Jelena Ostapenko used to life in the spotlight ahead of French Open defence
A huge outsider prior to the start of the 2017 tournament in Paris, Jelena Ostapenko produced a stunning run to the final before battling back from a set down to defeat Simona Halep.tennis Updated: May 25, 2018 23:01 IST
Jelena Ostapenko admitted it took a couple of months for last year’s French Open triumph to sink in as she prepares to defend her crown at Roland Garros.
A huge outsider prior to the start of the 2017 tournament in Paris, Ostapenko produced a stunning run to the final before battling back from a set down to defeat Simona Halep.
Unsurprisingly, the 20-year-old Latvian has seen her life change dramatically since securing her maiden grand slam title.
As well as garnering more attention off the court, she also feels opponents have stepped up their game against her in light of her newfound status.
“When I won it last year, I realised maybe just a couple of months after that [what I had achieved],” Ostapenko said at a media conference.
“Then, I had to get used to this new status that I’m a grand slam champion. I mean, now, yeah, of course, I mean, it’s great, this feeling.
“People just expect more from you, and there is more attention from everybody. Also, from the playing side, every opponent you play wants to beat you.”
Ostapenko’s hopes of a repeat result this year have not been aided by a potentially tricky path to the final.
The fifth seed opens against Kateryna Kozlova and could face former world number one Victoria Azarenka in the second round, while Venus Williams, Elina Svitolina and Halep are also in the same half of the draw.
“I’m feeling good,” the reigning champion added. “I had some good results also on clay and some good wins. I’m just looking forward to my first match here.”