990 US Open, Sabatini remains one of the most popular figures in tennis even today, more than two decades after she retired from professional tennis.
In the interview, the Argentine spoke about how she difficult it was to deal with the dame and exposure that came with being among the top players in the world. "More than anything at the beginning, because that was when I was 16, 17 years old and they started with this fame, that the press talked more about me and sometimes it hurts when they are things without knowledge.
So, that's where you have to start to separate and understand what that is about, not to leave the place where you are, to follow the path of the objectives, of the profession and that is what has always allowed me to stay focused.
You tried to shield yourself, so that it affected you as little as possible. "It is the most difficult part, because one is not used to having a more public life, those pressures. So, yes, I think that is what cost me the most at the time: having to deal with it, having to separate things, because there were many comments that did not make me feel good, they made me suffer, so I had to separate and concentrate more than anything on the game, on tennis, on my goals and that was what helped me."
The Argentine, who has a very successful perfume business in her post tennis career, says she was surprised to find herself being recognised in places like Warsaw and Budapest where she had never been earlier while she was promoting her perfume range.
"It happened to me when I had stopped playing, that I had to go to promote my perfume to places like Warsaw, Poland, which I had never been to. I went to a shopping mall to sign autographs and there was a long line of people waiting for me to sign.
Amazing. Elsewhere: Budapest, Hungary, the same thing happened to me. And in Bratislava, Slovakia. That happened to me in places where I had not gone to play and they knew me more for perfumes than for being a tennis player. So it was very curious and surprising."