Monday, April 3, 2023

Media Day in Charleston

clockwise, from top left: Shelby Rogers, Paula Badosa, Belinda Bencic, Madison Keys, Ons Jabeur (all photos by Daniel Ward)

Five of the top players in the Credit One Charleston Open draw met with the media today, and they talked about fitness, their love for the tournament, and several other subjects, including the transition to clay courts from hard, promoting tennis in their communities, interior design, and their upcoming nuptials.

Defending champion Belinda Bencic said that winning in Charleston last year has really helped her clay game in terms of the mental aspect. “I’m no longer analyzing, ‘Should I slide here? Should I move here?’” Bencic talked about how special it feels to see her face on a billboard, to see photos of herself with the trophy, and to see her racket hanging in the players' area.

She also told us about last year's victory celebration, which--apparently--her team commenced right away. Bencic had some champagne before the she met with the press, then realized that she hadn't eaten anything, and said that she felt a bit woozy. By the time she got to the hotel, her team had consumed a lot more champagne, and “I had to pack all the bags because the others weren’t able to." 

Paula Badosa, who has had a tough year, dealing with injuries, told us that she feels that she has matured, and in doing so, has "learned to just accept things." Badosa said that her favorite Charleston moment was when she defeated world number 1 Ash Barty in the 2021 quarterfinals. “Nobody know me, I think she didn’t know me.”

A couple of the players discussed the depth of today's WTA field. Shelby Rogers said that “Right now, I feel like everybody is so good, and it’s a battle.” She added that it's hard to take one's past experiences with an opponent and apply them to a current match. And Madison Keys added that "everyone is so good now that each player can do well on every surface."

all photos by Daniel Ward
Both Keys and Rogers are planning weddings, and Keys is buying a new house. The house that she lives in now was featured in various media because Keys had decorated it herself (and had done a really good job). She said that she plans to decorate the new one, also. I asked her if she's given any thought to perhaps pursuing interior decorating--or even interior design--at some point. Keys said that her interest in interiors is significant, and she hasn't ruled out pursuing a career in the decorating or design field.

The players also talked about their reactions to devices like WHOOP, and the answers were varied, though all agreed that collecting fitness and health data can be useful. They also all agreed that only a player can fully "know" her body, so intuitive information needs to be combined with/weighed against data. Ons Jabeur doesn't use any of the devices, and Bencic likes for her physio to use them, but she doesn't want to receive the data. Also, Jabeur has recently gone on a gluten-free diet (though she thinks that it will be very difficult to remain on it when she's in Tunisia).

It was Jabeur who delivered the most surprising comment during the session. “Tennis," she said, "is part of my life. It's not a big part of my life--I’m probably going to go on a few more years.”

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