Fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, the 2012 Dubai champion, exited the tournament on Wednesday night to 17-year-old Cici Bellis but not before she sat down with Sport360 for a reflective chat about life on tour, her early days on the circuit, her post-retirement plans, and more.
Aga, you’ve been on tour for 11 years, do you ever get bored of the grind?
Of course I think for everyone it’s like that. It’s a bit too much. We’re tired, we’re traveling to the same places, especially when you’re playing so much. After so many years on tour, it’s always you get to the point where you feel it’s too much. But then I think you just have to wait it out until it’s good. Try to relax, do something different, maybe just have a rest for a few days, just try to get some fresh air so you can start over again.
So what do you do to get through that?
Trying not to do much. Just to relax, reset everything, get some good sleep, just enjoy kind of again normal life.
What do you hope your legacy would be when you choose to retire from tennis? What do you hope people will say about you?
I hope I’m going to be the one to be on top for so many years, the player that played so many grand slams in a row and played entertaining tennis for so many years.
Any idea of what you’d do post-retirement?
It’s hard to say what I’m going to do, but I have a couple of ideas. I think it’s always going to be something with tennis. I would love to play some legends as well. You know go the grand slams, see them live again, and maybe I just hope I can see in a few years more Polish players playing. Maybe the young girls are going to play, I would love to see them live. I think going to the grand slams is always nice because everyone is there, so you’ll see all the old faces and old friends. That would be great.
Any particular legend you get excited to see at the slams or on tour?
I don’t think if there’s one particular one, it’s just always good to see those people who were running with a racquet now in a nice suit.
What is your biggest fear or insecurity?
To be honest… I don’t know. I think I’ve got everything under control. Maybe about the health. You never know how you’re going to end up in one year. I think the worst is when you stop playing tennis it’s not going to be your choice. That something is going to be that bad, that broken, that you can’t come back. I think that’s the worst for every athlete, that it’s not in your hands anymore.
Maria Sharapova will return from her doping suspension in less than two months. Do you think she’ll be welcomed back to the tour?
To be honest, I don’t know. And for me it doesn’t really matter. I think you have to ask people how they’re going to react, but I don’t know.
So for you nothing changes when she comes back?
I don’t think so especially that she can really play great tennis after a year break. That’s what she did the last time with her shoulder (injury). I don’t think she’s going to lose the match rhythm. I think she’s going to be a dangerous opponent from the first round. You can play her in the first round, it’s going to be an interesting draw with her not being seeded. But yes, for sure it’s not going to be a good draw.
Any younger players who have impressed you in particular, there are quite a few teenagers in the draw here in Dubai?
Osaka can play really adult tennis, she can really hit the ball, she knows how to play tennis for sure – a very dangerous opponent. Bellis, I’m not really sure about her. For me it was so weird that kind of she was between tennis and studying, that was kind of weird. I think when you’re playing tennis, you want to play full. Of course that’s what she finally decided to do, but I think you have to make that decision many years before that. We’ll see how she’s going to do.
When you were younger on tour, did you make friends easily and adjust quickly? How was it for you early on?
You know what I remember? I don’t know if it was my first year or second year on tour, I was the young one coming up, didn’t really know anyone that much. But I remember Jelena Jankovic being No1 and she was always so nice. You know, when she can talk, she can talk one hour and you’re late for everything, because she’s still talking and talking. And I remember her being No1 and I was the one just kind of coming up, and you couldn’t tell that she was the world No1 and I’m the one so far behind. That was so nice of her.