The Czech Republic’s tennis star Lucie Safarova has had a series of close encounters with Grand Slam first place trophies, but has yet to capture one. Earlier in June, Safarova was beaten by Serena Williams in the Final Round of the French Open to take the runner up position. Watch the video above to see highlights of her and Serena’s Final Match.
Last year at Wimbledon, Safarova lost to fellow countrywoman Petra Kvitova in the semifinals, but this week she will be firing back to not just make it to that final round, but to win it.
Here’s what you need to know about the talented Safarova:
1. 2014 Was Her First Appearance in the Semifinals of Wimbledon
Safarova lost to friend and fellow Czech player Kvitova in the semifinals of 2014 Wimbledon after her 6-3, 6-1 victory vs. Ekaterina Makarova in the quarterfinals. It took the Czech talent just 58 minutes to beat Makarova.
She told Wimbledon.com when she heard the news of the semifinals:
Amazing, isn’t it? It shows that our tennis (the Czech Republic) is really strong, we have great players. I’m happy for my country and I hope we just keep developing more stars like that.”
2. She Learned How to Play When She Was 3 Years Old
Safarova’s father, Milan, is a tennis coach and always encouraged his family to play the sport. Safarova’s tennis career started at the age of 3 when she picked up racquet in an attempt to imitate her older sister, Veronika.
Safarova went on to become the No. 1 junior player in the Czech Republic.
3. She is Ranked 6th in the World
Last year, Safarova made her way up to No. 23 in the world since her debut in 2005. She has shown huge improvement and has been a tough competitor for the best players in the game. After her lost in the semifinals of Wimbledon in 2014 and then in the Finals of the FRanch Open 2015, she has secured a position at No. 6 in the world.
Click here for her career results and finishes.
4. The Tennis Association Gave Her Financial Aid to Start Her Career
The tennis association decided to support Safarova financially when she became the top player in her native country in order for her to continue her dream. She was also aided by a prominent sports agent in the Czech Republic that helped her to gain followers and support throughout the world to help fund her dreams.
Safarova told TennisNow.com:
Without that [aid], unfortunately my family wouldn’t be able to finance me, and I would have probably never made it. My father was a coach, but everything is expensive.”
After signing sponsorship deals with some of the biggest names in tennis, including Nike and Wilson, she has managed to earn over $4.5 million in prize money in addition to money from the endorsement deals and is having no trouble paying her own way.
5. She Dated Tennis Star Tomas Berdych For 8 Years
Safarova and tennis star Tomas Berdych were tennis’ signature couple up until their split in 2011. The two started dating when Safarova was just 15 years old and didn’t split until 8 years later when they mutually decided that they had grown apart.
Safarova said of the break up:
It was a first love which is always strong. I think we came to the point where it was just not going the right way and both of our personalities became different. It just happens. Our breakup was very normal. We didn’t have fights or anything.”
I discovered more of myself which was great. Since I was 15, I was sharing everything with a person and suddenly I was there alone. At the beginning it was frightening, but it was good to also know what I like for myself and what I like to do.”