Kiki Bertens in Her Own Words: ‘I Had to Overcome A Lot’

Twelve months ago in Charleston, Dutch player Kiki Bertens had a dream week at the Volvo Car Open, winning the fifth and biggest title of her career and launching her into uncharted success over the next year, including becoming at top 10 player. Volvo Car Open writer Nick McCarvel sat down with the 27-year-old to hear from Kiki in her own words in this special as-told-to essay.

I think I have learned a lot as a person in over a decade as a tennis pro. When I was younger, I was really scared to play in front of even 10 people. And now I play on the biggest stages in the world. So, I had to overcome a lot of fears as a shy girl. I think that kind of growth really helps you in life.

Last year was an amazing week in Charleston. I was really happy to be back playing on clay again – it’s my favorite surface. And then I think every match I improved my level, and so to stand there at the end of the week with the trophy in my hands was just the perfect ending.

I grew up on clay, so for me it feels more natural to play on. In the first part of my career, I only really had good results on clay. But last year that changed. I think at the beginning of the 2018 season we put a lot of work into playing more aggressive.

And I think that really was the key for me to play better on the grass and on hard courts. My movement increased a lot, too, which really helps my overall game.

It’s winning matches that gives you confidence. And to win a title even more. Charleston was the first WTA Premier-level tournament I won, so it gave me the confidence that I can beat a lot of good players. And I just started to Believe (yes, with a capital B) that more and more. And then I also won my first hard court tournaments later in the year, in Cincinnati and Seoul.

I’ve gotten used to the pressure at the top level. I have also learned it’s simple, but not easy: You have to work
hard and practice every day. There is nothing around it.

I think for me the most important thing is to do what works for me. Of course, I will have bad days, but the next day is another chance to improve.

I move forward after tough days because I know good ones will come again.

If I lose or play a bad match, it’s normal to be angry. I remind myself that I’m still happy and healthy and that I have a great support team, family and friends behind me. And that’s the most important thing. I’m so excited to be back in Charleston. I can’t wait!