the article that belongs to the pictures (translated from Jana magazine, published after fed cup win)
The story of two loves
She is youthfull, full of energy and very very much in love Ė in tennis and in twelve year old Tim, son she was prepared to give up tennis for.
When Tim was born there was nothing that would mean more to me than him. Something I wouldnít believe before, if somebody told me, happened: nothing else was aroung me. For me to give up tennis, no not me - never. But it happend. One year there was just Tim. That was the best moment of my life and nothing can compare to it.
- Even some new big tennis victory not?
No, not even that. Really. I only regret not having more children.
- One year after delivery again tennis?
No, Tim and tennis! I just took him with me to competitions around the world. And donít ask me if he was a hinderance Ė no, he was my big encouragement.
- Is he also a tennis talent?
He is in the age when he is interested in lots of sports, he plays tennis too, but he doesnít show any special ambitions to do it professionaly Ė not that. I was a talent and a worker, he does everything to a certain limit.
- But lots of times parents, with their example and ambitions influence their children!
I am not like that. I can help him, advise him Ė thatís all. I lived my tennis ambitions to the fullest and I donít demand anything from my son because I havenít done myself.
- You are somehow special because of two things: you havenít gave up ďätajeröčinaĒ (Slovenian dialect spoken in the east part of Slovenia, around Maribor, Celje, Velenje, Ptuj) and you are not getting old.
Haha, I know how to speak correct Slovenian with the Maribor accent. If you are from Maribor, it stays with you.
- What are you doing that you donít get old as it would be appropriate?
Not that long ago we had an aniversary of high school graduation Ė I donít know which one Ė and we discovered itís some kind of spirit you hold within that makes you young. I have been hanging around young people all my life, I remained active and the moment I would consider finishing my career hasnít arrived yet. Thatís it.
- How do you discover a tennis talent in a person?
You got to have a special feeling. You canít write someone at eight years of age and claim heís not a talent. That would be very cruel. But around twelve years it shows Ė he is having some special victories, but thatís not the most important; important is that he learns technique quickly, and they have to have a special hart for sports, that is hard to describe.
- Try anyway.
On the cour in the hardest moments, the champion will choose the best way of playing. They will know how to turn the hard moments into their advantage, it will be a challenge for them. The psihologycal aspect is important: the champion or unique talent never has a hard time coming to practice, for them itís the greatest punishment if they canít come.
- What do you say to a boy or a girl or their parents, who bring them to you and have great ambitions?
They all have great ambitions!
- Why? Because tennis is a big business, because you can get ritch because of it? Is that the main motive?
Sadly there is more and more of that. Some time ago we made a poll between yoouth from 5 to 8 years and we asked them, why do you play tennis? ĺ of the children answered, that tennis provides for good life and you can make lots of money.
- But thatís true about tennis!
When I started to get involved in this sport it wasnt like that and even ten years ago tennis was just a sport, a beautiful sport, but today itís a sort of profession parents want to direct their children to to earn a lot of money. Everything is not so simple! That children that are dragged here by their ambitious parents, and they are crying Ė they fall of pretty quickly. You canít force them.
- How can you influence this kind of parents?
I talk to them, I try to explain what this kind of forcing can mean. But I also tell to the parents of the very gifted children that their kids will have to give up lots of things, dedicate everything to tennis Ė even school.
- If we made a comparison between tennis when you started and today: Is it true that in your time the game was more of an Waltz and today it reminds of heavy metal music?
Interesting comparison, Iíve never heard it before, but itís true in a way. Tehnical aspect hasnít changed a lot, what changed are speed and power of the game. In my time we were more like ďballerinasĒ and this days tennis players work out much more, all muscles.
- Even female players?
- Are you addicted to tennis?
Yes I am. Still, when I go to Roland Garros every year, I get shivers down my spine.
- Could you still achieve good results if you played today?
Judging by Navratilova, who was my generation, something could still be done. However it is true, I canít imagine myself training 5 hours a day every day now.
- Was the decision to end active tennis career hard? You left while still on top of your game, many players donít.
I think itís not that hard to give up tennis. This is a sport that lasts 12 months a year, no breaks, and there comes a moment when you donít wish to constantly travel and compete anymore. I finished gradually, not over night.
- You went seperate ways with the tennis federation once, but now you accepted the leadership of Slovenian tennis team in the federations competition Ė fed cup. In the first apperance in the world group our girls beat Argentinians and placed themselves into 8 best teams in the world!
That was a nice challenge for me! Girls came together, eventhough there were lots of rumours that they are crossed with eachother, that they donít even say hello to eachother and that there is no chance for them to achieve anything. I didnít believe that and I was right. I was always convinced they belong in the worldís top and that was confirmed in Argentina. I am simply thrilled about these girls!
-When you won Roland Garros, French open 1977 you didnít become everything you would if you won today: ovations, crowd on Brnik (Ljubljanaís airport; well Sloveniaís only international airport
), receptions with the president of state, government, ...
Tennis was at that time not the sport that would be at the top of the list of sports in Slovenia and Yugoslavia at that time. A little was everything inhibited by the system, because tennis was the first sport here that was publically charactarised as professional. That was not wery appropriate at that time.
- Today you would earn a lot more with such a victory.
Today the earn in the first round as much as I did for winning. Times have changed and it doesnít bother me.
- Yes, but they are still talking: Mima didnít manage to break that magical sum of one million dollars!
(laugh) Oh, I really regret that!
- You said they you will leave tennis when one million falls!
True, but it didnít came and luckily I could continue for a while.
- How much do they earn today for such results as yours today?
Lots of millions!
- Why does this sport bring such enormous earnings?
It is interesting to people, companies, advertisers, It is sport of the masses, connections and acquaintances are made and strenghtened by tennis. If you want to be something you have to appear on the tribune of a big competition.
- So itís an elite sport?
In this way, yes.
- Are professional tennis players really the most lonely people on earth?
What concernes giving up things and isolation from regular life itís true. Itís also an individual sport in the hardest moments you are completely alone, with all your doubts, sadness, joy. I myself have traveled mostly alone, I was in a way secluded and if I had to do it all again, I wouldnít do it.
- From this aspect is quite a cruel sport!
Yes. I remember some of my victories that I couldnít share with anyone, because I was alone in my hotel room. For women itís even harder. Male players find themselves an interesting companion, models like to circulate around them. Female players find it hard, they donít want a short term companion.
- Why are Slovenian girls better than the boys?
They know exactly what they want, especially this generation. We had some boys, big talents, but they faded because they were not prepared to give up the temptations of life. To concentrate 100% on tennis. Because itís very hard.
- What remains when you finish professional career?
Thatís a big problem! It can be dangerous. If you havenít earned enough, if you donít have other education it can be quite tragical. That doenít only go for tennis but for all top sports and they should put more consideration in it.
- Many donít even finish an appropriate school!
True, but today itís perhaps a bit easier! Tina Pisnik for example is making her schooling with the help of a computer and itís going nicely Ė she studies and makes exams.
- What is your character?
I can be very controlled
(laugh). But I am always optimistical and in a good mood.
- Tennis, tennis, tennis and tennis Ė what else in life?
Tennis and Tim.
- Do you have other ways of enjoying?
I enjoy in both. In the summer I like to go sailing with good company.
- And how in the future?
(laugh) Tim and tennis.