The Danish tennis star talks about family and particularly her father in an emotive open letter on The Players Tribune
Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki has urged her 11-year-old self to chase her dreams, savour every moment she spends with her family and 'first and foremost to be a good person'.
In an open letter published on The Players Tribune, the 26-year-old talks about her life growing up as a budding tennis player and the impact her father had on her life growing up.
"Let me just start off by saying, Dad was right," she begins. "He just was. Point blank. And now, finally, you realize it.
"Ever since you were three, you spent hours and hours playing sports other than tennis — first it was gymnastics, then swimming, then handball and then … soccer. You were absolutely convinced that you were going to be a soccer player when you grew up. But there weren’t many girls teams in Denmark back then, and Dad didn’t like you having to play on the boys teams all the time. He wanted you to be able to build friendships with other girls. So he steered you toward tennis.
"You weren’t sure about his plan for a while — you had to learn the game together when he started teaching you at age seven, and at some points it felt like neither of you really knew what you were doing — but look at you know. You just won the Danish junior championship for girls under 12. And you didn’t lose a single game in the tournament. You won all the matches 6–0, 6–0. You’re … good. And you know it.
"After the final, the TV reporters asked you what your goals were for the future. You paused for a second, looked into the camera and said, 'I want to be the best in the world.'
"So, yeah, Dad was right. Tennis was the way to go."
She continues by discussing the hours she would spend with her father and recalls him asking whether this was the choice of path that she truly wanted to take: "'Caroline,' he’ll say, 'I can do whatever you need from me to help you get better at tennis. I will take you wherever you need to go, and make sure you have every opportunity to excel. But I have to know, for certain, that’s what you want. You have to be sure. The moment I’m dragging you to the court, or pestering you to get up early for practice, everything changes. You have to understand that. But, if this is what you want, I will give you my all.
"'Is this what you want? Do you love tennis? Do you truly love it?'
"Say yes and he will make it his mission to do everything he can to help you reach your goals."
The former world number one delves into the consequences of fame, the impact of social media and the feeling of reaching the peak of her sport.
She adds: "Work hard. Find what you love and then be the very best you can be at it. But, most importantly, always treat people well. Be a good person, first and foremost.
"During the next 16 years, I’m here to report, and can tell you for certain: You’re going to make Mom and Dad so very proud. Always keep them close to your heart.
"You’ll be very busy. I get that. But always take the time to remember and appreciate how much your parents have done for you, and what they mean to you."