Ana Ivanovic comes to Upper Austria Ladies Linz as guest of honour

A "darling" of the Linz tennis public returns! The former world number one and two-time Linz winner Ana Ivanovic will be the guest of honour at this year's Upper Austria Ladies Linz final weekend. Tennis fans at the Linz Design Centre can look forward to autograph sessions with the Serbian, among other things.

Ana Ivanovic captured the hearts of tennis fans in Linz from the very first moment. She epitomises all the requirements needed to become a world star - and at the same time "everybody's darling". As tournament director Sandra Reichel once said about Ivanovic: "Ana is a model player - and very likeable." The Serbian has won the women's tennis classic in Linz twice: in 2008 with a final victory over Vera Zvonareva (6:2, 6:1) and in 2010 against Switzerland's Patty Schnyder 6:1, 6:2. Angelique Kerber thwarted her on her way to a third win in 2013. The German won the final against Ivanovic 6:4, 7:6.

There's plenty to talk about at the reunion with guest of honour Ana Ivanovic. In the interview, the 36-year-old talks about her special memories of Linz, why the tournament has earned its upgrade to 500 status and what she and her family like about living in Austria. She has a house in Austria with her husband, German football world champion Bastian Schweinsteiger, and their three sons. 

What are your favourite memories of the tournament in Linz? 
Ana Ivanovic: "Of course, I immediately think of my title wins. I remember a funny moment in the final against Vera Zvonareva in 2008 when a man painted us during the match and the winner got the picture. I still have the picture at home! It was a very cool and special memory. The Players' Parties were always great too."

There is a famous quote in Linz that says: "It all starts in Linz". Was there something that started for you here in Linz? 
Ivanovic: "It probably sounds strange, but I think I felt most connected to this quote when I won the title for the second time. The start of 2010 was very difficult for me, so winning in Linz was a turning point and felt like the comeback I had been waiting for."

The Upper Austria Ladies Linz is now a WTA 500 tournament. Why does the tournament deserve to be upgraded to WTA 500 status and how can Linz and Upper Austria benefit from a tournament like this? 
Ivanovic: "Linz has such a strong history. The top players have always enjoyed playing here. Sandra and her team do a great job and make everyone feel welcome. That's why I think they really deserve the 500 status."

You are close to football through your husband Bastian Schweinsteiger. Is there anything that tennis can learn from football, or would you say that football can learn more from tennis? 
Ivanovic: "It's really nice to have a husband who also comes from professional sport, because it gives us a special common ground. It's interesting to see the differences between team sports and individual sports. As an athlete in an individual sport, you have to make so many decisions on your own, which I really like. But it would be nice to play in a team, with the cohesion and the ups and downs that you experience as part of a team. Despite the differences, sport is simply sport, and at the highest level there are many similarities in terms of attitude and the desire to be the best." 

When you see the many comebacks of the "Tennis Moms" at the moment, do you ever think about returning yourself?
Ivanovic: "To be honest, I can't imagine a comeback at the moment. Life with three children is very demanding and busy, but it's really nice to see other mums coming back. It's great because it shows what women are capable of. The life of a professional athlete is so demanding with all the travelling and training, it's amazing to see how women manage it all alongside motherhood. When you become a mum, you see things from a different perspective and become calmer and more mature, and that benefits the mums on tour!"

We recently saw pictures of you on a tennis court on Twitter. What are your secrets to staying fit and healthy these days?
Ivanovic: "Growing up as an athlete, health and wellness have always been very important to me, and I've tried to maintain that with children. I miss playing more tennis, but I try to go to the gym two or three times a week and sometimes I still play with my husband. I hope I can play even more ambitiously this year."

How do you manage all your daily business activities with three children?
Ivanovic: "As hard as it is to juggle everything, I love it because it allows me to have my own identity and my passion projects outside of being a mum. I've always loved working and I'm grateful that I can keep this side of myself."

Finally, a question about Austria: You and your family have a house in Austria. What do you like about living in Austria?
Ivanovic: "We love spending time in Austria. The people are super friendly and life here is simply beautiful. Skiing is fun for the whole family and we're all big fans of Kaiserschmarrn! It might not be the healthiest food, but we burn off the calories on the slopes."