CHAMPION SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW: LISA RAYMOND
Indian Wells, U.S.A.
by Matt Fitzgerald | 11.03.2012
Lisa Raymond is one of the most accomplished players in WTA history. After a successful singles career that saw her win four titles, Raymond has flourished in doubles, winning 77 titles, and is currently ranked second in the WTA Doubles Rankings behind partner Liezel Huber.
At the BNP Paribas Open, Raymond has triumphed six times, putting her in a tie with Lindsay Davenport for the most women’s doubles titles in tournament history. She discussed her success at the event and selected her three favorite local restaurants in this champion spotlight feature for BNPParibasOpen.com.
You’re tied with Lindsay Davenport for the most women’s doubles titles at Indian Wells. What is it about this event that brings out your best tennis?
I think I’ve had some great partners in the past, including Lindsay. I play really well in dry heat, which is part of it. And then the atmosphere out here helps. The fans are phenomenal. They love doubles, they are knowledgeable about doubles. Like today, it was standing room only out there and they got us through that match. I think as a doubles player, you cherish those moments. They mean so much more to you. For us to go out there today and play in front of a packed house was just awesome.
Having played here on numerous occasions, what separates the BNP Paribas Open from other WTA events?
The fact that it’s a men’s and women’s event and you get almost all of the top players makes it a great tournament. It’s so attractive to the players. It’s a great venue and is very accessible to fans. There is a ton of stadium type seating. And then it’s gorgeous. The weather is wonderful and when you’re out there practicing, and you look around, there’s this beautiful mountain that looks like it is 100 feet away. There’s really no downside to this tournament.
Last year, you came together with Liezel Huber, and the two of you really caught fire the second half of the year, winning the US Open and season-ending WTA Championships. How rewarding was it to end your Grand Slam title drought in Flushing Meadows?
I would probably say it was the one most, if not the most rewarding title I’ve ever won. I had been through a couple tough years and strayed a bit. I really had to find myself again, get fit, and get my life together. It culminated with partnering with Liezel and us working hard. A lot of people doubted the partnership and weren’t fans of it, but we stuck together and knew that it was a great business decision for both of us. I’ve always considering the US Open to be my home event, being from Philadelphia. I spent a lot of time in New York and had numerous friends and family there, so it was a very, very special day.
This season, you and Liezel are off to a flying start, entering Indian Wells with three straight titles. What makes you two such a formidable duo?
When we get in tight situations, we rely on our experience, and today was a perfect example of that. We both have so much of it, and I think that’s one of our biggest assets as a team. We’ve worked very hard on the court to be a great team, but also each bring our own experience to the table. Right now, we’re very confident. Teams are going to have to come out and play well, and take us down, put a knife in us to beat us, because we’re not going away.
In finding great success in both singles and doubles, what is it that drives you to continue competing at this stage in your career?
There are those couple years where I feel I lost out on. I feel I have a lot more I can achieve. Any athlete that’s competed at this level knows it’s tough to walk away. When you’re competing and winning, you want more. For me and Liezel, we want to win more majors and be the number one doubles team in the world. Another huge goal for us is the Olympics. Neither one of us have medaled before, and if there’s one thing that’s missing from both of our trophies cabinets, that would be it. It’s something we’re motivated to strive for.
Being a restaurant buff, which three restaurants in the Palm Desert area would you recommend and what is their best dish?
One of my favorites without question is Don Diego’s. I’m a huge chips and salsa girl. And they have great mole sauce, which is probably my favorite thing there.
I love Ristorante Mamma Gina’s. I’m half Italian and grew up with homemade sauce, so any of their pasta dishes are exceptional.
My favorite restaurant in the country was here, but it doesn’t exist anymore. It was called Omri & Boni. It was a small place on Highway 111 and it was run by a married couple. They unfortunately ended up separating and both started their own restaurants. I’m not sure how they are going right now. But back in the day, 7-10 years, it was definitely a spot I always went to.