Congrats Fleri/Xhaka, even if you only won cause Ginger lost her wig in that third set. Great tournament @Bartek98.
Congrats other winners. Runner-ups- we are clearly the superior group, so we have that going for us.
In the hardest of times, champions rise, new Clay Queen is born...
Just a little girl from a small town near Oslo, Sandvika, Piper Elliot always dreamt of having that Suzanne Leglen Trophy in her hands and devoted her whole career to getting it. The teenage phenom, worked her way up, without shortcuts, unlike some other teens that have been at the top recently, as Elliot steadily climbed the latter each year, and each year she reached a new milestone.
From the very first time in Paris, where she lost to Xhakalinda in 2019, the eventual champion, she swore that she would one day be on the winners podium.
Having reached three clay court finals this season, and winning the week prior, you could say that the Norwegian turned Swede was the top favorite, while she didn't think so, due to her poor perfomances in all of her finals in 2021, most notably the one she lost to biggest rival Frost in Rome. It was that final that gave Piper ideas what to do at the French Open, and one could say that losing that final made her who she is today, a Grand Slam champion and newest No1 on the FWTT rankings.
Having complied a 19-5 W/L on the dirt this year in WTA events, it is probably one of the better clay court campaigns in recent years, and Piper was beaming with excitement when she stepped into the press conference, hugging her trophy as if someone could run in and take it from her.
I: So, Piper, a Grand Slam champion at last! It took you 10 grand slam main draws to get you this far, how does it feel?
Piper: I am happy, I am extremely happy, so many emotions are running through my mind. I am at a loss of words, I have been ever since the three MP on 9-8*. I always believed I would be here, I proclaimed it after losing to Xhaka two years ago, and then again when I lost to Bianka in the semis last year and now, here I am. I can't begin to describe how much this means to me. I have suffered many injustices to get here, as we all have, in the last year and a half, but after last years USO I truly didn't think I was cut out for this and wanted to quit after. The universe works in mysterious ways. I have to give props to Jen Casanova for a great final and a great match, she played an amazing tournament, and executed the same tactics as me, I just did it a bit better.
I: Talk to us a little bit about the clay season as a whole, it seems it was destined for a Swede to take the trophy, as all three of you were doing so well since Fed Cup?
Piper: Yes, each of us won 2 trophies during the clay season, while I played the most finals and lost to both of them once. We had great energy in our team during the Fed Cup week and we really played as one and it really revived Xhaka's year, it gave me and Frost confidence to go for big titles, it was a shame both lost early here but I am confident in our abilities, and I am hoping for medals at the Olympics honestly, I think we can do it. It's no secret I adore playing on the clay and I am hoping to build on this for years to come, obviously my season is going to be centered around the clay tournaments as now almost half of my points come from there, but I am hoping it will give me confidence to do great things on the grass as well, and I would really love to win Slams outside of the French, now I am hungrier for success than ever.
I: If we exclude the R1 match, all of your matches have been tight three-setters? How are you feeling physically and mentally?
Piper: I am actually feeling quite fine. I worked a lot on my fitness, to be able to sustain high levels of play, especially in the third set where it is most important for my tennis to shine. I've changed my mentality a lot in recent years, on my debut year I used to go for broke a lot, and it helped me win some titles here and there and inch closer to the top 10, but nothing on the biggest stages. I've learned patience, I've learned to be calm and follow my intuition on the biggest of moments, as evident these last three weeks. I came to Budapest and Paris with a different idea on what I needed to do, and something told me that it wasn't going to be enough, so I changed my approach both times and it worked out!
I: You are going to be No1 tomorrow for the first time, what does it mean to you?
Piper: It means the world to me, and the fact that I won a Slam to do it, even more special. A lot of other girls have been damaged by the recent scandals, Bianka Harlow most notably, who could have had more weeks as No1 on her resume, but it it is what it is, now it's my turn and I don't plan on succumbing any time soon, these girls will need to win Wimbledon to take me down. I wish my sister was still No1 on the juniors this week, so we could achieve the rare feat of two sisters holding the top of the ranking at the same time, but I think we are still ones for the history books nonetheless, I don't think two sisters held No1 rankings at any point, but don't quote me on that!
I: Onwards to grass?
Piper: Onwards to grass! I am so excited to go to Berlin, even though it's not my best surface, I did manage to have a decent grass season last year with a QF showing in London. I'll be changing my approach to grass this year, I am eager to try out new things and new strategies, I was much to conservative in both of my previous attempts, so we'll see.
I: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Piper: Staying No1 for as long as I can, a medal at the Olympics would be fantastic! And of course, adding on to my Grand Slam tally, I want to be the very best, like no one ever was
With a beaming smile, Piper left the conference room and went straight to the airport to catch a flight to Berlin as the tour keeps on tumbling to a new city already!