Name: Jelena Jankovic
Date of Birth: February 28th, 1985 – Belgrade, Serbia
Residence: Bradenton, Florida
Plays: Right-handed with two-handed backhand
Current Rating: Singles – 3, Doubles – 110
Professional Status: since 2000
WTA Titles (5):
2007 – Auckland, Charleston, Rome, Birmingham
2004 – Budapest
2007 – Sydney, Den Bosch, Toronto, Beijing
2006 – Los Angeles
2005 – Dubai, Birmingham, Seoul
½ Finals (13):
2007 – Dubai, Doha, Warsaw, Strasbourg, Roland Garros, Los Angeles, Stuttgart
2006 – Strasbourg, US Open, Beijing, Guangzhou
2005 – Berlin
2004 – Linz
Doubles titles: 2006 – Birmingham (Na Li)
Mixed Doubles titles: 2007 – Wimbledon (Jamie Murray)
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The beginning of Jelena’s Tennis Fairy Tail
The story began on Nov 2nd, 1994 when JJ appeared for the first time in practice at the Tennis Club of Red Star Belgrade. Dreams and interests of a nine and a half years old Jelena Jankovic changed from playing piano and foreign language studies at the French Diplomatic School to holding a racquet every day. From the childish curiosity to play tennis, today we have a world-class tennis player who in only a few years crossed the long path from “baby steps” in tennis becoming a professional winning many trophies and titles.
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After six months of playing tennis, it was enough for this young talented girl to start her winning career and enter several local tournaments. The first tournament already showed what a fact is a today; Jelena was born to be one of the best. Her first tournament was in 1995 playing the National Yugoslavian Championship for kids up to 10 years old in which she managed to come to the semi-finals. When she was 11, she became a national championship for girls up to 12 years old but also winning on the prestigious Limon Bowl Tournament in Italy.
In order to become a star and continue her career as a champion, Jelena decided to leave Serbia and go to the United States in which she received better conditions for practice and development of her game. After several months of residing in Florida, Jelena received an invitation from famous Nick Bolitieri to convert a young girl into a “new tennis wonder kid”, as she joined his Academy.
In that way, extremely talented girl from Belgrade began her trip towards the professional career. Days of hard work and many repetitions in practice trying to perfect the shots brought Jelena into a new chapter of the fairy tale which continues as we read, actually, it’s in the best stage of the golden era.
At age 16, Jelena managed to become a grand slam winner. She won at the Australian Open in Melbourne in 2001, becoming the #1 junior in the world. She also played in the finals of the US Open and Orange Bowl. The following year, she became a professional and managed to become 197th on the WTA Rankings, with only 8 tournaments played. In 2002, she played in the finals at the Virginia tournament, in the quarter-finals at the tournament in Stanford, where she was defeated by the Belgian player Kim Clijsters.
Tennis experts started commenting on Jelena’s technique, saying that she belongs to the top of the WTA Rankings, noticing that she doesn’t have a weak spot and that she is showing one of the greatest two-handed backhands.
In November 2003, Jelena won at the ITF tournament in Dubai, making it her first title, and entered in the top 100 on the WTA Rankings. Once she fulfilled that dream, she went slowly, step by step towards her next goal- to be at the very top of the world’s tennis. She won her first WTA title at a tournament in Budapest, in May 2004.
The successes that followed were in 2005 in Dubai, Seoul and Birmingham. Jelena enjoyed Dubai, her performance was spectacular, and she kept crushing anybody who stood in her way. She defeated Serena Williams in the semi-finals, not even letting her win a single game in the first set. However, in the finals, she was only a step away from the triumph, but she lacked experience and luck and was defeated by Lindsay Davenport. After the Dubai final, Jelena became the 20th on the WTA rankings. Jelena ended the 2005 season as the 22nd player in the world.
The next year had an amazing story despite the high disappointments. The first few months of the season were the period of despair. She experienced ten consecutive losses, out of which nine in the first rounds of WTA tournaments. The desolation was so gigantic that Jelena thought of quitting tennis, but the wheel of fortune changed the direction rapidly bringing her back into Top 20 of the woman’s circuit. JJ commenced her series of great results starting with the third-round victory at Wimbledon against Venus Williams, followed by the final of Los Angeles in which she previously beat the Serena Williams, becoming the only player to triumph versus both sisters in the same year.
It seemed that no one could stop Jelena from that moment, but unfortunately, she experienced a back injury which forced her to retire from the tournament in Montreal and withdraw from the tournament in New Haven. Jelena then headed to Flashing Meadows not knowing what to expect at the US Open. First time after Monika Seles, Serbia had a Grand Slam semi-finalist, Jelena Jankovic. Showing her variety of shots, many opponents left the court defeated including Top 10 seeds such as Nicole Vaidisova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Elena Dementieva. In the semi-final contest, JJ faced Belgian Justine Henin ending her winning run of the tournament in a very close match.
Season 2007 – Phenomenal year of the tennis princess
- 4 titles (Auckland, Charleston, Rome, Birmingham – all on different surfaces)
- 4 finals (Sydney, Den Bosch, Toronto, Beijing)
- Grand Slam title in mixed doubles
- 7 semi-finals (Dubai, Doha, Warsaw, Strasbourg, Roland Garros, Los Angeles, Stuttgart)
- Jump from the 12th place to the 3rd
- Second in the WTA Sony Ericsson Championship Race
- Played the most matches (97) and had the most wins (75) on the tour…
- Received numerous awards, broke several records, played some historical matches and victories in the Fed Cup.
