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Ladies' semi-final preview: discovering Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber celebrates after defeating Sabine Lisicki and moving on to the semi-finals.
by Vivienne Christie
Thursday 5 July 2012

After a stunning run of form that saw her blitz past Kim Clijsters in the fourth round and outclass Sabine Lisicki in a tense three-set quarter-final, we know all about Angelique Kerber’s composure on the game’s biggest stage. With the German also finishing runner-up in Eastbourne, where she held five match points against Tamira Paszek, we also understand her naturally aggressive game is well-suited to grass.

However there’s more to the 24-year-old than her ability to grind out wins in the most spectacular settings. Here are some other facts you might be interested to know about Kerber ahead of her semi-final showdown with Agnieszka Radwanska.

A year to remember: A first-round loss to Laura Robson at the 2011 Championships was a low point for Kerber, who subsequently dropped outside the top 100. Resilience is obviously a feature though – by season’s end she’d progressed to her first major semi-final at the US Open to finish 2011 inside the top 40 for the first time. After two tournament wins and all-round consistency this year, Kerber started the 2012 Championships at a career-high world No.8.

Not-so-Poles apart: One of Kerber’s closest friends on tour is Caroline Wozniacki, who like Kerber, has Polish ancestry. The two players have formed a strong bond while conversing in Polish. That heritage adds another interesting dimension to her semi-final against history-making Pole Agnieszka Radwanska – another good friend of Angie’s.

Call her Angie: Tradition decrees that you’ll hear the German charmingly addressed as “Miss Kerber” at the All England Club; elsewhere she’s known as Angelique but the player herself prefers to go by “Angie” – especially if it’s coming from her mother, Beata, who is also her manager and a constant presence on tour. “I just know that if my mum says ‘Angelique,’ something is wrong!” Kerber laughs.

In the company of superstars: Kerber is one of seven German women to achieve a top 10 ranking, and has thrived under the example shown by the one contemporary on that list, Andrea Petkovic, with whom she occasionally trains. However it’s Steffi Graf who provides the biggest inspiration, the 22-time Grand Slam champion is the person Kerber would most love to meet.

An all-round good sport: Kerber’s favourite sport – outside tennis of course – is swimming. It’s a sport that comes naturally, too, with the young Angie winning several swimming events as a child, before turning her attention to tennis.

Success in any language: As a two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist and firmly entrenched member of the world’s top 10, Kerber is attracting plenty of media attention. The tri-lingual Angie is well equipped to talk it up too: she’s fluent in German, Polish and English.

When in Rome: Travel can become tiresome when tennis takes you overseas for most months of the year, but Kerber appreciates the chance to experience other cultures. One of her favourite cities is Rome, and as she progressed to the semi-finals of the WTA event in Rome in May, she also enjoyed visiting the Vatican City and the Spanish Steps. “That week will remain memorable for me for one more reason,” Kerber writes on her official website. “[It’s where] I broke the Top 10 for the first time.”

From shopping to sleeping: Like most 24-year-olds, Kerber loves spending time with her friends, with shopping and dancing among her favourite off-court activities. They’re exhausting hobbies too – her other favourite off-court activity is sleeping.

Musically minded: Maybe Angie gets her playing rhythm from the musicals she so enjoys. The upside to losing early in the 2011 Championships was the chance to take in Wicked, Phantom of the Opera and the Ghost premiere. By the way, she spent the majority of her last visit to London travelling by Tube. Somehow we can’t help thinking London has been a different experience this time around – not that Angie, in career-best form, would be complaining.

If she wasn’t a tennis player: She’d be a … tennis player! So passionate about succeeding in the sport she first started playing at age three, Kerber never prepared for anything else and is genuinely stymied when asked to name an alternative career choice. As her Wimbledon semi-final appearance shows, however, it’s working out quite nicely so far.

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