Jelenna Ostapenko, a 20-year-old Latvian player, reached the biggest stage of her tennis career. She played in the women’s singles final of the 2017 French Open, and won in her first opportunity in the finals of a Grand Slam tournament. She’s among the young stars who idolize the greatest female tennis player ever, Serena Williams.
Ostapenko was born on June 8, 1997 to Jevgenijs Ostapenko and Jelena Jakovleva, in Riga, the capital and largest city in Latvia. She has a half-brother, Maksim. She does not have a boyfriend.
Here’s what you need to know about Ostapenko’s family and her background.
1. Ostapenko’s Father Was a Professional Soccer Player
Ostapenko’s father, Jevgenijs Ostapenko, was a professional soccer player. However, it was actually her mother, also named Jelena, who got her interested in playing a sport. Her mother is also a tennis coach and she helped her develop a love for the sport.
“My mom is a tennis coach, so I was always with her when she was at the tennis courts, and at five years old I started to play tennis,” Ostapenko told WTA Tennis in 2015.
She is also proud that Latvia, a country of just 2 million people, can make such an impact on tennis.
“I’m really happy that even though Latvia is a small country, we can have good players and we can represent our country,” Ostapenko said in 2015.
2. Her Half-Brother Maksim Graduated From an Arts Academy in Los Angeles
Ostapenko has a half-brother named Maksim Ostapenko. According to her On Tennis.com bio, Maksim lives in Los Angeles and graduated from an arts academy.
Ostapenko turned 20 on June 8, just two days before the French Open final. She’s the first Latvian to reach the French Open Final. She was also unseeded at the tournament. She’s currently ranked at 47, but reached No. 33 in January 2017.
This is also her first Grand Slam Final. She made it to the second round of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2015, and reached the third round of the Australian Open earlier this year.
3. Her First Coach Was Her Mother
Ostapenko’s first coach was her mother, Jelena Jakoleva. Her father was also her fitness coach. Herm other introduced her to the sport when she was five years old.
Today, Ostapenko is coached by 34-year-old pro Anabel MEdina Garrigues of Spain. Although Garrigues has never won a Grand Slam, she has won 11 singles titles and 20 doubles titles. In 2008, she won the Silver Medal at the Olympics in Doubles. She also won the 2008 and 2009 French Open Doubles tournaments.
Garrigues only started coaching Ostapenko earlier this year.
“Her life is like this: Everything very fast,” Garrigues told the Associated Press of Ostapenko. “Hit fast. Walk fast. Talk fast.”
As for Ostapenko herself, she said she didn’t even expect to make it to the Finals. “I mean, when I came here, of course I didn’t expect I would be in the final,” she said.
4. She Credits Her Tennis Success to Her Years of Ballroom Dancing
Ostapenko’s family supported her interest in ballroom dancing as well as tennis. From the ages of five to 12, she was both dancing and playing tennis, before she ultimately decided to focus on tennis. She even won a Ballroom Dancing championship in Latvia.
Ostapenko has credited her dancing with helping her become a better tennis player.
“I think it helps because in ballroom dancing you also have to be coordinated,” she told WTA Tennis in 2015.
In a 2016 interview with the AFP, Ostapenko boasted that she could dance 10 different ballroom dances.
“When I was five years old, I started to play tennis. At the same time, I did ballroom dancing for, like, seven years professional. I could dance like 10 dances,” she told the AFP. “But then I had to chose one, like, tennis or ballroom dancing. I chose the tennis because I liked it more and I had better results.”
5. She Says Her Parents Didn’t Pressure Her Into Playing Tennis
In a 2014 interview with Tashkent Open Olympic Tennis School after her victory in Junior Wimbledon, Ostapenko said her parents did not push her into playing tennis. She just loves the sport and said her mother noticed she was talented when she was just 3 years old.
“My parents didn’t ask me to play tennis,” Ostapenko explained. “My father is also a footballer and my mother is a tennis coach and I always went with her to the courts. I started hitting against the wall when I was 3 years. That is when my mother noticed my talent. My parents have never pushed me and asked me to do what I wanted , but I started liking tennis and started playing , both spend a lot of time with me and I like being with them.”