No one knows better than Anastasija Sevastova what returning to the tennis circuit means, especially after a long break. The player from Latvia (33 years old) is on her second comeback, after a two-year break, in which she became a mother. She resumed playing at the end of last year, in November, and the Transylvania Open is her first WTA tournament in 2024.
She says that she cannot have high expectations and that she needs time and some matches to return to a high level; but she also knows that she has always played well in Romania: in 2018 she won the final in Bucharest, the same place where she was defeated in 2016, in the final, by Simona Halep. She was also returning then after a moment of composure; she had stopped for two years, due to injuries. She started from the bottom with Futures tournaments and fought for every ranking point. She reached two milestones in 2018, when she became the world’s number 11 and a Grand Slam semifinalist at the US Open.
We asked Anastasija how does the return map look like this time:
What are your goals and expectations for this week?
I always play well in Romania, I don’t know why. I have always played well in Bucharest, and I like the tournament here, I like the courts. I think they match my game. But it’s my first tournament, so I don’t expect much from it, I was also ill last week, my daughter got sick and we got sick too after her. Now I feel better day by day, I’m also taking antibiotics. But, again, it’s the first tournament, so the most important thing is to have a few standing matches.
How do you approach such a comeback, what is your mindset?
This time is different, because I can’t train as much since I have a daughter, who is still small and needs to be taken care of. I need this time period and I think it’s important. So it’s more about good organization and training 100% when I’m on the field; maybe I don’t train as much, but I do it efficiently. And again, it took me quite a while to come back. I didn’t return right after six months from the birth, she is one year and two months, and now she is a little bigger.
Did you change the way you organized your life during the tennis circuit and how do you react to the pressure?
Yes, now it’s only about organization. It’s about organization, organization, and when something doesn’t work right, it’s all about organization again. But it’s beautiful. It’s different. And also, when something doesn’t work out as you’d want to, when you lose, you forget so much faster. Because you get to go back home, at her, and you have to take care of her. You have to be happy for her, and you forget about the defeat in a second.
But I think that the pressure is always present. I also think that the pressure is not a bad thing. Because that way you still have goals. And during the match, you still feel the pressure to play well, but after the match you forget about everything.
Did you change in any way your perspective about tennis, besides the fact that you became a mother?
Not really. I still love tennis. I still think it’s the best thing I could do. I achieved a lot by playing this sport, I don’t think that there will be anything else that I’ll get to do at the same level. But you’re probably thinking more about the fact that you have other priorities now, after tennis. Something to look forward to. I had this feeling before, when I stopped playing. So now, after having a kid, it’s even more beautiful, even if being a parent is not an easy job.