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“I don’t care if I win a Grand Slam when I’m 19 or 20” – Linda Fruhvirtova in no hurry to become tennis’ next teenage superstar
The 17-year-old is through to her first WTA singles final and will make her top 100 debut next week. But she insists she’s focused on continuous improvement rather than rankings right now
We live in an instant age, where we get and expect things in at the click of our fingers. We want youngsters to become champions instantly and when they do, we are ready to bring them down just as quickly.
But there’s a famous quote that goes, “Slowly is the fastest way to get to where you want to be”. And 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova seems very well aware of that as she takes a long-term view when it comes to her blossoming tennis career.
Ever since she won the Petits As tournament in 2020, the elder of the two Fruhvirtova sisters – yes there is a younger one, Brenda, and yes, she’s a pretty darn good player herself, has had the label of a potential Grand Slam winner and star player thrusted on her. But the teenager says it doesn’t affect her anymore even though fans and the media expect her to beat higher-ranked and far more experienced players.
“Ever since I was really young, we always had a lot of attention, even if it was the national u-10 tournament. I’m kind of used to people watching how I am going to do. However, in tennis, as soon as you lose two matches, people say, ‘Oh, she’s going down’ and then you win two matches and they go ‘She’s a star’. You can’t really focus on what other people are saying. That’s not where my focus is going.”
Fruhvirtova, who described her fighting spirit and her leaving-it-all-out-there attitude as her biggest strength, does a pretty good job of tuning out the noise, insisting that she hasn’t set any ranking goals for the months or year ahead and would rather focus on continuous improvement.
“I don’t think I’m in the position yet to think that I have to be top 50 or top 60 by end of the season or by the end of the summer. I would really like to be in the position where I can play the main draws of the big tournaments and the Grand Slams. I just want to keep getting stronger and keep improving.”
A self-confessed Serena Williams and Roger Federer fan, Fruhvirtova has been fortunate enough to meet both her idols and says she has nothing but respect for the two. And even as she is sad to see both hang up their racquets over these past few weeks, she says perhaps it is a sign of a changing of the guard.
“When we were younger, we always cheered for Serena and Roger. This day had to come although we wish it didn’t. It’s like the end of an era. And now the generations are changing. New players are coming, like Alcaraz. I think now is the time for a generation change.”
With younger sister Brenda already ranked inside the top 200 before her 16th birthday, the Fruhvirtovas are among the leading candidates to fill some of the void left by the departure of the two GOATs. However, Linda is in no rush and says it does not matter if she achieves her goal of winning a Major as a teenager or as an adult.
“We can see that it (winning a Grand Slam as a teenager) is possible but I don’t think it is possible to dominate and win many Slams at the age of 15 or 16 as it was in the past. Of course, you want to win the Grand Slams as soon as possible but I don’t care whether I win one when I’m in 19 or 20. I am just going to try my best and we will see.”
“I can’t wait. It has always been the goal” – Linda Fruhvirtova on sister Brenda joining her on the WTA Tour
Like the Williams sisters, the Fruhvirtova sisters are also super close and Linda says she can’t wait to travel alongside her fast-rising sister to the same tournaments.
“Oh, I can’t wait. It has always been the goal. We really want to go tournaments together. And it looks like we are going to go together to Australia which is really exciting. She has been playing unbelievably well. She’s a very tough opponent for any player and I think she will be fine even at the bigger tournaments.”
And although they have dreamed of playing Grand Slam finals between themselves, Linda appeared slightly stumped when I asked if she would prefer beating her younger sister in a first Grand Slam final for both or another player.
“Seriously, it’s a tough question. It has two sides but I wouldn’t reject it (smiling)!! If we both get to the final together and it’s our first time, if one would win, I believe the other would have a chance to win another one for sure. It would be pretty unbelievable. Especially for our parents, they wouldn’t care who wins.”
This week, the Fruhvirtova sisters took another step towards their dream of competing side-by-side on the global stage. On Saturday, Linda reached her first ever WTA level final in Chennai where she beat former French Open semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska in a three-set thriller, coming from 2-4 down in the final set to win in front a packed Centre court crowd that she described as “the best atmosphere I have ever played in”. On the same day, Brenda won her 24th match in a row on the ITF Circuit, half way across the world in Italy, and remains on course to make the cut for the Australian Open qualifying draw. While the tennis world can’t wait for its next Sister Act at the top of the game, the Fruhvirtovas are in no hurry. But rest assured that when they do get there, they will be ready!!
(This article was originally published on the WTA Tour website)