Vera Zvonareva: "It’s important to fight

every day and to improve yourself

and believe in yourself"

- There haven’t been the tournaments in St. Petersburg for ages. How do you feel yourself back here?
- I’m always happy to come back to St. Petersburg. Several times the organizers of the tournament provided me a wild card and I played there well: I have reached semis twice and won the doubles title. That’s why I have great memories and I love the center court here. I enjoy the way the crowd is supporting me here. So, I am enjoying the moment.

- I understand you well it always seemed to me that this tournament is closer to me than even the Kremlin Cup. Although I am not from St. Petersburg I always enjoyed playing here. And I heard many players feel like that too.
- Yeah. It’s a very hospitable tournament. Organizers are trying to do their best for players. Everything is very comfortable: lounge zone, practice courts, Centre court. So, it’s a pleasure to be there.

- Can you say a couple of words on the match [v. Diana Shnaider], it was quite intense. I heard people were impressed by your physical shape saying: ‘How is she doing that, 20 years elder than Diana and they are playing on the same level and well fitted even faster and more enduring. How did you manage to keep such a good shape?
- Well, I am trying to keep my shape. For me it’s very important to stay active and share my experience. I like to play both singles and doubles. While my bode let me do this, I will play. I am coming on court with a joy to play or to practice.

- You just love sports. It’s always a key to success. I have heard this year you practiced doubles more than singles. Are you planning to play only doubles next?
- This year it happens like that. Last year I missed a season due to the injure. I didn’t play during the year. This season I came back because my partner Laura Siegemund asked me to play with her as she hadn’t a teammate.

- You mean the one Laura you became the champions of US Open 2020 with?
- Yes, it was the pandemic year. And we were playing in front of empty stands. Then we won Miami Open in 2022, afterwards I was injured and missed a year. Later Laura asked me whether I’d like to come back. I didn’t manage to recover by the start of the season so I couldn’t play Australian Open. And we agreed to play her later.

- Did you freeze the ranking?
- Yeah, the ranking was frozen. On that moment my ranking was around top-20. It is enough for other tournaments. And we teamed up to play together. I can’t say everything went smoothly and easily from the very beginning; the clay season was tough. Laura also got injured and was out of Roland Garros. Laura also keeps on playing singles. And it is not easy. But step by step starting from summer and the grass season I began playing singles. But I still kept my focus on doubles.

- Do you have the same plans for the next season?
- To be honest I don’t know. I am living the momentum. I don’t know if I am ready to play the whole season, will I start with Australia or not. I am not sure. By now I’d like to come back to my family and to spend time with them. Last several months were hard as to enter the WTA Finals we need to won the tournament in China. We didn’t it and qualified for the Finals for the very last moment. And then managed to clinch the trophy.

- It’s amazing how you motivate yourself for the victories. Can you give a piece of advice how to compose yourself in important moments? Not just for the particular rally but for the whole tournament.
- It’s tough to say. I had already some big victories in my career but at the same time enough losses. I can’t say everything always goes my way. I think my love to this sport, the fact that I never give up and fighting till the end whatever condition I am in I am always trying to find a solution even when I am down during the match. I don’t always win but it seems to me that thanks to all these I won enough for my career.

- You had a great career! And you have a beautiful daughter! Is she playing tennis too?
- Yes, she started already to play tennis and I am trying to habituate her to sports. She is also going in for swimming. So, she is doing 2 sports. Sometimes I coach her. She didn’t want me to coach her before and she is working with another coach. But now I a little bit made her practice with me.

- But you didn’t push her to tennis before?
- No. Now we just want to habituate her to sports. Choose what you like but do sports. She was also fond of gymnastics before but it’s rather injurious sport. I was worried for her; I couldn’t see her doing bridging. That’s why offered tennis to her. I can’t say she was running to practice with a joy but then she started to be keen on it.

- You had a break in your career when you didn’t play tennis, what were you doing? Enjoying your time with family?
- I see myself in tennis even when I am not playing. I likely will stay in tennis even after retirement and I am trying to share my experience with young generation. For sure I am trying to spend time with family. Last years I was travelling a lot and I understand I have to spend more times with my daughter.

- What would you recommend to the young generation of my son’s and your daughter’s age?
- First of all, to enjoy and to accept the fact that there will be either victories or losses. It is sport. So, you need to fight every single day. Try to improve yourself and believe in yourself.

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