I fell in love with tennis immediately. For my fifth birthday, I got a small tennis racket as a present and that’s how I started. Growing up, that’s what I wanted to do. It was my passion to go to training and I loved to compete and to be challenged. I just loved the game. It was my whole world.
I was born in Belgrade, which was part of the former Yugoslavia. During the war in my country, it was very difficult to train for many reasons. In summer it was fine, we had outdoor clay courts, which we loved — but in the winter, we obviously had to keep training, and the only places available to us were empty indoor swimming pools.
It was difficult, but I had great support from my family. This was a time when I had to develop as a player and I had to travel to compete. At that time, it was challenging to get a visa to leave the country. We had to take a bus from Belgrade to Budapest for about six or seven hours through the night. Then from Budapest, we had to get connecting flights — and all that in the cheapest possible way.
In every job you have to make certain sacrifices to get to the top and you have to work hard for it. Nothing is ever given to you. I constantly wanted to be better. I always demanded 100 percent of myself, and I was never satisfied. I wanted perfection. I think as people, we always evolve, and it’s important to do it with the right values, the right beliefs and the right motivation. I think that when striving for that perfect and successful career or environment, you have to have setbacks because they teach you, and they teach you sometimes much more than a victory.
2008 was a very special year for me. I was only 20 and I went from being a newcomer to reaching the top of the sport, which was something I always dreamed of, and it was happening so quickly. The previous year I had reached the final of the French Open — which I had lost, but by 2008, I won in Indian Wells and I made it to the final at the Australian Open.
All those experiences led me to finally winning the French Open in 2008, and becoming World No. 1 the same week. It was just before Roland-Garros started that I got my Rolex Daytona. Winning the French Open was a very emotional moment for me. Holding the trophy and lifting it up as high as I could and seeing my new Rolex on my wrist reminded me of all the hard work and belief that I had. It all came together.
This watch symbolizes my perpetual journey and everything that’s been put in, day in and day out. It goes on, it doesn’t stop the moment you win something. It just keeps going because you always want to do better and to improve. Whether it’s as a tennis player, a person, a businessman or just as a parent: you just want to be a better person every day. That’s something that stays and that’s what I think Rolex also stands for: constant improvement and consistency.
When I won the French Open, it just felt appropriate to share my joy with my team so I also gave a Rolex to each of my team members and engraved them with “Dream Team RG08.” When my husband and I got married, we decided to give our family a present so that they would remember that day in their own way. We decided that our mothers should have a Rolex, too, so we got them both a watch, and we also engraved something on the back… They were very emotional when they received them.
I wanted to have my family and my closest people to be part of the Rolex family because a Rolex is not just a watch. I think it’s much more than that. It stands for the values which we all hope to not only have ourselves, but also to pass on to the next generation. Just like we hope to do with our watches.