When I was five years old, my family made a very difficult move from Venezuela to Spain. My parents gave up everything they had so I could become a professional tennis player. I learned that sacrifices come with a reward.
It was such a long road to my breakthrough in tennis. It’s all about preparation before the tournaments because when we go out, everything is polished: everybody sees us on that gigantic court with lovely clothes, everything is beautiful, but that’s not real life. Real life is in the locker room where nobody’s watching, with the tears and fears before and after a game, and the endless hours of training.
Every time I step on the court, I know I have to be brave. There is a moment where you have to become fearless. It’s good to have fears, it reminds you that you want it. I love to win, I love to go out there and play and have a fighting spirit. I know there’s someone in front that wants to beat me but I want to beat her more.
Everybody has individual expectations and I think greatness is when you achieve your own goals — no matter how big or small they are. In 2014, I had a great year, I reached the fourth round at the Australian Open, beat my childhood hero Serena Williams for the first time and finally ended up being in the top 20, which was an incredibly important step for me.
Since I was a kid, my father and my mother both had a Rolex and I always wanted to have one as well. But my father always told me, “You have to earn it, you have to work hard and one day you will have the chance to buy one yourself.” At the end of that year I felt that that moment had finally come, that it was a great reward for what I achieved.
I wanted to get something that was as good as my year, something that would always remind me of this moment before I moved on to new endeavours. Around Christmas that year I took my parents to get my very first watch, engraved with my name and the year 2014.
When I look at this watch today, I see joy. I see me working hard for what I wanted, I see me being an independent woman. I see myself giving everything I have to catch my dreams.