She has already celebrated two tournament wins in Stuttgart’s Porsche Arena – in 2015 and 2016. She talks in the interview about the long-standing tournament’s huge popularity amongst the players, the extremely strong line-up with nine Top 10 players and her chances of a third success.
Angelique, why do you and your fellow players like to come to the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix?
Angelique Kerber: “We players love this tournament. For us, it’s akin to a spa oasis in the daily life on the Tour. Being made to feel welcome is a very special feeling, no matter whether you’re a star or a qualifier. Ever since I first played in qualifying in 2005, the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix has basically accompanied me throughout my career. I was able to gain lots of experience here, experience that has advanced my career. I also learnt things even when I lost. I always look forward to returning to Stuttgart.”
How important is it for you that spectators will be allowed back into the Porsche Arena?
Kerber: “The fans and the fantastic atmosphere were the things I missed most of all last year. There were only a few cardboard dummies in the seating. It was naturally no comparison. What always motivated me the most was going out onto court, giving my best and feel the fans rooting for me, cheering me on and keeping their fingers crossed for me. It’s the nicest thing about my job.”
With nine Top 10 players, the tournament again has strength in depth this year. Is it additional motivation for you?
Kerber: “Definitely. Strong opponents are always additional motivation for me. That was the case when I won for the first time in the final against the then world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. It speaks for the tournament that so many top players compete year in, year out. It’s the challenge I’m really looking forward to.”
Was it the nicest of your two wins at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix?
Kerber: “You never forget winning such a fantastic tournament for the very first time. Therefore, the success against Caroline really was the nicest that I was able to enjoy in Stuttgart. The final was a real thriller. I was behind in the third set but then with the support of the crowd, I managed to turn the match around. In 2016 against Laura Siegemund, who made it to the final as a qualifier, it was the other way around. I was the big favourite and under all the pressure. It too was an important experience in my career that I associate with this tournament.”
You haven’t played that many matches this year so far. How realistic are the fans hopes that you could win for a third time?
Kerber: “For me, it’s important to have a certain match rhythm in order to produce my best tennis. This year, it has been a little difficult for me to get into my normal match rhythm. I had a very good preparation and had trained hard, and then corona set me back. I hope I can now get the match practice that I’m missing in Stuttgart. I’ll be thinking from match to match. I’ll leave my heart out on the court and give my all to show my best tennis with the support of the fans. We’ll see just how good it will work out and what’s then possible for me.”
An additional motivation is definitely the Porsche Taycan GTS Sport Turismo as the main prize for the winner.
Kerber: “All the players are eager to win the Porsche. That’s for sure. For all of us, it’s the most beautiful winner’s trophy on the WTA Tour. When playing on Centre Court, we’ve got the car in full view the whole week. There’s no better motivation.”