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Golden Girl

This year started off in the best possible way for Caroline Wozniacki. The Danish tennis ace clinched the grand slam win that had eluded her for so many years in January at the Australian Open in Melbourne. The gruelling victory over Simona Halep took two hours and 49 minutes and answered years of questions about her long-awaited maiden title win. Caroline had lost her two previous grand slam finals, at the US Open in 2009 and 2014, but in Melbourne she silenced her critics once and for all.

Now World Number 2, she is playing in one of the most competitive and exciting eras in women’s tennis – with the field wide open for the top spot at Wimbledon. Caroline is still riding high after her first grand slam title and enters the Championships at SW19 with renewed confidence.

“It felt amazing. It took a long time but the journey was what made everything feel special,” explains the 27-year-old of her win in Melbourne. Does it take the pressure off, having secured that long-awaited title now? “Yeah, I think so. I would have been proud of my career regardless but it was the icing on the cake,” she continues.

In the final game of the final match at the Australian Open, with victory tantalisingly close, Caroline says she relied on her training and fortitude to get her across the line.

“I think when you know you’ve worked hard your whole life, it’s at that moment that you need to trust yourself. It kept me calm.”

To be at the top of the sport, a competitive nature is a prerequisite and for Caroline her thirst to play started from an early age. “[My earliest memory] was when I was six or seven and my parents and brother were playing doubles with friends. I was on the sideline watching. I took a racket and some balls and started to hit against the wall so that I could be a part of it and learn too.”

Her father, Piotr, has coached her since she was seven and was one of the first people she thanked in her victory speech after the Australian Open.

This year, with the grand slam monkey off her back, Caroline is hoping to secure her place in Wimbledon history. “I feel excited! I love playing on grass,” Caroline says. “I love Wimbledon, all the traditions, wearing white and the great history.”

Wimbledon holds a special place in Caroline’s heart, thanks to the fans, the atmosphere and the surroundings. “Playing on grass is special. The fans are amazing here as well and really have a love for the game,” Caroline adds.

“I love the village, Wimbledon Village is so cute and has great restaurants. We like to go for a run and a walk around Wimbledon Common and I love staying close to the village, it has a special atmosphere.”

Before taking to Centre Court for the big games, she stays calm by listening to music and when the Championships end, Caroline likes to get into the summer spirit in the capital. “I love London, there are so many great restaurants and cafés. Last year we went to a Justin Bieber concert. The year before I went to see Taylor Swift,” she says.

In the run up to the tournament, Caroline is sticking to her tried and tested regime. “I workout on the court for two to three hours and then go into the gym for an hour, then maybe have a massage and physiotherapy and always get a good night’s sleep!”

Preparation is key, especially when you consider that the women’s game is more competitive than ever. This year, Caroline’s good friend Serena Williams is also returning to the courts after having her baby. “Serena is one of my closest friends. I admire her work ethic and determination,” Caroline says.

Serena’s comeback will no doubt have her opponents upping their game even more. So the stage is set for an epic Championships where even the top pundits are finding it impossible to split the top five or six players in the women’s draw. One thing is guaranteed though; this great Dane will be making headlines and hopes to continue her gamechanging year with another big win.

 ©AELTCCaroline on the way to her first grand slam title in Melbourne © Tennis Australia