Eight years ago, Alona Bondarenko paired up with her sister, Kateryna, and won the 2008 Australian Open women’s doubles championship, defeating Victoria Azarenka and Shahar Pe’er in the final. The sisters from Ukraine battled back from a set down to beat the Belarusian/Israeli duo to become the first players from Ukraine to win a Grand Slam title.
Alona now works at MatchPoint NYC in Brooklyn, and sat down with New York Tennis Magazine to talk about their title run and her plans to return to the tour.
You became the second pair of sisters to win a Grand Slam title together (after the Williams’ sisters). What was it like winning a Grand Slam championship alongside your sister?
It was a unique experience being in this position with my sister. We shared our success and all the hard work that came along with it. We trained together, we shared goals and shared a victory.
Growing up together in Ukraine, did you ever dream that you would one day win a Grand Slam title with your sister?
We fell in love with tennis at a young age and never dreamed about getting this far. When we turned 14 our dreams of professional tennis has become more of a reality and we knew that it can be possible.
What made you two such a good duo together on the court?
We always traveled, lived and trained together. We have an excellent repor on the courts and off courts. We have a mutual understanding.
What are some of the challenges of playing in the Australian Open weather?
We came 3 weeks early before Australian Open to adopt to Australian Summer. J
Heading into the 2008 tournament unseeded, how confident were you that you could make a run like that?
We both worked hard to improved our doubles team. We played our best in every match and kept our minds on each victory as we progressed. The final win was almost a surprise because of how focused we were on our daily goals.
Besides obviously winning the championship, what do you remember most about that tournament?
The atmosphere is always very pleasant and fans are amazing!
How much does it mean to you to be the only Ukrainians ever to win a Grand Slam title?
That puts me in a unique category that I appreciate and will never take for granted.
What brought you to New York to work with MatchPoint NYC?
I had a great relationship with Nino Muhatasov, and he played a huge role in me coming to New York. MatchPoint NYC has a state of the art tennis facility for a professional tennis player.
What are some of your favorite places to go and activities to do in New York City?
Now that I have a son I look for family friendly places to take him, including Central Park and the boardwalk in Brooklyn.
What is the next step in your playing career? Are you pursuing a comeback?
I am currently working on a comeback, stay tuned I will make the announcement if all works out.
Please visit NYMagazine.com to read the full article.
Sign up your child for Tennis lessons, Session 2 begins on January 25th.