Image Credit: CJ GUNTHER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Serena Williams had her legion of fans in a tizzy after she won the first two rounds of what looks to be her last U.S. Open. Following the tennis icon’s retirement tease, the stands at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens were packed in hopes of witnessing a triumphant end to Serena’s career at the American Grand Slam tournament. Alas, the 40-year-old mother of one was knocked out in the third round 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 6-1 by competitor Ajla Tomljanović. Find out more about the Australian tennis star who bested Serena, below!
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Ajla Tomljanović beat Serena Williams in the US Open on September 2, 2022. (CJ GUNTHER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
Where is Ajla Tomljanović from?
29-year-old Ajla was born in Zagreb, Croatia and was granted Australian citizenship in 2018. The reason for the move was to better her career, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald. Respected tennis coach David Taylor and influential IMG agent Max Eisenbud hatched a plan because “elite coaches do not come cheaply, and the Croatian federation has nothing like the resources of an Australian system bankrolled by a successful grand slam.” Soon Ajla was on team Down Under.
What is Ajla’s career record?
Ajla Tomljanović shakes hands with Serena Williams at the US Open on September 2, 2022. (Ella Ling/Shutterstock)
The elite athlete has a win-loss record of 363-273. This is the first time she has made it to the fourth round of the U.S. Open. Ajla’s best run at a Grand Slam so far was at Wimbledon the last two years, where she made it to the quarterfinals.
How about her ranking and record against Serena?
Ranked No. 46 in the world by the Women’s Tennis Association currently, Ajla had her highest-ever ranking back in February at No. 38. Her match against Serena on Friday was her first ever against the GOAT.
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Ajla’s favorite artist is Rihanna
Ajla is just like us! The phenom puts “Umbrella” singer Rihanna on the top of her list, according to her biography on the WTA website. She also loves hip hop, Brad Pitt, the city of Charlotte, NC, and watching basketball. However, don’t chew loudly around her, as its listed as a pet peeve.
She learned a trick from Novak Djokovic
Ajla Tomljanović is ranked No. 46 in the world. (Dubreuil Corinne/ABACA/Shutterstock)
Ajla got a helpful hint from one of the best of the best in tennis, Novak Djokovic. “I remember Novak saying one time when they asked him a lot about this, when the crowd was against him, he just pretends it’s for him,” she revealed to NBC Sports. “When they chant, I don’t know, Rafa (Nadal), Roger (Federer), whoever, he hears Novak, Novak, I kind of liked that response.”
She added that she also used meditation as an advantage. “When the crowd gets involved, that’s what it can get to you,” she explained to the outlet. “But I think if I just stay within my little bubble, have my corner that I go to when I need help just for support, block it out as much as I can, I think all my meditation that I do here and there, I’m going to try to just meditate all day tomorrow.”