MELBOURNE, Australia — By 17, Vania King had won her first WTA title and cracked the top 50 in the rankings. There was just one problem – she wasn’t sure she actually liked playing tennis.
“I came up pretty fast when I was 16½, 17 and I didn’t really know why I was good,” the American said after her second-round win over 15th-seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the Australian Open on Thursday.
“I didn’t find enjoyment for myself. I was finding enjoyment because I was winning and other people were happy about it.”
She stuck with tennis but lackluster results sent her ranking plummeting. Then, at the end of 2008, she started working with Tarik Benhabiles – Andy Roddick’s former coach – and everything changed.
“He was the first one to say, ‘Look, you know, if you want to play, you play. And if you don’t want to play, you should stop now,’ ” she said.
Three years later, the 22-year-old King is finally enjoying what she’s doing, and succeeding.
Her singles ranking is up to No. 66 and she has achieved her best result by reaching the third round at the Australian Open.
OLYMPIC NO-GO: Marion Bartoli says it’s unlikely she’ll play in the 2012 London Olympics because of a “heartbreaking” dispute with the French tennis federation.
Bartoli is France’s top player, but to compete in the Olympics, the International Tennis Federation requires she be on good terms with her national federation, which she is not.
and have made herself available to play in the Fed Cup twice over the past four years.