Pascal Ratthe/Tennis Canada
When you see children with their parents—a common occurrence this week at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers at IGA Stadium—don’t forget that you may be crossing paths with the next Aleksandra Wozniak.
“Monica Seles was my idol. Our parents brought me and my sister (Dorota) to watch tennis. That’s when I knew I wanted to play on Centre Court one day,” said Aleksandra in an interview on 98.5 FM.
For her, the dream was more than a childhood fantasy: she made it a reality. In 2012, she ignited Centre Court when she defeated former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic to reach the quarterfinals here. She was the first Canadian in 20 years to make it that far.
It’s that moment of glory and many others that Tennis Canada remembered and celebrated when Aleksandra was inducted into the Hall of Fame this week, along with tennis writer Tom Tebbutt, who’s kept us in touch with the sport for nearly 50 years.
A tennis role model
Before Eugenie Bouchard and now Leylah Annie Fernandez, there was Aleksandra Wozniak, who opened the doors of the WTA and had the merit of keeping them wide open with her success.
“Aleksandra’s determination makes her a true inspiration to all of us,” said her former Billie Jean King Cup teammate Valérie Tétreault.
She ranked as high as No.21 on the WTA Tour, won 12 ITF titles, competed in the Olympics, earned a WTA Tour title in Stanford despite Serena Williams standing in her way, reached the fourth round at Roland-Garros as a qualifier and has ten years of loyal service to Canada’s Billie Jean King Cup squad—a record that still stands and will continue to stand.
Unfortunately, injuries complicated things and forced her into early retirement in December 2018.
“It’s a shame! Aleks had everything she needed to accomplish even more,” lamented Martin Laurendeau, who attended the ceremony.
Pay it forward
For Aleksandra Wozniak, paying it forward is more than just a concept. It’s a commitment she makes every day.
Now 34, married and the mother of one-year-old James, she’s still involved in tennis and generous with her time.
And times have certainly changed.
Her father Antoni worked nights as a mechanic so he could spend his days training with his daughters in schoolyards and even shopping mall parking lots. The structures weren’t the same as they are today, and neither were the budgets.
Today, Aleksandra runs her own tennis academy in Bedford with programs for young talents, as well as adults and leagues to help players improve.
“I want to help by giving back what I received,” she explained.
Congratulations, Aleksandra Wozniak, for the unforgettable moments on the court and now for your knowledge and experience! It’s invaluable.