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Aryna Sabalenka Becomes Former Tennis Player’s Latest Favourite for Making Radical Changes to Her Game

Published 03/05/2024, 9:18 AM EST

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The 25-year-old Belarussian tennis ace, Aryna Sabalenka successfully defended her Australian Open title early in 2024, giving her an excellent start to this season. She is the first woman to win consecutive Australian Opens since compatriot, Victoria Azarenka, in 2012 and 2013. Coming into this season, she seems calmer, which has positively affected her demeanor and game.

This feat is a testament to her resilient mindset because of which she has become a role model to many young athletes worldwide.

Aryna Sabalenka Is A Good Role Model

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Alexandra Stevenson, a former American tennis player, in a recent episode of her podcast series Serving Aces: Conversations with Alexandra Stevenson, welcomed her youngest guest, 11-year-old, leading junior tennis player Kareena Cross. As Stevenson navigates the mindset of the junior champ, she asks her about her favorite tennis player, and the 11-year-old is quick to name Sabalenka. She explains, “My favorite female player is Sabalenka, I just love her game, aggressive, she comes to the net too. Her serve is big, powerful. And she’s confident and, um, I love that.”

Getting a segway into discussing the current world no. 2 and her mindset, Stevenson takes it further. She explains, “And that’s a great thing, right? And she’s a good role model to watch now because she has her confidence down. She has her temper under control sometimes, sometimes, it is exciting to watch, because she’s a big hitter. And now in the last couple years, she’s been coming into the net more, adding a little more angles, she’s even added a little bit of a slice. So if you look at her older tapes from a couple years ago, it’s interesting to see how she’s gotten to win those two grand slams. She’s won. Because she’s added to her game.”

From the outside, it looks like the Tiger has had a dream run, winning and defending titles, breaking and creating records. Contradictorily in reality, the journey has been characterized by introspection, being honest, hard work, and growing up.

Read More: Indian Wells: Goofy Aryna Sabalenka Nearly Takes Off Her Coach’s Head With a Dangerous Frisbee Throw

Aryna Sabalenka On How She Learned A New Way To Fight

Sabalenka entered 2022 ranked no. 1 in the world, and her style of play, defined by powerful winners and intense competitiveness, immediately caught everyone’s attention. Her passionate celebration and the bold tiger tattoo on her forearm were telling signs of her fearless attitude on the court.

via Reuters

However, it took a season filled with humbling experiences for the 25-year-old to truly understand what it means to compete. Her struggles with serving during the first half of 2022 almost saw her coach, Anton Dubrov, walking away. These challenges forced Sabalenka to acknowledge her doubts and accept the harsh reality that talent alone is not enough to achieve greatness in tennis. This realization helped her clinch her maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open 2022.

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Speaking on The WTA Insider Podcast, she talked about how she learned a new way to fight. She reveals, “Fighting is about working when it’s tough moments, to work through, not get emotional, control yourself, and just think about what you have to do.” 

She adds, “Before, I used to think if I was screaming ‘come on’ and keep hit the ball hard, that this to fight. Now I have an understanding that fighting is to be able in the tough moments to keep working, keep thinking about what you have to do, instead of all the emotions.”

Despite setbacks, Sabalenka committed to learning from her defeats and making adjustments to her technique. She realized that true competitiveness stems from diligence and not mere bravado. Essentially, Sabalenka matured, taking ownership of her challenges and focusing her determination inward.

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Written by:

Anubhav Bhandari

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Anubhav Bhandari is a Tennis writer at EssentiallySports. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication, Anubhav skillfully arranges words to craft intriguing lines and weaves diverse sentences into compelling stories. Blending his sporting experience with storytelling prowess, he produces articles that resonate with readers.
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Edited by:

Jacob Gijy