There’s a tennis player who currently holds all the Grand Slam titles on offer in her division but you’ve probably not heard her name mentioned much.
She’s riding high at the top of the world rankings, has a career Slam in both singles and doubles and has won the end of year Single Masters event for the last two years.
And 22-year-old Diede De Groot shows no sign of stopping her domination of the women’s open division at the Grand Slams anytime soon. She took time out to speak to our Gemma-Louise Stevenson…
“Before Roland Garros the potential of me being able to say I hold every Grand Slam title at the same time, singles and doubles, in the women’s open division after it was on everyone’s mind except mine I think,” the World No.1 explained. “Everyone was telling me how it was a possibility but for me, it was all about playing well and I think that’s what I did all week.”
De Groot puts down a lot of her success to learning from her previous experiences and getting the right mindset in place on big occasions.
Something which was really evident as she stormed to victory earlier this month at Roland Garros, claiming her first French Open singles title to add to her Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open ones.
At the 2018 event, she went up a set up against Yui Kamiji, a player with whom she has quite a competitive on-court rivalry with a week in, week out on the tour, but then allowed the Japanese number one back into the match.
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In 2019 with exactly the same player standing between her and the title, it was very different and after taking the first set, she continued to dominate into the second and sealing the deal in straight sets 6-0, 6-1.
“Last year I played in Paris and I played really good tennis up until that one set in the final,” she said. “I’d got that first set, was ahead and then I just lost all of the focus and all of the good rhythm I’d had. But this year going into I knew it was the mindset I had to get right and I’m really pleased with how I managed to get that right.”
Influenced by a Legend
De Groot makes no secret of the fact that she is very much inspired by and has benefitted like many other children in the Netherlands from the input of another great of women’s wheelchair tennis and sport in general, fellow Dutchwoman Esther Vergeer.
Vergeer dominated the women’s game and went unbeaten for over a decade before she retired from the sport, and De Groot’s name is one she has mentioned when talking about the Dutch players who have the potential to grow the sport and the Netherlands success in it moving forward.
“I think the number of matches Esther went unbeaten and titles she won I don’t think anyone will ever achieve that again so I’m not aiming for that kind of unbeaten record,” De Groot admitted.
“But I do have a very definite goal and it is to be the best player I can be and right now I feel I’m really close to achieving that.”