Angelique, after your successes in the past few months, what are your feelings going into the off-season?
Angelique Kerber: “I’m feeling good and am pretty confident. I’ve just had an incredibly good second half to the year. I won in Bad Homburg, was in the Wimbledon and Cincinnati semifinals and also played well at the US Open. At the Billie Jean King Cup in Prague, I also beat a grand slam winner again. I also know I can still win against the world’s best.”
All this after the season began inauspiciously after being quarantined before the Australian Open. How did you get over it?
Kerber: “Locked up for two weeks in a hotel room is unbelievably tough. Afterwards, it took me months to return to the form the good pre-season preparations had got me into. Being quarantined cost me a few tournaments. All the nicer for me therefore that I turned things around in the second half of the season and was able to perform at my best again.”
What made the impressive comeback possible?
Kerber: “The key was definitely the return of the fans and the confidence I had in myself and my potential. It was something I also never lost in the difficult times. Fighting back after being down is somehow a part of my career. I had lots of patience in myself and always believed I could succeed once again. Having the feeling of being able to beat top players and be in the mix for the major titles was extremely important for me.”
Did you ever have any doubts?
Kerber: “As an athlete, one always somehow has doubts. It’s a part of things. But the trick is to draw positive energy and remotivate oneself to fulfil one’s goals.”
What was the turning point?
Kerber: “For sure the tournament in Bad Homburg. I had been looking forward to the grass court season the whole time. When I then won the Bad Homburg Open, to boot in front of a home crowd with a goose-bump feeling, really was a liberating feeling. My semifinal in Wimbledon then proved I was back to where I had wanted to be before the start of the season.
In Bad Homburg, you were not only a player but also one of the organisers. What kind of experience was it for you?
Kerber: “It was all very exciting and simultaneously a completely new experience. For me, it was amazingly interesting to see what happens behind the scenes at such a tournament and also to chip in with my experiences as a player. With Porsche, we also had a long-term partner of mine backing us. It made many things a bit easier and it contributed to the success of the tournament. The feedback from all the stakeholders was very positive and I’m already looking forward to next year.”
You’re back in the Top 10 after a long time. Where should your journey take you in 2022?
Kerber: “I’m not somebody that keeps looking at the world rankings. They’re no longer so important for me. The main thing is that I play well, have my heart in everything and then everything else comes automatically. I want to be in the mix for the titles at big tournaments. That’s my motivation.”
Your coach Torben Beltz will leave the team ahead of the 2022 season. After such a good second half to the season, what are your targets going into the next phase of your career and what new impulses are you hoping for?
Kerber: “I can look back positively on the past season. I invested lots of strength and energy to get to where I am now. For me, the next step when starting the season in Australia will be all about continuing where I left off. After Torben’s departure from the team, it also means that I would like to take on more responsibility. I’m very grateful for our time together and for everything we experienced and achieved as a team. It’s a new phase of my career that I’m about to enter now, whereas I’m fortunate to say that the rest of my team remains unchanged. In all the years, I’ve learnt how important it can be to have new impulses after a certain amount of time for one to continue competing at a top level.”
After so many years at the top, what gives you the motivation and strength of mind to continue to practice hard and work on your game?
Kerber: “My passion for tennis. I love the sport, the feeling of standing on the court and winning. The emotions give me confidence in my performance and the respect of other players. Most of them know they have to play their best tennis to beat me. I’ve worked hard in the past six months to regain that respect. I’ll be doing everything so that it stays that way.”
What positive impressions have you returned home with from the Billie Jean King Cup?
Kerber: “I naturally hoped I’d reach the semifinals with Porsche Team Germany. Having said that, the win against Barbora Krejcikova, the French Open winner, was hard-fought and fantastic confirmation of my good form in the past months. Additionally, our newcomers to the big tennis stage both put on a good show. Jule Niemeier and Nastasja Schunk, who are both still supported in the Porsche Talent Team, will have definitely taken away lots of positives from the week. It makes me very confident when it comes to Germany’s juniors. Jule and Nasti belong to our group of young players that have the potential of competing at the top. One however can’t expect it to happen tomorrow. But they are both on the right track.”
Porsche in Tennis
Porsche has been sponsoring the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix ever since 1978 and has also been the organiser since 2002. In the last vote to take place, the tournament in Stuttgart’s Porsche Arena was chosen by the players as their favourite event in its category. Within the scope of its global partnership with the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), Porsche is also the title partner of the “Porsche Race to the WTA Finals”, the official qualifying ranking for the WTA Finals. The Stuttgart-based sports car manufacturer is also the exclusive automotive partner of the WTA, the season-ending WTA Finals and of this year’s WTA tournaments in Lyon (France), St. Petersburg (Russia), Berlin and Bad Homburg (Germany), Cincinnati (USA), Linz (Austria) and the two events in Cluj (Romania). As a premium partner of the “Deutsche Tennis Bund” (DTB – German Tennis Association), the company supports Porsche Team Germany in the Billie Jean King Cup (formerly the Fed Cup) and fosters up-and-coming players in the Porsche Talent Team and the Porsche Junior Team. Angelique Kerber, Julia Görges and Maria Sharapova give Porsche a face in tennis as Brand Ambassadors.