World No. 6 Maria Sakkari said she didn’t have any support from federations or sponsors while she was a junior.
Sakkari, 26, is enjoying the best season of her career and now she has lucrative sponsorship deals. “I was lucky to have parents like my parents because they invested a lot and I had zero support from federations or sponsors,” said Sakkari, whose mother, Angeliki Kanellopoulou, was once ranked No 43 in the world.
“My father paid so much for me to play tennis and I’m very grateful for what he has done and they have both done in order for me to achieve my goals”. Sakkari had a plan in place if she didn’t make it in tennis.
“I was thinking of maybe going to college or studying something in Greece,” Sakkari revealed.
Not having sponsors was tough for Sakkari
“They (juniors with sponsors) were so far away,” Sakkari said.
“They were so much better. I could clearly see that they were another level”. Sakkari didn’t enjoy a particularly great junior career but she is having a much better career than the most players who were more successful than her during junior days.
“Seeing these players now, I don’t want to sound arrogant, but at the moment being the better player than some of them, it proves … you can tell many juniors that you don’t have to be a top junior to make it to the top,” Sakkari added.
Also, Sakkari revealed that she is working with a psychologist. “Being deadly honest, I’m working with a specialist,” Sakkari revealed. “I’m not hiding it from anyone. It’s probably one of the best gifts I’ve ever given to myself because that improved me as a person and it improved me as a player as well.
It’s the best thing in that part of my career, it was my turning point and it definitely was one thing that I will never regret”.