| PARIS, June 8
PARIS, June 8 Ana Ivanovic is the newly crowned
French Open champion but there are some things even a grand slam
winner will not do -- like risk her chances of getting married.
"I better not sit at the end of this table," she told
Reuters as she arrived in a small room underneath the Philippe
Chatrier Court less than an hour after her victory.
As she manoeuvred herself away from the narrow end of a
white rectangular table, she added: "My grandmother says this
old story that if you sit on the end of the table, you'll never
get married. It's a weird one..."
Weird or not, she was not about to tempt fate.
Superstitions over, she was ready to reflect on the greatest
moment of her life.
"It was very hard to imagine this victory today. It's so, so
thrilling and so amazing. I still don't realise what's happened
out there," said Ivanovic, who beat Dinara Safina on Saturday to
become the first woman representing Serbia to win a major title.
Despite fitting in countless training sessions at 7am in a
drained swimming pool during the 1999 NATO bombings in Belgrade,
Ivanovic admitted it was hard to believe that less than a decade
on she would own the most important trophy in claycourt tennis.
"I never thought of it (coming true). Obviously I dreamt of
it, but if it was possible, if it was reality... I wasn't sure,"
said the 20-year-old champion.
While reaching the French Open final 12 months ago and the
Australian Open finale in January brought her within one match
of making her dream a reality, she admitted another factor
played a part.
Twenty five days ago, Ivanovic was getting ready to go on
court for her second round match at the Italian Open in Rome
when she suddenly heard that Justine Henin had quit the sport.
While the news was completely unexpected, since Henin would
have been the overwhelming favourite to win the Roland Garros
title for the fifth time in six years, it gave Ivanovic a
glimmer of hope.
"I started thinking, hey maybe I can become number one but
it was too much for me," said Ivanovic, who admitted she was so
distracted by the news she ended up losing the match in Rome.
"I (then told myself) just forget about it and go back to
enjoying the tennis and enjoy competing like I always used to
do. Because if you play well the ranking will come.
"It was very tough for me before coming to Paris and I
really struggled because I found it really hard to deal with the
expectations and the pressure.
"I tried to find something that helps to calm me down and
just be in the moment. With my fitness coach we worked a lot on
breathing and trying control the negative thoughts.
"I was really very proud how I managed to change from two
weeks before the tournament and now so it was a huge step for
After fulfilling a life-long dream, Ivanovic remained
confident that success would not change her.
"Growing up and starting to play on a professional tour I
saw a lot of people change once they've had success," said
Ivanovic, who will replace Maria Sharapova as the new number one
when the rankings are released on Monday.
"So I always said I really don't want to be that person I
always say to the team around me and to my family, 'look if I
start acting weird, just pinch me and bring me back' I think
it's important to be same person."
Had anyone pinched her yet? "Nope, so far so good."
(Editing by Dave Thompson)