Olympic champion in the women’s doubles alongside Elena Vesnina in Rio 2016.
Four-time Grand Slam champion in doubles (Roland Garros 2013, US Open 2014, Wimbledon 2017, US Open — Mixed Doubles 2012), three-time WTA Tour winner in singles (2010 Aegon International [Eastbourne], Pattaya Open 2014, Washington D.C. 2017), 15-time WTA Tour winner in doubles.
Semifinalist in the US Open 2014 and Australian Open 2015 in singles. 2008 Fed Cup winner.
Highest singles ranking number 8. Highest doubles ranking number 1. Master of Sports of Russia, international class, Honored Master of Sport, Medal of the Order of Friendship.
Career and personal history
Childhood and youth
I started playing tennis when I was five and a half. Some friends of ours wanted to do something for their, daughter Elena Konovalova, who was the same age as me, at the “Luzhniki” sports center. Her parents decided that it would be more fun for us, so that’s how our families began spending more time together.
My first coach was Anna Nartsissova. I was with her for half a year. After that, the Granaturova sisters came to be some of my main coaches, they laid the whole foundation. That’s how my tennis career started.
Irina Grigorevna Granaturova said that there is a moment in tennis when you transfer from the small tournaments with small prize pools to the larger tournaments. You need to go through the small tournaments as fast as possible because it’s kind of like a marsh where you can get stuck your whole life without ever leaving. Those words pushed me towards the larger tournaments.
Irina and Yelena also kept telling me that I didn’t have a sportsman’s anger, and that I was very kind, like it was a shame to offend my opponent. It’s only worth getting angry on the court, not in the rest of your life, but that’s how you end up winning. My coaches spent years working on that, but with a fair amount of work they managed to succeed. I only started with adult tennis when Eugenia Alexandrovna Maniokova introduced me to a new word - confidence, that became one of the most important things in my career.
The first turning point was in junior tennis. I had started playing well when I was 16, but I had less success the following year and my rating took a big hit. I had already been training for 11 years in “Luzhniki” at that point, so I started thinking about changing something in my life and trying something in a different area. Instead of the Russian State University of Physical Education, I chose the National Design Institute where I studied costume design for a year. It was hard to combine my education in the evening with tournaments and training sessions, so I took academic leave and went to Spain for three months to the renowned Valencia Tennis Academy. When I came back to Moscow, I started working with a new coach, Eugenia Maniokova, and with her my career quickly took off. After some time, I nevertheless went to the Russian State University of Physical Education and graduated successfully.
The next turning point can be linked to two injuries: a hand injury which took three months to heal with me having to miss tournaments, and the second injury with my Achilles tendon which became chronic because it hadn’t healed in time.
My team includes Eugenia Maniokova, someone who I have been with for 13 years. Anatoly Grigorevich Glebov was my general physical preparation coach for three years. I have a personal masseur. I played tennis friendlies with Anton Zaytsev for eight years, and then for six months with Alexander Krasnorutskiy. Husan Usmanov was my osteopath for a year.
General physical preparation coach
Elena wrote suggesting we play together for the three tournaments before the London Olympics. According to the rules of participation, if one player is in the top ten, they can take absolutely any player from within their own country, regardless of ranking. Elena was exactly tenth. I had dreamed of getting into the Olympics all my life, so I agreed right away. There was, however, the threat of Elena’s results not being confirmed and then her losing her position as tenth.
We won the first two tournaments and advanced to the final straight away, we subsequently played in the quarterfinal at Roland Garros. We lost in the London quarterfinal. After that game, we already had a clear goal and worked for four years to make it a reality in Rio where we eventually won.
I remember ‘Evening Urgant’ most of all where Elena Vesnina and I appeared together right after the Olympics. I participated in a few ‘Match TV’ broadcasts. I’m very proud of being on the US ‘Tennis Channel’ which came to Moscow for a few days.
Hobbies and Interests
I like fashion and I find it interesting, I love studying wardrobe styling in particular. I like walking and shopping in my spare time. My circle of friends and family is very important, so I like spending time in the relaxed atmosphere of the dacha. Depending on my mood, I’ll sometimes go to a museum, but that happens pretty rarely. I find incredible views mesmerizing, especially Altai. I prefer the mountains to the sea. I’d also consider table aesthetics one of my hobbies; It’s something I really enjoy.
I’d say roast chicken and fish count among my specialties judging by feedback from my friends and people close to me, the same goes for breakfasts on beautifully laid tables. I love pizza.