Arantxa Sanchez Vicario inspires youngsters for Rendezvous junior event

Arantxa, who won 14 Grand Slam titles, including six doubles and four mixed doubles, said that she was asked as to how many games she would win in the French final against Steffi Graf in 1989.

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario won 29 singles and 69 doubles titles in her brilliant career.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

For the brave, every negative observation is an inspiration.
 

Three-time French Open champion and former World No.1 in singles and doubles, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, inspired the young players assembled for the Rendezvous Roland Garros junior wild card event, by recalling the best moment of her career and how she coped with the situation.

Arantxa, who won 14 Grand Slam titles, including six doubles and four mixed doubles, apart from four Olympic medals, singles and doubles, said that she was asked as to how many games she would win in the French final against Steffi Graf in 1989.

"I told the journalist that I would first enjoy the moment of reaching the final. Second, I told that we would speak the next day. The whole night I could not sleep. I was only 17, playing first Grand Slam final, against Steffi Graf who had not lost a match for 2.5 years.

The year before she had won all the four Grand Slams and the Olympic gold also. She had won her title the previous year in Paris with a 6-0, 6-0 score. I was tired when I went for the warm-up next
morning’’, recalled Arantxa.

Putting aside the perplexing thoughts, she said that her goal was to give 100 per cent and that she had nothing to lose as she was playing the best in the world.

"We went 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, and it went to the tie-break. The French crowd was with me. They gave me energy and motivation. I won the first set in an hour and 10 minutes. Everyone realised that it was going to be different. Lost the second 3-6, and was losing 3-5 in the third.
 

But I broke for 4-5, and again for 6-5. Serving for the match, my legs were shaking and I was nervous. When I eventually won, I threw my racquet in the air and rolled on the ground. Only when I went to the net to shake hands with Steffi Graf, I knew it was real. Never doubt anyone before the match.

"I was the happiest girl in the world, and enjoying the moment like a baby. It took me three days to realise what I had done’’, said Arantxa, to a roaring applause from the gathering.

Obviously, the journalist apologised to her and had no more questions for Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, who won 29 singles and 69 doubles titles in her brilliant career.

Inspiring the kids further, Arantxa said that she had no great height or strength, but nothing stopped her from playing her best and fighting hard, not worrying about the results.

Playing on clay is the best preparation for an all-court game and Arantxa said that the players would do well to capitalise on the opportunity to compete on red clay in Paris and take their career
forward.

"I will be there rooting for you", she promised about her presence for the three-day Rendezvous Roland Garros event at the DLTA Complex, which identifies the champions in the boys and girls event and helps them compete with similar champions from China, Japan, Brazil, Korea, US for the French Open junior wild card.

The organisers recalled how Adil Kalyanpur and Mahak Jain who had made it to Paris last year from the event, had done very well with their career so far and looked set to reach greater heights.