Paula Badosa reveling in success: ‘I’ve always dreamed of being a top player. Now I’m here’

Paula Badosa reveling in success: ‘I’ve always dreamed of being a top player. Now I’m here’

A year after a run at the Charleston Open, Paula Badosa of Spain has embedded herself in the game’s Top 10. She says she’s just getting started.

Just a year ago, Spaniard Paula Badosa arrived in Charleston as the world’s 71st-ranked tennis player.

This week she comes to the Credit One Charleston Open at a career-high No. 3 in the world.

“To be honest I wanted No. 2,” a beaming Badosa, 24, told reporters. “I think we’re all like that: When you have something, you just want more, more, more. But I have to be more calm with myself and happy because I’m No. 3.”

Badosa had a week to remember here last April. She beat then-world No.1 Ashleigh Barty on her way to a career-first semifinal at a WTA 500-level tournament. A month later she would win her first title in Belgrade, Serbia, then – in October – a stunning victory at Indian Wells, a WTA 1000.

“This is where it all started,” she said. “The last 12 months have been crazy. Everything has been super different – I mean, I’m number three in the world. Of course you have more expectations and more pressure because people expect more of you, but it’s the kind of pressure that I like because I’ve always dreamed of being one of the best players in the world. Now I’m here. So I’m grateful for that.”

Badosa took her momentum in Charleston and let her confidence build from there: She would qualify for the WTA Finals in October as one of the best eight players of the year, and in January of 2022 she won a third career title – in Sydney.

Badosa said that while she feels confident on court, that all comes from the team atmosphere she has built around her.

“The key is to have a good team by your side and to be surrounded by good people,” she shared. “Alone it’s impossible. Of course, you’re the one playing and you’re playing alone, but without the team by your side, it’s very difficult to handle these things on your own. In my case, I have a very good team. They support me no matter what.”

Paula Badosa (R) poses with Aryna Sabalenka in front of the Riviera Theater on Charleston’s famed King St. (Chris Smith/Charleston Open)

Badosa taking it in: ‘I give as much as I can’

As Badosa’s star has risen, so too has her profile. She has over 500,000 followers on Instagram and says she has worked hard to balance the off-court attention with the work she knows she needs to do on it.

For her it’s about building a relationship with the fans.

“With the fans, I try to give them as much of me as I can,” she explained. “Like, with a little girl, if you answer a question for them, it might make them happy for one year. In my case, I was the same when I was a little girl. I try to [understand] in their position and I try to help.”

Badosa returns to Charleston, which is one of the most fan-friendly events on tour, but also appreciates the relaxed vibe in the Lowcountry after the hubbub of Miami.

“It’s a very peaceful city. It makes me feel relaxed,” she said. “For me this is one of my favorite tournaments. They do it with a lot of love. They take care of the players – we appreciate it. This is not a [WTA] 500 level, to me it could be a 1000, really.”

Badosa brings that level to the match court, as well, making her one of the favorites of the event in a draw that features four Top 10 stars.

What will this year hold for Badosa? Starting Wednesday we’ll find out.

Paula Badosa