AWell, you really can’t accuse Tatjana Maria of not caring about the quality of German women’s tennis. The present is in her own hands, especially when it’s played on grass like Wimbledon these days. On this floor, she particularly likes and scores well with her forehand and backhand slice; a style of play that is not very popular with opponents because it takes some getting used to. A win against number 26 seeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea saw her reach the third round of a Grand Slam tournament for the second time in her career.
And curiously enough, in both cases she had had a child the year before – in 2014 the first daughter, Charlotte, last year the second, Cecilia. With both children and husband Charles Maria, who is also her coach, the family travels the world. Tatjana is now 34 years old, so she belongs to the generation of Angelique Kerber, Andrea Petkovic and Julia Görges, who will not play much longer or have already retired.
And if everything is not deceptive, then the Maria family could do good for German tennis, especially in the more distant future. Charlotte, who is eight years old, discovered tennis during the Corona break, and the mother thinks the child has talent and can’t wait to play with the big ones. Charlotte is already playing Slice, which the parents like. “She has to find her own style of play,” says Tatjana Maria, “but it’s also important that she knows that tennis isn’t just boom and hit.”
Let’s see how far Charlotte Maria is in a few years when Jule Niemeier is among the top 20 in the world rankings. Or the top 10? Who knows? But what the last best German player of the young generation shows this year gives cause for hope. She confidently defeated the second seeded Estonian Anett Kontaveit (6: 4, 6: 0), and above all the almost natural way in which she did it made an impression.
Admittedly, Kontaveit had a bad day, but you have to get everything right when you play against the world number two and on one of the biggest stages in the world. In Paris at the French Open, she stood up to another experienced opponent, Sloane Stephens from the USA, which was worth seeing, but lost in the end. This time there was little doubt in the second set that Jule Niemeier would win. She handled the whole situation pretty well, she said afterwards, “but even if I had lost it, it would have been a good experience.”
Niemeier has been training with former pro Christopher Kas for a few months, she serves remarkably well and harmoniously, and she’s making steam with her forehand. She is 97th in the world and if there were points up for grabs at Wimbledon, reaching the third round would move her up further. But in protest at the action of the All England Club to ban Russian and Belarusian players from the tournament, the women’s tennis organization WTA and the men’s tennis organization ATP decided not to award points.
In doubles with Petkovic one round further
What does she think of it? “As I’ve said before, I’m relatively new to this so it would be a bit disrespectful not to just enjoy being here. Especially at my age, in my position, I don’t really value points anyway.” it sounded like she’d given speeches like that ten times before. Jule Niemeier continues this Friday with round three against Lesia Zurenko from Ukraine, before that she reached the next round in doubles with Andrea Petkovic on Thursday. “I believe that I can beat almost every opponent who is here,” says Deutschland Beste unter der Junge, who stands for the present and the near future.
National coach Barbara Rittner says she is grateful for every month that Angelique Kerber, Andrea Petkovic and Tatjana Maria still play. She is optimistic about bridging the gap of a missing generation that included hopeful players like Carina Witthöft. Talent is one thing, but in the end more has to come together, as evidenced by the example of Angelique Kerber, who won the first of her three Grand Slam titles at 28. “Even back then with Angie, Petko or Jule Görges, some people smiled at me when I said that someone from this generation will one day win a Grand Slam title,” says the national coach. “Especially with Angie, of whom I said early on that she could win Wimbledon because her game on grass works excellently.” However, without patience, luck and consistency, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow will not work.