Svitolina: “Compared to the other players, my journey has been gradual"
World number 5 in the WTA Ranking, Elina Svitolina spoke to BehindTheRacquet.com about her tennis story.
25-years-old Ukrainian entered the TOP 50 already back in 2013 and didn't finish the year outside since. During 10 years on Tour, Svitolina already triumphed at the WTA Finals and reached no. 3 in the WTA Rankings. Now, she spoke about her tennis story.
“Compared to the other players, my journey has been gradual. I was always moving one step at a time, trying not to lose the momentum of improving my game. I played the $10,000 events, then the 25,000 events, and then slowly started getting into Grand Slams. Then I was playing on the biggest stages and trying to break into the Top 10 but I put too much pressure on myself. No matter what you are ranked, you always want more. When I was number 30 in the world, I thought, ‘If I am in the Top 10 I will be happy,’ but when I found myself in the Top 10, I was crying after losing matches. It never ends and it's never enough. I learned to enjoy every match, even the toughest battles. I have been a Top 10 player for over three years now. It is important to maintain a consistent frame of mind and I have brought this to my game as well," Svitolina said.
"When I was transitioning from juniors to the professional circuit, there was a lot of doubt. People expect you to improve more quickly and you compare yourself to other players who are the same age but ranked higher. You have this negative voice in your head but you have to put doubts aside and work hard every single day because in tennis, everyone works hard but only a few players show consistent results. It's very important to pave your own way and this will help you overcome tough moments."
"I think the toughest thing was that my parents were involved in my tennis. No matter when or where I played, they always followed. Parents who are really involved in tennis, especially when tennis is your career, add a lot of extra pressure. The mixture of pressure from my family and my own expectations was really tough, especially when I was losing first round and struggling to improve my ranking. My parents wanted me to win every single match. At a certain point, it's important for every parent to step away and my parents realized this five years ago. It was very important for me to establish independence. When my parents stopped traveling with me, I didn’t count on them anymore. If I lost a match, I only blamed myself and through this process, I found my own way. I still think about my childhood sometimes. Perhaps it could have been better if my parents hadn’t pushed me so hard. Yet these tough moments helped me get to where I am and made me the person I am today," said Svitolina.
"I have been on the road from a young age. I have an older brother who used to play tennis and we started traveling to his tournaments when I was very little. It was challenging being away from home, but when I thought about my goals and what I wanted to achieve, that motivated me. I would reset goals every few years so it did not feel like a constant cycle of traveling and losing, because I lost almost every week. I made short-term goals and long-term goals. Goal setting helped me stay in the moment. Playing in front of crowds and winning tournaments gave me energy and motivation. Tennis gave me everything I have today. I'm very fortunate to have chosen tennis as my profession because it taught me so much. Tennis taught me discipline, introduced me to great people and showed me unbelievable places. I do not take these things for granted. Tennis gave me my life,” Elina Svitolina said.