Jelena Jankovic’s career has been a tale of highs and lows. From reaching the summit of the women’s rankings in 2008 – the first one to do so without reaching a single Grand Slam final – to struggling with form and injuries. She is once again on the rise, winning three WTA titles in 2015.
The Serbian, now in India to take part in the second edition of the Champions Tennis League (CTL) for Nagpur Orangers, spoke to Sportstar on Tuesday.
Question: You played in the CTL last year too. How has your experience in India been?
Answer: I had a great experience in the CTL last year. I love being here again. Last year we made the finals with the Delhi team and it was very interactive with fans and players.
You are World No. 22 now. How do you see your career going ahead?
This year I had quite a lot of injuries, especially in the first half of the year. In the last couple of months, I have been able to pick up form and get some good results. I won three tournaments and defeated top 10 players in the second half. Hopefully, I can continue to work hard and use this time to prepare for next year and be with the top players and improve my game.
Your thoughts on Serena Williams and the reasons behind her domination…
She is a very powerful player. She is very strong and physically fit. She has had an incredible career and is probably the best of all time.
Among the younger crop is there any one player who you think can dominate women’s tennis?
Nowadays, everything is open in women’s tennis. We had a lot of different players reaching major finals. The younger players having a good first season is great. But the challenge comes in the second year. That is where you have to establish yourself to prove you are a top player. In the first year no one knows a lot about you or your game. In the second year, people analyse you and your game and there is more attention on you from players and the media. So coping with that extra pressure is difficult, but the good players will find a way to do it.
Your take on women coaches on the ATP tour. How can they help?
It’s nice to see Amelie Mauresmo coaching (Andy) Murray. She is helping him, sharing her knowledge and doing a good job. Sometimes it can be on a mental level and at the highest level there are little things here and there that can make a big difference.
Around 2007-08, there was a boom in Serbian tennis with you, Novak Djokovic and Anna Ivanovic all performing well and reaching the top. What is the status of tennis in Serbia now?
We still have really good players. Novak is still dominating. I am ranked 20 and Ana is doing well and we are still close to the top. Sometimes your form goes down due to injuries. It takes time to come back, but if you are healthy and working hard you can make a come back.
What is the secret of Serbian success?
I think we are gifted as a nation in sports, and this is not only in tennis. Our secret, I think, is we are very hungry and want to be number one and coming second is not enough. We had no tradition in tennis and our economical status is not very good, but all our players work really hard and want to be a winner.