Ana Ivanović, unknown to many fans of European football, is one of the world’s most popular female players in the world of tennis. Her talent for the sport has cemented her place in the history of modern tennis; even giving new fans the impression that she is not just a pretty face. Her skill during matches showed (and peaked) during her 2008 tour in the French Open where she won her first Major singles title and consequently ranked as the No. 1 professional female tennis player in the world the same year.
Dating German Football Star Bastian Schweinsteiger
Bastian Schweinsteiger was dating German model Sarah Brandner from 2007 to 2014 before he started a relationship with Ana Ivanović. But he broke up with the German model soon after lifting the World Cup 2014 trophy for Germany.
The two sports superstars went public with their relationship in 2014, mere months after Bastian publicly broke up with Sarah. The two were first spotted in New York after Ana Ana Ivanović was knocked out of the US Open by defending champion Serena Williams. The couple was since seen publicly together being intimate, confirming the speculation that the two were dating.
In 2016, in a seemingly quick-turn of events announced their wedding to the world. The ceremony was held in Venice, Italy right after the Euro 2016 and Wimbledon. A year later, the two announced that they would be having a child. Ana Ivanovic gave birth to a baby boy in March 2018 – the couple’s first child together.
How did Ana Ivanović become a tennis player?
Ana was born in Belgrade, Serbia in 1987. She first discovered tennis while watching tennis superstar Monica Seles. Seeing her fellow Yugoslav showcase a fluid combination of speed and power inspired Ana to take up a tennis racket. Her parents were supportive of her decision to pursue a career in competitive sports. Ana was sent to a tennis school where she developed her interest into a talent the rest of the world will recognize her for.
Unfortunately, the Yugoslav wars and the succeeding Kosovo wars tore the then-Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia apart in the 90s – just when Ana was growing up. The civil war came to a point where the United Nations Security Council and NATO had to intervene with safe zones and peacekeeping forces as the conflict swept through major cities.
The conflict within the former Yugoslavia was close to home in Ana’s Belgrade. Going outside was a daily risk, and as a result, most establishments closed down – including most tennis clinics immediately accessible to Ana. But she would not be deterred by the dangers present on a daily basis. She would look for ways to practice, even going so far as to practice in an empty swimming pool in war-torn Belgrade.
The Yugoslav war and the consequent Kosovo war came to an end just when Ana’s skill was starting to show. Ana Ivanović turned pro between 2003 and 2004 under Dan Holzmann. He would be the same manager Ana would have for the rest of her career in professional tennis.
Ana Ivanović the Rising Star
Her first major exposure to the big leagues would be in the finals of the Junior Wimbledon tournament. She went up against Kateryna Bondarenko in the title match-up but would lose 3 straight sets against the Ukrainian tennis star. Ana would continue her impressive show on the court in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Women’s Circuit by winning all 5 events she entered.
She won her first career singles title at the Canberra International – the tournament known to have produced two of tennis’ superstars: Justine Henin and Ana Ivanović. Ana’s title win during the 2005 Canberra International saw her rank go up to world No. 16. She would take this momentum into 2006 when she defeated 4 of the year’s Top 10 tennis stars namely Jelena Janković, Martina Hingis, Katarina Srebotnik and Dinara Safina.
In 2007, Ana Ivanović was already considered a breakthrough star. She seeded 13th at the Australian Open – one of the 4 major tournaments in professional tennis – but didn’t make it through the finals. A big break would come from Ana’s participation in the Toray Pan Pacific Open where she beat then-world No. 1, Maria Sharapova, to go into the finals against would-be tournament champion Martina Hingis.
Ana headed into the much-awaited 2007 French Open with a six-match winning streak. The rising Serbian star put on a show and doubled her win-streak to 12 by reaching the title match for the prestigious tennis tournament. She swept the then-world No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova and then-world No.2 Maria Sharapova to go head-to-head with the tournament’s defending champion Justine Henin in the French Open finals. Ana Ivanović continued her finals streak into Wimbledon and the rest of the minor titles for the remainder of 2007. She was ranked No. 4 in the world by the year’s end.
Ana Ivanović’s aggressive plays through powerful serves set the tempo of the game to her advantage. Observers soon speculated that she could be one of the next contenders for the No.1 spot in competitive tennis.
