- Full name Ana Ivanovic
- Birth date November 6, 1987
- Birth place Belgrade
- Current age 26 years 124 days
- Height 6 ft 1 in
Though she may have won more accolades for her beauty than singles titles, former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic is an aggressive tennis player with one of the fastest serves in the women's game who has fought her way back up the rankings after a dramatic fall from grace in 2009.
After being given a tennis racket for her firth birthday, Ivanovic memorised the number of her local tennis club and begged her parents to let her play. Her childhood idol was Monica Seles and she is a close friend of Novak Djokovic, and has known the first Serbian to win a Grand Slam singles title since she was five.
However, despite her determination to make it to the top, Ivanovic had to endure the NATO bombings in Yugoslavia, often practicing early in the morning to avoid them. She later revealed she used to practice in an empty swimming pool in the winter for lack of other facilities.
She struggled to obtain visas to travel outside of Yugoslavia to compete on the junior circuit, but when she made her debut in 2003, she went unbeaten on the ITF circuit, and by the following year she was runner-up in the girls' singles title at Wimbledon and had broken into the world's top 100.
She won her first title as a qualifier in Canberra in 2005, aged just 17, and she enjoyed an impressive season, upsetting a number of top ten players, including a third-round victory over Amelie Mauresmo at the French Open to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final.
Her breakthrough season was in 2007. Her first title of the year came in Berlin at the start of the clay-court season, where she beat world No. 4 Svetlana Kuznetsova to break into the top ten for the first time. Her run of form continued at the French Open, where she became the first Serbian to reach a Grand Slam singles title, but she lost to Justine Henin in straight sets. At Wimbledon, she saved three match points to reach the semi-finals where she lost in straight sets to Venus Williams.
Ivanovic started 2008 in a similar vein, reaching the semi-finals at Sydney before beating Venus Williams for the first time in her career to reach the Australian Open final. However, in a battle of the sporting beauties, it was Maria Sharapova who came out on top, having not dropped a set en route to her third Grand Slam title.
However, Ivanovic did not have to wait long to win her first major title. She reached the French Open final for the second year running, but this time she beat Dinara Safina 6-4 6-3 to win her first Grand Slam and top the rankings for the first time. However, after being knocked out by the wildcard Zheng Jie in the third round at Wimbledon she struggled with a thumb injury and was forced to withdraw from Los Angeles, and surrender her No. 1 spot.
The injury troubles continued, and Ivanovic was forced to withdraw from the Olympics in Beijing. She returned for the US Open, but was knocked out in the first round. 2009 was no better, and her season was plagued by injuries, and she failed to replicate the form she enjoyed at the beginning of 2008, failing to win a single title and finishing outside of the top 20 for the first time in five years.
Since then, Ivanovic has rebuilt her career slowly, claiming her ninth career title at Linz before going on to win the 2010 Tournament of Champions at Bali, raising her end-of-year ranking to No. 17 in the world. After defendind the same title in 2011, her slow but steady progress continued with her first Grand Slam quarter-final appearance in over four years at the 2012 US Open as she closed in on the world's top ten once more.
Following in the footsteps of her childhood friend Novak Djokovic, who became the first Serbian to win a Grand Slam title at the 2008 Australian Open, Ivanovic overcame her demons to win her first Grand Slam, defeating Dinara Safina 6-4 6-3 to win the French Open at the second attempt.
After occupying the No.1 spot after her spectacular French Open victory, Ivanovic was forced to withdraw from the Beijing Olympics with a thumb injury. While Grand Slams come around four times a year, she would have to wait another four years to have a chance to win an Olympic medal.
"Someone once told me that to be a success, you have to have a short term memory. You have to be able to forget about the bad workouts or lost games and believe in your ability."
"This girl has got it all. They're going to try to market her - but it's not going to be a very difficult job! She's beautiful, a great player and seems very committed." John McEnroe
In the run up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Ivanovic's face could be found on a Serbian postage stamp.
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