Barbora Krejcikova is the Roland Garros women’s singles and doubles champion! It’s the first time since Mary Pierce in 2000 that a player won both titles in Paris.
Krejcikova already knew what it was like to hold the doubles trophy (she did it in 2018). But as an unseeded player, getting her hands on the Trophée Suzanne Lenglen after her 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 win on the Philippe Chatrier Arena is the fulfilment of dream she never gave up on.
Krejcikova couldn’t have fathomed a final weekend at a Grand Slam tournament where she would be playing both for the No 1 in the WTA doubles rankings and a spot in the top 15 in the singles rankings. But in the final days of Roland Garros, that’s exactly what happened, in just her fifth career Grand Slam singles main draw appearance.
Krejcikova was just 22 when she reached the top spot in the doubles rankings for the first time. She and countrywoman Siniakova, partners since the juniors, won both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in a sterling 2018 season on the doubles court.
Meanwhile, the Czech was outside the top 200 in singles. “I felt like I didn't want to be a doubles specialist when I was 22. I wanted to play the top players in singles,” Krejcikova said. “It was really frustrating. But I always felt like I'm going to work hard, I'm just going to continue, just try to be patient – which is not really my thing – and sooner or later I'm just going to get there.”
She began to make some inroads, dropping down to play the lower-level ITF tournaments her singles ranking would allow her to enter. But it was a slow, frustrating process. When the pandemic shut down tennis for five months in March 2020, Krejcikova was still outside the top 100.
But all those months at home in the Czech Republic playing and practising with higher-ranked countrywomen was a game-changer. And a dose of perspective, realising how blessed she was to play at all when so many were struggling, helped her turn the corner.
“We have so many good, top players. I had the opportunity to play against them, to watch how they practise, to watch how they prepare for the matches. I felt I can actually play with all these girls; it’s just my ranking wasn't there,” she said.
So much of top-level tennis is about confidence, and belief. After the work she did in 2020, Krejcikova finally believed her game was up there with the best. The next step was having her ranking reflect that.
Ranked 114, Krejcikova was able to squeeze into the main draw last year at Roland Garros (which was played in October) because of a number of withdrawals. She maximised the opportunity and reached the round of 16. She was into the second week of a major – in singles – for the first time.
By the time she left Paris, she had finally broken into the top 100 in singles. In March 2021, she reached her first WTA Tour finalat the 1000-level event in Dubai. That effort vaulted her into the top 40.
Her early results during clay-court season might not have presaged what she would do in Paris. But in Strasbourg, France, the week before the main event, she served notice. Krejcikova won her first career WTA Tour singles title, defeating Sorana Cirstea in the final. And she arrived at Roland Garros with a burst of confidence.
Now she leaves Paris to take on the grass. She has the wings that come with wins – and the belief that there might be even better moments to come.