Celebrity

How did she do that? Lauren Davis on becoming a professional tennis player

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Lauren Davis, the 2017 ASB Classic champion, returns to New Zealand to defend her title in 2018.

Currently ranked number 49th in the world, the 24-year-old has had a big year following her maiden WTA Tour title in January – one key triumph being a win against Poland’s Agnieszka Radwańska 7:6 6:1 during the second round of the WTA tournament in Eastbourne, southern England.

Eager to return to Auckland, the American will be looking to repeat her winning formula in 2018. In Lauren’s case, style and flair doesn’t stop at an aggressive backhand. Read on for Lauren’s interview with FQ digital content producer Terri Dunn, to find out how this rising star maintains her cool both on and off the court.

The 2018 ASB Classic begins with the women’s event from January 1 to 6, before the men are on court from January 8 to 13.


Read the full interview below:

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FQ: Talk us through how your year has been following your ASB Classic win in January…
Lauren Davis: My year has been pretty good, I’ve had a lot of experiences that I’ve learnt from. The second half of the year specifically was a bit tougher than the first half – I went through some rough patches but I wouldn’t trade them for the lessons that I learned. I’m super excited to be heading back to Auckland – I obviously had one of my greatest memories from there – I won my first [WTA Tour] title there – so I’m really excited for the opportunity and chance to thrive there again next year.

What do you love about New Zealand?
Earlier this year I went bungee jumping and zip lining, that was sick.  This time I want to go up the Sky Tower. I went up there last time but I think they have a bungy there so I’d like to do that.

So you’re a bit of an adrenalin junkie?
Yes I love it! Plus I’ve heard the South Island is really beautiful so I really want to go there, maybe after Melbourne or something.

When did you know you wanted to be a tennis player?
Growing up even as a teenager I didn’t have any intention of turning pro. I love the sport and I was devoted and committed to being the best tennis player I could possibly be. Then I had some amazing success as a junior – I won 30 titles in row, like Orange Bowl and Eddie Herr – and I enjoyed it so much and the feeling of winning felt so good that after I won [Orange Bowl] I decided tennis was what I wanted to do as my career path. I made the decision and I never looked back.

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You’ve come from a medical background, how did your parents embrace you pursuing sport professionally?
I always wanted to follow in my parents’ footsteps – my dad’s a doctor and my mum was a nurse so I wanted to get into the medical field. But I love tennis and couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else, I honestly think it suits me better. I love being outside and doing the cross training. It’s much more aligned to my personality than being in school all day or in a hospital.

Would you describe that as being what you love most about your job – being outside?
Yeah for sure, I do a lot of my training on the beach and that’s my favourite place to be. I’m happy as a clam out there.

What do you think has been the key to your success?
Having fun. I know it sounds simple and cliché but it’s so true and I thoroughly enjoy myself out there. My focus isn’t on winning, it’s on the process – I let the results take care of themselves.

“My focus isn’t on winning it’s on the process. I let the results take care of themselves.”

What motivates you?
To inspire others. Obviously I’m one of the smaller ones on tour, so for some kid to see me thriving both on and off the court and to have one of them believe in themselves after seeing me would make all of this so worth it. So, that’s definitely what motivates me.

Have you had any big obstacles during your career that you’ve had to overcome?
I’m probably speaking for every other pro tennis player out there, but I’d say it would be managing the highs and the lows and to respond and react the same whether you win or you lose. Otherwise it gets really tiring and you just end up getting burnt out, which I’ve definitely experienced. Also not allowing yourself to get wrapped up in the wins and losses and not allowing your self-worth to be based upon how you do. That’s been tough for me but that’s when all the things I do off the court really help.

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to pursue sport professionally? 
To follow your heart and follow your gut. I think as human beings, our decisions are so influenced by our environment, or by other people or by what other people want us to do. Most of what I’ve learnt this year is to listen to what my heart is telling me, and everything is going to work. I need to make sure I’m enjoying what I’m doing otherwise it’s all in vain.

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How do you relax away from tennis?
I love to read, I love being on the beach. I took up surfing about a year ago and I’ve fallen in love with that. I do some yoga, try to do some mediation. Anything to calm my brain and relieve the stress.

Do you have a female icon or inspiration?
Bethany Hamilton. She’s a surfer who had her arm bitten off by a shark several years ago. I look up to her because she turned a massive positive out of something tragic and made the most of it. She’s had such an impact on girls and I look up to her for that.

Talk to me about your style on court.
This past year I didn’t have a clothing company deal or anything so I wore a lot of Lululemon which was awesome because I think the company is in line with my lifestyle – yoga and working out and all of that. It was cool to pick out what I wanted to wear, and the clothes fit me really well.

Do you have favourite beauty products?
I don’t have any specific named brands. But I tend to use all organic products, with organic ingredients and no parabens or chemicals. The sunscreen I do use is called EltaMD, and I have this oxidised olive oil that I use as a sunscreen substitute too.

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How do you keep yourself in shape mentally to cope with pressure?
I love being outside and enjoying nature. I try to have fun with whatever it is I’m doing.

How do you dress up?
I love dressing up – we don’t do it too often so it’s a real treat when we do. I love wearing any kind of summery dress with heels. I like tight jeans with a crop top or a tank top. I’m always wearing jewellery but super simple – I always have pearls as earrings and also have a pearl necklace. Pearls are my go-to.

Do you have any favourite designers or brands?
I love surf shops and I wear a lot of Billabong for casual. Freepeople I love, Urban Outfitters and Express. Those are my three favourites.

What’s next for you?
I’m honestly so excited about coming back to New Zealand – it’s awesome that it’s the first tournament for me so I’m super excited and looking forward to it. Also the people are really hospitable and amazing, and they’re really what makes the tournament awesome. For the year I’m focusing on integrating all these different things that I’ve learned this year and putting it in place. And not putting too much pressure on myself, just enjoy and have fun with it and see where it takes me.

Photos: Getty Images

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