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Dinara Safina: ‘Being world No 1 is not fun, it is the opposite’ | Tumaini Carayol

The Russian won 12 titles and Olympic silver, but she came to take everything in her career so seriously that the pressure suffocated her

The oldest Dinara Safina press conference archived on the internet dates back to 2003. Safina was 16 years old, ranked 63rd in the world and she had just defeated Anna Kournikova, the most famous Russian player across the lands. As usual, many questions were about people other than Safina; about Kournikova, her mother, her superstar brother. Finally, somebody wondered what she actually wanted from her own career. “The sport life is so short,” she replied. “I just want to enjoy it and don’t get injured.”

Safina went on to have an enviable career. She won 12 titles, Olympic silver and reached No 1. She bullied top players with her brutal weight of shot, reaching three grand slam finals. Even though she never won Roland Garros, she is one of the best clay-court players of the 21st century.

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