World No 6 Serb tennis ace attributes her top-10 return to having equal fun both on and off-court
Birmingham: Ana Ivanovic, the former French Open champion who has taken more than six years to climb back into the world's top six, claims her progress has taken her into 'a new era'.
Ana Ivanovic. Pic/Getty Images
Ivanovic, both modestly likeable and conspicuously glamorous, appears to have overcome some of the self-doubt and obsessiveness, which threatened to spoil her career after reaching number one at the age of only 20.
Reaching the semi-finals at Roland Garros recently has been a galvanizer of a new optimism for the Serbian whose climb up the rankings will enable her to defend her title at the Wimbledon warm-up event in Birmingham this week as the number two seed.
New phase in Ana's life
"I really think it's a new era in my career. The last couple of weeks have been really exciting," the 27-year-old said. "I am just improving, and getting better - and getting to be where I want to be."
What has made the difference, she reckons, is balance. "When I was young it was so much about tennis, and not really having time off, not sort of letting my hair down, or enjoying free time," she said.
"It was more controlled by the team. It was just work. Now I've changed that. I do work off court but also enjoy myself — go to the beach and have a coffee with a friend, enjoy shopping. That's made a big difference."
Why it has taken so long to reach this happy conclusion is because, she admits "I felt guilty doing that!" Her brother Milos has helped her, she says, along with a fitness coach, physio, and sparring partner, who leave her with so much less to think about.
"They take care of things, and help me improve and have fun," she said. Her enjoyment is likely to continue today when she begins her title defence and her Wimbledon grass-court preparations against a lucky loser.