Tennis Prose



Biofile Ai Sugiyama Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: WTA pro from 1993-2009. WTA no. 1 in doubles and best singles ranking was no. 8. Won three Grand Slam doubles titles, one Grand Slam mixed, six WTA singles and 37 WTA doubles titles. Held the record for playing 62 Grand Slam main draws until Federer surpassed her at Wimbledon 2015.

DOB: July 5, 1975 In: Yokohama, Japan

Tennis Inspirations: “My idol was Chris Evert, Steffi Graf.”

Hobbies: “Golf and reading.”

Favorite Movie: “Dead Poets Society.”

Favorite Meal: “Ramen noodles.”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Coldstone Ice Cream, do you know that? You can mix everything, vanilla, Oreos or cookie dough.”

Early Tennis Memory: “First time I beat someone good was Helena Sukova in Roland Garros. And that was my first step breaking into top 100. So that was my first memory, it was 9-7 or 8-6 in the third. And she was seeded. I never beat someone very good. That was first time I break through that.”

Pre-Match Feeling: “Just try to describe how I want to play. Like image training also. Like I try to imagine describe how I want to play.”

Greatest Sports Moment: “Probably the Scottsdale 2003 in the finals day because I have to play singles and doubles semifinal and final. Actually four matches in one day. Because the rain stopped play day March 3. And beating Stevenson in semifinal and she had three match points against me. Then I came back and in the final I beat Kim (Clijsters). She was no. 2 or 3 in the world at the time also. Then we won doubles as well. Playing four matches, winning everything is incredible for me. So that was the day.”

Most Painful Moment: “Probably my former coach Minowa he passed away with the cancer, that was probably the most painful day (in 1999).”

First Job: “Turning pro then winning the prize money.”

First Car: “My dad’s used car Acura Legend. (Color?) gold kind of beige thing.”

Closest Tennis Friends: “Only one I can say – Elena Likhovtseva.”

Funniest Players Encountered: “Kim Clijsters who is really fun to be with. We are also close friends I guess [smiles].”

Toughest Competitors: “Probably for me to play tournament, one would be Lindsay Davenport.”

Funny Tennis Memory: “[Laughs]…I also like to hit against the wall. Eventhough someone ask me Do you want to hit? Do you want to hit? No. I prefer hitting on the wall. Cause it keeps going, keeps going. Eventhough I hit it anywhere it keeps coming back anyway. I really enjoyed hitting against the wall when I was a kid.”

Embarrassing Tennis Memory: “I didn’t like to play on show court when I just started. Every time I have to play on the show court, big stadium Grand Slam at that point I was so nervous, then couldn’t play. I really didn’t like to play on the show court [smiles]. Now I love it but before I didn’t like it at all.”

Favorite Tournaments: “Not a Grand Slam, my favorite one is probably San Diego.”

Best You Ever Felt On Court: “Probably the day I won Scottsdale, everything really. It was a lot of tennis. I spend six hours and 18 minutes on the court that day. And I just felt so good. Because I was loose and relaxed and really good tension. So to me that day everything worked out great. Also the day I beat Steffi Graf. She was my hero too. When I beat someone like her it’s an incredible feeling. It was also San Diego. San Diego was lucky place. I really felt really enjoy on the courts when I play in San Diego.”

Favorite Vacation Spot: “Beach somewhere, not too many people around. Just lay around the beach, when I have some time play some golf.”

Favorite Player To Watch: “Federer. Roger. He’s really like art. He really can do everything, serves great, returns good, so smart, ground strokes, volleys, movement. It’s just unbelievably smooth.”

People Qualities Most Admired: “Energy. Energetic and the passion. I love a passion to do anything. I really have admiration for a person who really has a lot of energy and think smart.”

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