The Time Out Interview: Caroline Wozniacki
A defiant Caroline Wozniacki is ready to put a disappointing 2012 behind her. By Wong Boon Ken
Alongside Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki is one of the most recognisable faces in women’s tennis. The 22-year-old from Odense, Denmark had the tennis world at her feet, climbing to the top of the world rankings in 2010 and staying there for 67 straight weeks on the back of some stellar results. However, unlike Serena and Maria, Grand Slam success continued to elude Caroline, leading to widespread criticism about her status as the world’s best player.
The Monte Carlo resident finally relinquished her top billing following last January’s Australian Open, where she was eliminated in the quarterfinals. A poor run of form preceded her slump down the rankings, where she ultimately finished 2012 in tenth position. Despite enduring a frustrating 12 months, Caroline remains upbeat about her chances this season, as she speaks to Time Out about her high profile relationship with golfer Rory McIlroy and the legacy she wants to leave behind.
2012 didn’t exactly go to script for you. What’s your mindset going into this season?
I think I got away from my game a bit in 2012 and began to lose my confidence. I have my confidence back, so I have high hopes for 2013. I’m going to stick to the style of play that got me to number one in the world.
So there were no drastic changes to your off-season preparations for 2013?
For one, I have returned to having my dad as my coach. He coached me to the top of the world rankings, so I would say he is a pretty good coach! I won’t alter my style of play too much this season, but of course I am always looking to improve my game, so I have continued to work on different shots and improve my fitness.
Speaking of fitness, describe your training regime.
I usually play tennis for about three to four hours per day. In addition, I also do fitness and weights for nearly two hours each day, but I do try to take a day off every week as well.
You’re known for your excellent retrieval skills and court coverage. What are your fitness secrets to achieving that level of performance during matches?
There isn’t really a secret to it. Good fitness just requires a lot of hard work and disciplined eating habits. My workouts are very tough, but I enjoy them because I know they will benefit me during those long three-set matches. Besides, I have a fitness trainer who gets me in great shape and a dad who works me hard on the court!
What songs do you listen to when you hit the gym?
I like to listen to upbeat songs when I work out. I don’t listen to a specific genre, just whatever gets me pumped up.
At only 22, you have plenty of time left on tour to carve your name into the history books. What do you expect to achieve by the time you retire?
I would love to make it into the hall of fame. Growing up, I always loved watching Steffi Graf and Martina Hingis, and I would love to follow in their footsteps. Hopefully I’ll have a few Grand Slams on my resume by the time I retire.
Is it harder to achieve those goals when you seem to receive more flak than other players when it comes to results, especially when you gained the number one ranking without winning a Grand Slam title?
All the talk doesn’t really bother me. I finished 2010 and 2011 as number one in the world, so I have come to expect the extra scrutiny from the press. My friends and family kept my thoughts positive and helped me get through the tough past year. Rory [McIlroy, boyfriend and golfer] has also been a great addition to my support team.
You mentioned Rory. How important is it for both of you to share the same level of success in your respective sport in order to avoid negative emotions in your relationship?
That’s not something that has crossed either of our minds. We care for each other very much and would like nothing more than to see each other succeed in our respective sport. No matter how I am playing, I always want him to play his best, and that goes both ways.
Let’s talk about your Serena Williams impersonation during an exhibition match recently. A lot of people didn’t take too kindly to the stunt. What do you think about the backlash you’ve received?
I just think the media loves to make anything into a story. Serena is one of my best friends on tour and my impersonation was all for fun. Serena and I spoke after the media ran with this story and she thought it was blown way out of proportion. Moving forward, I’ll probably drop my Serena impersonation though [laughs].
You’re quite the jokester on tour. Any player in particular you’re looking to prank during interviews in 2013?
That’s a good question! I haven’t thought about that yet, but maybe I should start planning one now [pauses]. Watch your back Serena!
Catch former world number one women’s singles player Caroline at this month’s BMW Malaysian Open 2013. See event listing for more info.