German Sabine Lisicki has worked hard to earn her place as the top female tennis player out of Germany yet admits that she will always be in the shadow of tennis legend Steffi Graf, who won 22 Grand Slam titles in her career and cemented her legacy as one of the greatest females to ever play the sport.
“There always has been [a shadow]. I don’t know any different,” Lisicki told the Sydney Morning Herald. “She [Graf] won so many Grand Slams, she was such an amazing player – the yardstick is so high now and anything below that is not good enough. I grew up like that but I put the most pressure on myself.”
The 24-year-old put together one of her best seasons in 2013, particularly during the summer, when she toppled top seed Serena Williams as well as Agnieszka Radwanska in a spectacular three-set semifinal at the Wimbledon Championships. She would eventually fall to France’s Marion Bartoli in the final, where her nerves got the better of her. She admits that she has learned from the experience and is a “stronger” person because of the loss.
“It was a huge achievement to be so close to realizing a dream,” Lisicki said. “It was a learning experience. I am a much stronger person on the court now.”
Lisicki will begin her season at the Brisbane International, alongside top female tennis stars Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova. The event takes place between December 29-January 5 at the Queensland Tennis Centre.
“I have respect for the player but as soon as I am on the court I want to win, no matter who is on the other side,” she said. “You still have to play your best tennis to beat her, but it gave me a lot of confidence to beat Serena, especially at Wimbledon where she was the favorite. You live for those moments.”