Angelique Kerber, former number one in the tennis world rankings, has been on the tennis court since she was three years old. Her family taught her early on to listen to her own voice and do what she loves, no matter what others say.
She sets herself clear goals and works hard.
Her career has been marked by ups and downs, from which she learned and drew her strength. Because, even when others have already given up on her, she always fights her way back, in line with her famous cheer: "Come on!"
Her work ethic, love of tennis and mental strength pay off. She knows what she wants and keeps her aims firmly in mind. In 2016, she won two Grand Slams, a silver medal at the Rio Olympics, became the world number one and finally fulfilled her childhood dream of winning Wimbledon in 2018.
In The Art of Drive, she shares with us how she visualises her goals and builds her mental strength:
Staying focused in the moment
“As a tennis player, I am on my own on the court. A lot of things hit you at the same time: the pressure to perform, the opponent, the next shot and the expectations from outside. Over the years, I have learned to deal with the pressure and improve my mental strength. Just before I go out on the court, I do breathing exercises to calm and ground myself. During the game, I often shout: “Come on!” This has become my personal mantra. It's like a focus switch for myself. I then block out everything around me and don't get distracted. I remind myself to trust myself and know what to do next. It helps me to focus and concentrate fully on the moment and my goal of winning the game.”
Love what you do and set yourself clear goals
“It was my grandparents who taught me: know what you want, set goals and work hard, even when things get uncomfortable. That still has an effect today. Even as a child, it was my dream to win Wimbledon. As a professional tennis player, my goal was to hold the trophy in my hands one day. In 2018, after more than 10 years of hard work, I finally did it. Because you don't achieve something like this after just two weeks of playing tennis, but through perseverance and hard work. Yes, even I have days during training when I think to myself, ‘Oh, I'd rather do it tomorrow,’ but if you keep your goal firmly in mind, you know what you're striving for. And that pays off. My discipline and love for the game drive me and motivate me to keep going. You need this mental and physical strength for long and difficult journeys.”
Coming back stronger from defeats
“2016 and 2018 were without a doubt very special years in my career. However, there were also many setbacks that I had to take in the last few years. 2017 was not easy. I lost a lot of rounds and I wasn't in the best shape. Of course, there are then many discussions happening from the outside. You are criticised and people don't really believe in you anymore. But it's precisely from such hard moments that I draw my strength. My goal is to come back even stronger. I aim to show everyone and especially myself: ‘Yes, I can.’ I don't care what people write about me, because I know where I want to go and I focus on the path. I always fight my way back.
I can advise everyone to draw strength from defeats, to always believe in yourself and to go your very own way, no matter what others say. I had to learn that too, and it ultimately made me the person I am today.”
Mentoring future generations
“I have learned a lot in the last few years and have grown beyond myself. I am incredibly proud of myself and thankful for my team, who help me achieve my goals. I would like to pass on this knowledge and passion for tennis and be a mentor for the younger generation. I am very proud of the Angi Kerber Academy in my home country, Poland. The place is very special to me. It's a training camp, a restaurant, a hotel, so everything in one place. Everyone is welcome at the Academy.”
Be open to surprises
“There were so many moments when I surprised myself. I didn't plan to win my first Grand Slam in 2016. Of course, there is a chance if you work towards this moment for years, but in the end you can't really be prepared for it. You have no idea what to expect. But that's life, and life can't be controlled. You never really know what's going to happen next. That gives you the strength to enjoy every moment, every single day.”