At the end of a strange tennis year with few tournaments Angelique Kerber is in preparation for the new season. Shortly before the Australian Open in February, the three-time Grand Slam winner wants to compete again for the first time since the end of September.
In an interview with the German Press Agency, the 32-year-old girl from Kiel, who lives and trains in Polish Puszczykovo, talks about Christmas, their plans and thoughts about the right time to resign.
The most important thing first: How are you and your family?
Kerber: Fortunately, we are all well, they are all healthy. I’m fine, too, but I’m also extremely careful. I have minimized all contacts that I can minimize.
Now Christmas is at the door. What kind of Christmas service have you done lately?
I got some scented candles. You can’t get out big and you can at least make yourself at home (smiles). I really have to say, I’ve ordered my 99-percent gifts online this year. We’re celebrating a little differently this year, too. We’re going to celebrate in a small circle with my grandparents, my mother. We’re not gonna run out on all the aunts or cousins or meet friends. The most important thing is that everyone stays healthy.
Usually you often sit on the plane to Australia on the second Christmas day. This time the Australian Open is moved to the 8th of February, the beginning of the season is early January in Abu Dhabi. When will you start the season?
My new season starts in Australia. I will definitely play the Australian Open and the tournament before that in Melbourne.
You can buy the two-week quarantine in Melbourne?
Yes. Right now, it looks like you have to be quarantined for two weeks and only get out five hours a day. That in the hours we can complete our tennis and gymnastics units and then have to go back into quarantine. I am curious to see how all this can be implemented. It will certainly not be as usual for me to travel to Australia and be free from the first day.
How can one adjust to it as an athlete?
One can endure it for a short time, but for longer it is difficult for me. I couldn’t travel from one bubble to another. Because I just got to know it differently, with the emotions and especially with the fans. I miss that very much. Now the untouchable is completely gone, and so is the spontaneity. I’ll try to mentally adjust to that. Australia is always a special country for me, and the Australian Open has always been very important in my career. With all the gratitude to be able to play again, I feel, of course, that it is not what I know and what I actually miss.
When it becomes a half normal year, play the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, the US Open and Olympia. Fourth Grand Slam title or Olympia gold– what would you prefer?
If I could choose it, I would definitely take the fourth Grand Slam title in Paris. Of course, winning all four Grand Slams would be the I-cup. But no matter which one, I’d take it. What you have to say is Paris, Olympia, that’s so far away, no one’s even thinking about it. Now it’s about how we get to Australia.
How hard is the formal construction at the moment, if you don’t know what the coming year will look like?
It’s about continually training and moving forward without completely exhausting yourself. You have to extend the training phase. This is difficult and also a challenge for me. On the other hand, you can adjust your training weeks in the way that suits you best and in the meantime also use days for regeneration.
Is it more difficult than usual to keep the motivation?
Jein. Of course, it’s more difficult because much is uncertain. One trains, exercises and at the end of the day is often not clear what one is actually training for. As last time we discussed the Australian Open, which is now taking place but which must be postponed. The next few months and the tournament calendar are still open. Keeping the motivation high is an art. When the time comes, you have to switch to tournament mode, and I think I’m experienced enough to get that. Lucky for me, I have a good team and we’re having a good time. We’re the Corona team, so to speak. While it is clear that we cannot meet with other people left and right.
Julia Gorges has ended her career in the Corona crisis surprisingly. She says she doesn’t miss tennis. How close have you been to such a step in the last few months?
Of course it is a pity that after Anna-Lena Green Field also Jule has taken the step. I feel like all my friends are already retired, including Ana (Note: Ivanovic) and Aga (Radwanska). Of course, I’ve also learned to appreciate life away from the tour in the Corona era. The thoughts are there, of course. But I trust my heart and my feelings. As long as I enjoy tennis, I am physically able to bring my performance, it is what I love and belong to. I have decided to prepare myself as best I can and look forward to Australia. The moment will come, it may come soon, or it won’t. I don’t know. I have to see how it goes. The limitations of playing without fans- that’s extreme and takes a lot of what I enjoy about my profession. I can already feel that.
Is 2021 going to be your last season?
I don’t want to say that so concretely yet. I pushed the thought away. But once you think about it, you can’t erase it either. I’ll feel it someday. I’ll make the decision for myself. Anyone who knows me knows when I make such a decision, it is well thought out.
About the person: Angelique Kerber (32) was the first German Grand Slam winner since Steffi Graf when she won the Australian Open 2016. It followed in the same year of the triumph at the US Open, 2018 she won Wimbledon. The Kielerin resident in the Polish Puszczykowo currently occupies place 25 in the world ranking list.