Reaching The World No. 1 Spot
In 2008, Ana would get her chance to be on top of the game. She kicked off the season with a strong showing in the Australian Open as she reached the finals but bowed to Maria Sharapova. However, Ana would not be deterred as she picked up the racket once more when she was seeded into the 2008 French Open.
The French Open in 2008 was a cup left undefended as reigning champion and world No. 1 Justine Henin announced her retirement 2 weeks before the tournament start. The spotlight was placed on other contenders such as the formidable Williams sisters and Ana Ivanović. But the Williams sisters would not endure as Serena Williams (the last Williams sister left in the tournament) was knocked out of the tournament by Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik. As the favorites fell, it was Ana Ivanović and Dinara Safina who was left to contend for the French Open title. Ana handily beat Dinara 6-4, 6-3 earning her first Grand Slam title and becoming World No. 1 soon after.
What Happened After the French Open 2008?
The Champion’s Curse in football might not directly apply to tennis but some things are quite similar. In the case of Ana Ivanović, tennis observers noted her form started to decline in the years following her Grand Slam win in 2008.
A slump was first noticed after her title win in the 2008 French Open. A sore thumb suffered from training weeks prior to the Montreal tournament bothered Ana’s play. The discomfort led her to withdraw from the East West Bank Classic in Los Angeles as well. Her withdrawal from the tournament knocked her out of the No. 1 spot putting fellow Serbian Jelena Janković in her place. Her injury persisted all the way to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, forcing her to withdraw. She stated this was one of the hardest decisions of her career.
Her slump would continue in the US Open of the same year despite having fully recovered from her thumb injury. She regained her No. 1 ranking and was the top seed for the US Open in 2008. However, Julie Coin beat her early on in the tournament. Ana’s loss was noted as one of the earliest defeats from a top-seeded player since 1973.
Sports observers and other athletes noted Ana Ivanović was suffering from an inconsistent form from 2009 to 2013. Most analysts noted that it’s her lack of confidence caused by overanalysis of her opponents. Ana’s slump in professional tennis persisted with her lackluster performance on high profile tennis events.
Recovery from Years-Long Slump
Ana recovered her form and re-entered the spotlight in 2014. She entered Wimbledon that year swinging but would eventually falter against grass court specialist Sabine Lisicki. But Ana would not let this affect her as she played the US Open and played against Sabine Lisicki once again. She would win over the German tennis player who knocked her out of Wimbledon just a few months prior. However, Ana would eventually lose to the tournament’s defending champion: Serena Williams. This is around the same time she seen with future husband, Bastian Schweinsteiger.
In 2016, Ana Ivanović announced her retirement from professional tennis. She cited that she could no longer play to her high standard and win big tournaments. She went on to say that it might be time for her to move on and begin a new chapter in her life. And in 2017, the tennis world honored her contributions to the sport by holding a ceremony during the French Open dedicated to her that same year.
To my dear supporters…. pic.twitter.com/9ycCamNela
— Ana Ivanovic (@AnaIvanovic) December 28, 2016
Ana Ivanović retired from professional tennis at the age of 29. This age isn’t considered old in the sport as other players of Ana’s caliber continue to play into their early 30s. We can even say Ana retired relatively young from the sport. But should it be a shock to anyone by this time? Ana Ivanović is considered to be one of the best competitors on the women’s tour; having won 15 WTA Tour singles titles and playing 3 Grand Slam finals.
Post-Retirement: Ana Ivanović as Philanthropist and Brand Ambassador
She became Adidas’ lifetime ambassador when she announced her retirement. Observers noted that not a lot of athletes her age have gotten a contract of the same longevity. Along with representing one of the world’s biggest sporting brands, Ana also became a philanthropist in the fields of education and children welfare.
Children with disabilities can shine when given the opportunity to go to school and be part of their communities. We can create better conditions for their growth and development. So let’s support them together! Watch @unicefsrbija Telethon on 16 December on #PrvaTV. Find out how you can help with the link in the bio.
Ana Ivanović became UNICEF Ambassador for Serbia along with compatriots Aleksandar Đorđević, Jelena Janković and Emir Kusturica. She has since appeared in popular magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair and TIME magazine.