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Belinda Bencic – “It’s unbelievable that I’m an Olympic champion now” – Players’ Voice

Belinda Bencic - “It’s unbelievable that I’m an Olympic champion now” - Players’ Voice

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It’s unbelievable that I am an Olympic champion now – even though the season started so badly for me. In January, I had to be quarantined for two weeks immediately after landing in Melbourne because there was a corona case on our plane. That may not sound too dramatic, but I wasn’t ready for the Australian Open and it took me two or three months to catch up with the level of the other players. From the event in Stuttgart in April, things started to get better, even if the results weren’t there right away. I played my first really strong tournament of the season shortly afterwards in Madrid, where I reached the quarter-finals. If you work hard and put in the effort, the results probably won’t start to show in the coming weeks, but maybe two to six months later. So winning the gold at the Olympics in Tokyo was the ultimate reward!

But believe me; I didn’t sleep at all the night before the final against Marketa Vondrousova – I was much too nervous for that. A lot of thoughts went through my head; I had already achieved incredible things, I was guaranteed a medal – but gold is gold, you get this chance once in a blue moon. However, I think my nerves improved when I came on the court and the final got started.

And thanks to my dog Paula, I had a lucky charm with me again. I have tennis balls lying around everywhere at home and when she saw that I was packing my bag, she put a bitten ball into it. I only noticed that on-site at the tournament, so from that point nothing could actually go wrong.

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It was a pity that I couldn’t compete in mixed doubles with Roger Federer. But I fully understand his situation; health always comes first. We are colleagues and friends too, and we always have a lively rapport. He called me when he made the decision and we talked about it. I can understand his situation very well; I felt very similar when I withdrew from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

I teamed up with Vicki Golubic for the women’s doubles in Tokyo. We’re both primarily singles players, but it was an honour to be able to play together at the Olympics. Even better, nobody expected anything from us, which helped ease any pressures. It really was a pure joy to share that experience together; we had so much fun and at the end of the day we were able to take home the silver medal. Roger followed everything from home and wrote to us before and after every match. Actually, it was like he was there!

I was recently asked how Roger is as a doubles player? I don’t have to explain to anyone what he can do individually. In doubles, it was surprising to me how easy he made it for me to play. Before our matches, for example at the Hopman Cup, I was a little nervous – but Roger has an incredible overview and game intelligence. He knows exactly where to stand, his volley is incredible, and so is the serve. I’m sure he could play with anyone and win.

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Roger is of course very much in the focus of the media. For me, the media attention in Tokyo felt manageable; I could lead my life as normal, opposed to a player like Kei Nishikori who can hardly walk the streets in Japan unnoticed. But I also think it’s nice when people associate me with tennis in public.

The relationship between the media and the players, which is not always easy, has been a major topic of discussion in recent months, and I think that is good. Naomi Osaka has talked a lot about it. Ultimately, it always depends on personal perception and where you come from and how famous you are. For me it was important that we received media training from the WTA between the ages of 14 and 16 and that we learned how to deal with it. Which questions you may be asked by the media, how to stay cool, how does the business work… We talked about it early so I feel that has helped me learn to deal with it. Ultimately, critical questions from the media are part of the package as a tennis player – that also makes it interesting and the media interest has ensured that tennis has become a sport that’s celebrated across the world.

I still have to get used to the fact that my name is now mentioned in the same breath as great Swiss professionals like Martina Hingis, Stan Wawarinka and of course Roger. The three of them have won so many Grand Slam titles, that’s another category. Switzerland is really spoiled with great tennis professionals and I am very happy that I can continue this together with Vicki Golubic and Jil Teichmann.

Now I’m looking forward to the US Open, although I don’t consider myself as one of the favourites in New York. Even the gold medal does not change that. In addition, those who are counted among the favourites in advance usually do not win the tournament! The women’s field is so open, only Naomi Osaka and Ash Barty have stood out in the past with consistent success. So personally, I don’t go into the competition with the aim of getting to the semi-finals or finals – that mindset just doesn’t suit me.

Follow Belinda Bencic on Instagram (@belindabencic) and Twitter (

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