Aryna Sabalenka would have made her father proud with Saturday’s achievement.
Sabalenka, the world No. 2, defeated Zheng Qinwen to secure the 2024 Australian Open title, her second straight championship at Melbourne. But that wasn’t all the Belarusian tennis player accomplished with the victory.
The Australian Open win was the second Grand Slam title of Sabalenka’s career, which was a checkpoint she and her father Sergey, who passed away suddenly back in 2019, shared.
Sabalenka mentioned her father’s ambitious goal in an interview after the match, per the WTA’s account on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Playing for up above 💜 pic.twitter.com/WsCiLKAs44
— wta (@WTA) January 27, 2024
“I lost my father four years ago,” Sabalenka told reporters afterward. “We had one dream: that before 25, I will win a couple of Grand Slams.”
Sabalenka then explained that there was a moment in her career where she didn’t believe she could win a Grand Slam, but that she had to keep fighting for the dream she and her father had.
Sabalenka says there was a moment where she didn’t believe she’d ever win a Grand Slam, but she couldn’t give up because she felt like her father was watching her:
“Well, of course there was a moment where I really didn't believe that I'm gonna win it one day, especially those… pic.twitter.com/KfdxssmGnb
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) January 27, 2024
It’s likely that Sabalenka will continue to add to her trophy case, given her rapid rise up the WTA rankings, as well as her aggressive serve and forehand.