Power Play


Rolex has long sup­ported

the world of ten­nis; its part­ner­ship dates back to 1978, when the brand be­came the of­fi­cial time­keeper of the cham­pi­onships for Wim­ble­don. The Swiss watch­maker con­tin­ues to cham­pion women in the sport, se­lect­ing ex­cep­tional ten­nis ta­lent, in­clud­ing icon Chris Evert and new guard-play­ers An­gelique Ker­ber and Gar­biñe Mugu­ruza, as brand am­bas­sadors (known as “tes­ti­monees”). We caught up with them at the In­dian Wells Mas­ters in In­dian Wells, Cal­i­for­nia, where they spoke about how the ten­nis land­scape has changed, pre­par­ing for a big match, and how not to lose your cool when the game isn’t go­ing as planned.


Cat­e­go­riz­ing Chris Evert as a liv­ing leg­end would be an un­der­state­ment. She comes from a dif­fer­ent era of ten­nis, when play­ers had a rock ‘n’ roll aura that was unique to them. Be­yond the ex­te­rior, Evert’s game was elec­tric and in­cred­i­bly fun to watch. How else did she land those 18 Grand Slam ti­tles—among many oth­ers—and re­main num­ber one for 260 weeks in her ca­reer? To­day, she’s one of the most en­ter­tain­ing com­men­ta­tors on ESPN and we can’t stop lis­ten­ing to her. What do you love most about your part­ner­ship with Rolex? When I was grow­ing up, there was John New­combe but there was also Vir­ginia Wade, there was al­ways a woman, an iconic woman who was wear­ing the watch. I al­ways felt at Rolex, they treated both sexes the same way. They al­ways make good choices as far as the cham­pi­ons on and off the court. It’s not only about your ten­nis; Rolex picks women that have a great at­ti­tude and a great aura about them. How has ten­nis changed on the women’s side since you played pro­fes­sion­ally? On the busi­ness side, there’s more money, there’s more spon­sor­ship, there’s more ex­po­sure with TV and print, and on the phys­i­cal side, the women are train­ing harder now. In our day—in the ’70s—we didn’t train like Olympic ath­letes, and nowa­days, the women ten­nis play­ers are Olympic ath­letes. Yes, their rack­ets are dif­fer­ent and yes the strings are dif­fer­ent but they’re also phys­i­cally dif­fer­ent and it’s def­i­nitely a power game for the women.


At 22, Gar­biñe Mugu­ruza de­feated Ser­ena Wil­liams and she’s quickly prov­ing to be the one to watch—or in Ser­ena’s case, the one to watch out for. The Span­ish-Venezue­lan player oozes grace and op­ti­mism, some­thing that helps her keep level-headed. How do you main­tain a com­pet­i­tive ap­proach to your game without los­ing your cool? It’s hard, but it’s part of the game as well. You have to deal with that con­stantly be­cause you’re on the court and you’re very emo­tional—things are go­ing to be hard. You’re out there alone, you have to fight against an­other girl, but you also have to fight against your­self some­times: you have your own demons. You have to have ex­pe­ri­ence, to get to know your­self, and know that if I do this, it’s not go­ing to go well, if I do that, it’s not go­ing to help me. Do you re­mem­ber the first Rolex watch you ever were gifted or wore? Around 2013, I had a very good year; I fin­ished up 20 [in the WTA rank­ing] and wanted to get some­thing re­ally spe­cial for my­self. My dad wore a Rolex, my mom wore a Rolex and I de­cided, “I need a Rolex.” I went to the shop with my en­tire fam­ily and bought my first watch and en­graved my name in the back. I wore the watch in my first photo shoot with the brand. It’s very spe­cial to me and it was the first thing I bought that meant I had achieved some­thing.


An­gelique Ker­ber is liv­ing proof that with hard work and de­ter­mi­na­tion, ex­cel­lence can be achieved. The Ger­man na­tive got off to a rocky start early in her ca­reer. Fast-track to 2017 and Ker­ber is num­ber one in the Women’s Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion (WTA) rank­ings, putting her beloved coun­try on the ten­nis map once again. How do you phys­i­cally and men­tally pre­pare be­fore a big match? When I started on tour I was al­ways a player with a lot of ups and downs. I think you have to un­der­stand that some­times we can play badly or a sit­u­a­tion might come up that you don’t want. Speak­ing with your team and the sup­port of the peo­ple around you is im­por­tant. Ev­ery­thing can hap­pen all at once and it’s not so easy, but you have to do it and you have to make the de­ci­sion to have a bet­ter at­ti­tude. How do you feel about rep­re­sent­ing your coun­try in a sport like ten­nis? It’s an hon­our play­ing for Ger­many be­cause I grew up there and I was al­ways watching St­effi Graf when she was play­ing—she was my idol. Af­ter St­effi and Boris [Becker]—which was 20 years ago—it was tough to main­tain this level of ten­nis in Ger­many. But in the end we have so many great Ger­man play­ers right now and I try to rep­re­sent my coun­try as best as I can. I think af­ter what I achieved last year, there are lot more peo­ple tak­ing the record again in Ger­many.

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