Czech Republic tennis player Barbora Krejcikova became a household name when she won the French Open 2021 women’s singles final on June 12. The Czech beat Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final to win her maiden single’s Grand Slam title. It was a big moment for the 25-year-old, who has been on the pro circuit for years but mostly enjoyed success in the doubles division. Having finally won a singles Grand Slam title, the challenge now will be to kick on from here. Women’s tennis has, over the years, seen a number of players struggle to show the consistency to remain on top.
Let’s take a look at a few interesting facts about the 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova.
Her love for the sport began at the age of 6. According to Krejcikova herself, at the time there wasn’t any pressure to take it up as a career option. That came later, and naturally.
However, even though her journey in the game began early, her rise came later than most. She has been part of the WTA tour since 2014 but only won her first singles title earlier this year.
It was at the Strasbourg WTA 250 event that she claimed her first WTA singles title. Given 25 is when most athletes are in their peak, it has come later for her than it does for most other.
Krejcikova was playing mostly ITF tournaments in singles until 2019. She made progress as a singles star in 2020, when she qualified for the main draw of the Australian Open – and won a match there too.
She went one step ahead in the 2020 French Open, making it to the round of 16 before losing to fellow qualifier qualifier Nadia Podoroska.
Prior to her title win at Strasbourg, she also made it to the final of a WTA 1000 tournament. There, she lost to Garbine Muguruza. But the eveolution was there for all to see.
Interestingly, prior to her French Open singles title, she has been victorious in five Grand Slam finals – but in the doubles category.
Before entering the senior division, she and compatriot Katerina Siniakova won three junior doubles titles. The duo also won doubles titles at Wimbledon and Roland Garros in 2018.
Her other three doubles titles came in the mixed doubles division and all in Australia. In 2019 and 2021 she won the title alongside America’s Rajeev Ram. In 2020, she won the title with Nikola Mektic.
Interestingly, she will contest the women’s doubles final at Roland Garros too on June 13.
Krejcikova dedicated her win at Roland Garros to Jana Novotna, the 1998 Wimbledon champion. Novotna had moved back to her home town of Brno in Czech Republic, where she was approached by a young Krejcikova.
The future Roland Garros winner was coached for three years by Novotna. However, Novotna’s cancer became too severe after a point after which she was unable to coach Krejcikova.
The 25-year-old dedicated her Grand Slam win to her legendary coach after the match. “Pretty much her last words were just enjoy and just try to win a Grand Slam. And, I mean, I know that, from somewhere, she’s looking after me,” Krejcikova said after the match.
“All of this that just happened, these two weeks, is pretty much because she is just looking after me from up there,” she said as she pointed her racket towards the sky.
“It was amazing that I had a chance to meet her and that she was such an inspiration for me. I just really miss her. But I hope she’s happy right now. I’m extremely happy.”
Krejcikova, when growing up, was a massive fan of Justine Henin. The Belgian star won the Roland Garros singles title four times, and was best known for her excellent one-handed backhand shot.
Speaking after her own win at Paris, Krejcikova recalled finally getting to meet her childhood idol at the start of the tournament.
“When I saw Justine Henin at the start of the fortnight, I said to myself wow, it’s really her. I was so surprised that she knew my first and last name.
“When I was younger I often watched tennis with my mom and admired her. I’ve always loved its one-handed backhand. She was also super strong mentally and physically.
“I was shaking when I saw her and I was able to touch her! I am so happy to have lived this moment, I will be able to tell it to my children.”
Krejcikova, like many other tennis players, lives and breathes for the sport. The nature of the tour and number of tournaments played often means time for things beyond tennis can be scarce.
Yet the Czech is obsessed with the sport. When she is at home in Brno, she visits her hometown tennis club and speaks to her childhood coach.
Besides that, she enjoys gardening, sewing and spending time with her family.