Anabel Medina started working with Jelena Ostapenko in Stuttgart end of April and less than two months later, her 20-year-old Latvian charge has become a Grand Slam champion.
Medina, a former world No16 in singles, who still competes in doubles, is one of just a few female coaches working on the tennis circuit. The Spanish describes herself as a “rookie coach”, but has no doubt caught the attention of many due to her successful start with Ostapenko.
Ostapenko, who has risen to No12 in the world on Monday thanks to her French Open triumph, is the highest-ranked player in the WTA being coached by a woman. Her mother, Jelena Jakoleva, is her main coach, and adding Medina to the team was an experiment that paid dividends immediately.
World No13 Kristina Mladenovic doesn’t have full-time coach per se but works with her mother Dženita Mladenovic, while No14 Madison Keys is coached by ex-world No1 Lindsay Davenport.
Still, female coaches are hard to come by on both the women’s and men’s tours. Medina, 34, believes women can be great coaches and it is not a lack of know-how or capability that is holding them back.
“In my case it’s like something amazing,” she told Sport360° of her brief but highly successful time coaching Ostapenko.
“The truth is there aren’t so many female coaches, but it’s not because we’re not able to do it. I think because maybe after our singles and doubles career, after a long time traveling on the tour, after that I think most women want to take a break and start a family and have kids and everything.
“So if they want to have that it’s very difficult to be a coach because you’re traveling for more than 30 weeks a year and with kids you can’t do that.
“So I think in my case I didn’t find this moment yet, because I’m still playing doubles, so I didn’t really feel that I want to be out of the tour so for that reason I started to try to be a coach. I think that’s the main reason why there aren’t so many women coaches on the tour.”
Prior to the French Open, the last women’s Grand Slam champion to be coached by a female was Marion Bartoli, who has Amelie Mauresmo in her corner when she won Wimbledon in 2013.
Medina’s initial agreement with Ostapenko was to help her during the clay season but they will now discuss whether they will continue their partnership.
For now, the Spaniard is still yet to fully comprehend their whirlwind fortnight in Paris.
“I think I haven’t realised yet what happened these two weeks and after I’ll understand everything. It’s very exciting, I’m also trying to feel what coaches are feeling because I’m a player and it’s different. It’s really nice and I’m really enjoying it. I think that after I finish playing completely, I found something that I really enjoy,” said Medina.