The season started in the most desirable way winning the title in Auckland, New Zealand. She managed to win 12 consecutive matches. The following week she was close to winning the title in Sydney having a match point versus Kim Clijsters, but unfortunately the famous Belgian managed to survive and take the trophy. After the Australian tour, JJ continued with her aggressive play.
She got to the semi-finals of Dubai in which she sprained the ankle versus Amelia Mauresmo. She quickly tried to rehab and come back on the court the following week in Doha where she lost to Justine Henin in the semis again. After tournaments in the Middle East, Jelena changed direction towards west playing the series of competitions in the United States.
Due to the back and shoulder injury, Jelena did not manage to play well in Indian Wells and Miami. Only couple of weeks later, she comes back in a big style “dancing Charleston” in North Carolina. She received the second trophy of the year on green clay this time winning in the last two matches against Venus Williams after a very dramatic match, and later on beating Dinara Safina.
The was no time for celebrations as Jelena left the United States right after her finals match. She rushed to Plovdiv, Bulgaria in order to play for the Fed Cup team. Thanks to Jelena, Serbia got a chance for the first time in the history to fight for the position in the World Group II. Jelena and her teammates gave a full effort throughout the tournament in which they won four consecutive matches. Finally, Jelena won a doubles match with Ana Timotic, girls started crying out of happiness, and then all of them jumped on Jelena to celebrate the success of Dejan Vranjes and his chosen team. All of them got a chance to gather again in July and try to beat Slovakia on their home court.
After few days of rest, Jelena started the series of tournaments in Europe preparing for the second Grand Slam, Roland Garros. Great results were made in Warsaw and Berlin where JJ had a good chance to win against Justine Henin but lost eventually in a very tight match. But, Jelena wins the third title of 2007 in a prestigious Masters tournament in Rome where she got to shake hands with the Prince of Monaco who handed her two trophies.
JJ beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in two sets and showed everyone that she can be dangerous on clay even though it was not considered to be her strength. Paris was expecting Serbian star to shine and she demonstrated great tennis. Despite the difficult draw, Jelena was on a run winning against Venus Williams, then Nicole Vaidisova, and finally Marion Bartoli. Unfortunately, the queen of clay was waiting for JJ in the semis where Justine was a deserved winner.
A great celebration in Belgrade where thousands of fans greeted Serbian tennis players, gave Jelena a much needed energy to keep on winning titles. The first grass tournament was hers, beating Sharapova in the finals of Birmingham. The following week Jelena was stopped in the finals of Ordina Open by Anna Cakvetadze. Jelena’s form was great, and there were high expectations from her. Unfortunately, she lost to Marion Bartoli in the fourth round.
Her body could not handle anymore all the rain delays, she played so many matches in the weeks before the Grand Slam, and there was a big lack of energy. JJ would not be a golder girl if she would not make up a loss in some other way. She played a mixed doubles with Jamie Murray winning unexpectedly and brining her first Grand Slam title as a professional. After more than 20 years, Brits had a player who won Wimbledon title, and as journalists stated „Jelena was adopted by local people“.
Jelena had to face another challenge before taking a short summer break. It was a time to play again for the national team, this time in Kosice, Slovakia. Together with other girls and their coach Vranjes, they fought very brave. Jelena stepped on the court playing against Cibulkova, the match that was portrayed by a journalist as a tennis drama, „ Serbia stopped to breath for a moment, fans were crying, those who managed to handle their emotions were hidding tears inside them, everyone was waiting for the long match to end in which the true tennis star earned a thigh injury. After almost three and a half hours of playing time, with the motivation that her country has to win even though she could barely move around, Jelena wanted to come out of the court as a winner.
There could have been big consequences, but she did not care. She found the way to win, tie the score between two teams, and her celebration will be memorized with tears on her eyes where several people had to carry her out as she could not walk. Despite JJ’s big heart and motivation to play, she just could not handle the pain and decided not to play the following day. Since then, Jelena is considered as a heroine of Serbia“.
August was a great month for Jelena. Both Justine and Jelena qualified for the Masters tournament in Madrid, the Championship where eight best players face each other at the end of the season. She was a runner up in Toronto losing to Henin again. US Open was successful as well as she qualified in the quarter-finals losing to Venus Williams in a tie-break of the third set.
September was another solid month where Jelena was the first one to beat Lindsay Davenport after her successful return in Bali. Eventually she placed second in Beijing where JJ lost to Szavay. Right after this tournament, Jeca as many Serbian fans call her, did not have much strenght and energy to keep up with great results. In Madrid at the end of the year she got sick and it was difficult for her to play as she retired from her last match of the season.
Jelena and her fans will remember this year as she won numerous awards. She was given in March the WTA award for the most improved player of 2006. In Madrid at the end of the year, she was given ACES award signifying her great contribution to tennis, humanitarian work and relations with media. The Olympic Committee of Serbia anounced that JJ is the best female athlete in the country. The National Tennis Association awarded Jeca as the best female player in 2007.
Jelena Jankovic was invited to become an ambassador of UNICEF, a role that she values the most since she will dedicate her time to help education of teenagers. Jelena is the promoter of several brands: Reebok, Prince, Hyundai, MONA. Our JJ considers education as one of the priorities in her life, and currently she is enrolled at Megatrend University in Belgrade as a third year student. All the great results show high expectations that the „Golder girl“ will shine even more in the years to come.
The new year 2008 started in Perth playing in the Hopman Cup together with Novak Djokovic. The Serbian team finished second, behind the American duo.