That was the reaction of Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova when she entered the main interview room at Wimbledon to give her pre-tournament press conference. The new Czech champion turned to the host and asked if she could take a photo to commemorate the moment.
It’s not that Krejcikova was never in Wimbledon’s iconic main interview room. She won the doubles title with Katerina Siniakova in 2018 and the duo held their champions press conference there.
But it was different. Now Roland Garros champion and ranked No. 17, the 25-year-old is expected to make her main draw debut at Wimbledon on Tuesday, facing Danish teenager Clara Tauson. She has made four qualifying matches in the past, but Wimbledon qualifiers are later played in Roehampton. Krejcikova has never played a singles match at the All England Club.
It’s an unusual set of circumstances: A reigning major champion doing pre-tournament press in the main interview room, in a major she’s never played. But sailing in uncharted territory is what Krejcikova does.
“I think you can see I’m actually feeling pretty nervous,” Krejcikova told reporters on Media Day at Wimbledon. “I can’t really put the right words together because it’s all so new and it’s all really exciting and special.
“It’s also stressful,” she laughs. “I didn’t expect that to happen. Now I am here. “
After her dream run to the Roland Garros title, where she became the first woman since Mary Pierce in 2000 to win the singles and doubles titles, Krejcikova returned home to the Czech Republic for a rest and recovery. deserved. Once back on the training ground to prepare for Wimbledon, she said she was focused on maintaining a grounded perspective.
“I feel that people see me differently,” Krejcikova said. “I think maybe they have higher expectations and everything. But for me right now, I just think I shouldn’t be pressuring myself anymore. I pretty much accomplished everything I ever wanted.
“I always appreciate the fact that I was able to win a Slam in singles. It was something that I always wanted. I never really said it out loud because I wasn’t expecting it. Plus, I didn’t want to put extra pressure on myself.
“Now it has happened, so I still appreciate it. That’s how I’m approaching time right now. “
Yesterday we were still in Eastbourne and today we are there. Put on work and have fun. And there are definitely strawberries involved. Hi @Wimbledon, happy to see you again. pic.twitter.com/EMALSG1Kbv
– Iga Świątek (@iga_swiatek) June 25, 2021
Krejcikova is not the only player to return to Wimbledon with new expectations. The last time the doors of the All England Club greeted fans on the pitch in the summer of 2019, Iga Swiatek, Bianca Andreescu and Sofia Kenin had yet to become big champions. Now they are three of the Top 8 seeds.
But their success over the past two seasons away from the grass doesn’t necessarily translate immediately to the natural surface. For most players, it takes games and time to learn how to thrive on the grass. Like Krejcikova, Swiatek and Andreescu are also on the hunt for their first All England Club wins.
“About this tournament and playing for the first time, without really having any experience, going quickly from clay to grass, it’s all new, it’s all different,” said Krejcikova. “By playing on clay, I grew up on clay, so I like to play on clay. I haven’t really played that many matches on the grass. I have never played the main draw here. Everything is new.
“But I’m just trying to have fun. I’m just trying to take advantage of it. I’m just trying to improve myself. I just feel like so far I really don’t know what to do on the grass yet. know how to use my photos. I still have a little time to find out. “
Swiatek has spoken openly about his lack of comfort on the grass. Already with two titles to her credit in 2021, the 2018 Wimbledon junior champion says she is keeping her expectations low given the quick two-week turnaround from Paris and her lack of experience. After all, his first main draw victory on turf only came last week in Eastbourne’s first round.
Eastbourne Media Day: Swiatek having a ball on the grass
“Even though I’m the seventh seed, I don’t put more pressure on myself because I know I have no experience,” Swiatek told reporters on Media Day. She will face Hsieh Su-Wei on Monday in the first round. “I’m just trying to learn as much as possible. I am aware that I haven’t been training on grass for a long time because I played in the doubles finals at Roland Garros.
“It’s an important part of the season, but it’s more important for me to learn and not get huge results because I think the work I’m going to do here is going to pay off in a few years. . the experience mainly on the grass. “
“Maybe my tennis won’t be as good as at other tournaments, but I feel good and I’m quite happy to be here and have the opportunity. “
Like Swiatek, Andreescu is also coming off his first main draw victory on turf last week at Eastbourne. The Canadian star, who is only making his second main draw at Wimbledon, is the No. 5 seed. She, too, is still learning how the different pieces of her creative play fit on the grass – the surface neutralizes her taller, deeper balls – but Wimbledon remains a special place for her. It was there that she made her major debut four years ago.
“I remember when I qualified I played really well in qualifying,” said Andreescu. “It was off-site. And then the main draw came along, and I was super overwhelmed by everything. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh I’m playing my first Grand Slam and it’s Wimbledon. “
“I got screamed, like 2 and 2. But I just remember coming out of that game, even though I played like absolute shit I was so happy to be there. Andreescu will open her campaign at Wimbledon on Tuesday against France’s Alizé Cornet. “
‘Fun’ was the word of the day on Wimbledon Media Day. After the tournament was canceled last year, players are just thrilled to be back at the All England Club, wearing all-white clothes and reveling in the calm of what many consider the most prestigious event of the tour.
“It’s actually pretty cool because I can play without any expectations,” Swiatek said. “After all this hustle and bustle during the clay season, during Roland Garros, when I was playing as the defending champion, it’s just easier actually. I appreciate it. “
As Krejcikova prepares for her singles debut at Wimbledon – she is also the seed with Siniakova in doubles – she has received advice from Czech greats in her corner like Martina Navratilova and Jan Kodes. They advised her to take the time to enjoy her success and stick with the work she has done throughout her remarkable rise.
“Of course when I go out there on the pitch maybe things won’t go well for me,” Krejcikova said. “I’m just going to go fight. I know how to fight. I am ready for this.
“For me, it doesn’t matter if I’m going to play well or if I’m not going to play well. The most important thing is to improve as a tennis player but also as a person.
“I know that if I’m going to fight and do everything I can, especially mentally, it will be victory for me. ”