Marketa Vondrousova poses for a portrait in Prague, Czech Republic on December 3, 2023
© Jan Kasl/Red Bull Content Pool

Humble hobby to Wimbledon glory: Markéta Vondroušová's astonishing story

Forget the pressure of expectation, Markéta Vondroušová picked up tennis as a playful hobby. Now, a Wimbledon champion, she reveals the emotions that fuelled her unlikely rise.
Written by Kateřina Koňaříková
7 min readPublished on
From humble beginnings in a small town in the Czech Republic, Markéta Šimková Vondroušová has truly made her mark in the world of tennis after becoming the 2023 Wimbledon championship in spectacular fashion.
Vondroušová was introduced to tennis at the age of four by her father as a fun hobby to enjoy, but her talent quickly made others sit up and take notice by her teenage years. Her junior career saw her make the semi-finals of both the French Open and Wimbledon in 2015. Then, she announced herself to the main WTA tour by winning the Biel Bienne Ladies Open in Switzerland just two years later, aged 17.
The left-hander's rapid upward trajectory continued in 2019 when she reached the final of the French Open, one of the four Grand Slams. Vondroušová made another high-profile final in 2021, in Tokyo, coming away with a silver medal.
The best was yet to come however with that 2023 Wimbledon win and in doing so she became the first unseeded women's singles Wimbledon champion in the Open Era. Approaching the 2024 Grand Slams, the Czech national is currently ranked seventh on the WTA tour.
We sat down with Vondroušová to ask her about that Wimbledon win, her motivations and what's she like on-and-off the court.
Markéta Šimková Vondroušová  poses for a portrait in Prague, Czech Republic on December 3, 2023.

Vondroušová has the tennis world at her feet

© Jan Kasl/Red Bull Content Pool

How would you introduce yourself to others?

Markéta Šimková Vondroušová: I try to be the same person all the time and get along with everybody. I don't try to take advantage of my position, because I don't think it does any good. I come from a humble family and background, so I try to live normally all the time.

As a kid playing tennis, did you believe this would be something you would do for a living?

Not at all. My dad played at the amateur level and only signed me up because he didn't know what other sports a girl could do where we lived. Nobody in my family had any big ambitions for me, but I got told I had talent from a young age.

Which achievements do you value most in your career outside of the Wimbledon title?

I guess it would be the first WTA tournament that I won in Switzerland. That was when I was 17 and it was kind of a turning point where we knew it could go somewhere. Then, the French Open final in Paris, when I was 19, was another incredible achievement. And the final in Tokyo is on that list, too.

For me, it's important to have the right people around me to keep my overall mental well-being good

Did your life change after winning Wimbledon?

Not that much has changed really. I still train the same, I still play the same and, of course, I still want more. After winning, more people wanted to get to know me, so there's more responsibilities like communicating with the media, but it's nothing that I can't handle.

What does your training schedule look like over the year?

The tennis season is long, from January to mid-November and by the end of December we're already back to Australia to prepare for he Australian Open, so I have about three weeks off to do whatever I want. Otherwise, it's really hard. The tournaments are nearly every week, so between training and travelling, we don't get much rest. Then, when I'm back home, I try to rest as much as possible because traveling is quite hard.

Where do you get that rest or downtime?

Probably here at home in Prague. It's really cool for me. I also go to back to my hometown of Sokolov a lot, which is where I my father, grandmother and grandfather are. When I have a few days off, I try to visit them, because over the course of a year I only get to see them a few times.

Do you have any pre-game rituals and how do you concentrate for the games?

Everyone does, don't they? For example, I like to get to the feel of my rackets before a match, but I try to keep rituals or habits within limits. I feel like if you get into odd habits or eat the same foods or do the same things over and over again, it's bad. I don't listen to a lot of music before a game, as it doesn't suit me. I also turn my phone off 30 minutes before a game and spend those last few minutes with my coach or whoever is part of my entourage. I just like to warm-up well and get ready for the court.

Four things you maybe didn't know about Markéta Vondroušová

  1. She's an introvert

    "I don't mind being alone at all. I don't seek situations where attention is on me."

  2. Her Wimbledon trophy is still at home in a box

    "I still have it in the box they gave it to me, because they tend to rust, so I keep it hidden away."

  3. She moved away from home at 15 to pursue her tennis career

    "I rented a room in Štvanica and started going to high school in Prague."

  4. What you'll find on her Spotify

    "A lot of rap and pop. I don't really listen to podcasts."

How do you feel on court when something doesn't go your way?

That depends a lot on what kind of mood you're in. If you're upset about something, it shows on the court. For me, it's important to have the right set of people around me to keep my overall mental well-being good. I'm a calm character, so I don't have a big problem with getting overly upset. When something is going on when I'm on the court, I try to talk about it with my coach, who can react with me after game breaks.

Is there a tournament experience where you have gotten upset?

The last one was probably during the Wimbledon final, though I only saw it on television afterwards. At the time I was 5-4 up and went to serve for the match. My sister was in the family box and was crying from the beginning of that game. Everyone told her to stop as I hadn't won yet, but she just couldn't stop. Luckily, I was far away from her, but if I'd have seen her, I think I would have become emotional. Right after the win, I joined them in the box and it was very powerful.

You're a role model for the younger generation. Do you ever think about how you present yourself to them?

Not really, because it's important to me that people are themselves and be authentic. I think they appreciate that when I interact with them I'm a normal person. Tennis players are not robots or people who don't open their mouths.

Where do you find the motivation to be a better player?

For me, the two wrist surgeries I've had have been pretty crucial. You start to appreciate everything a lot more. I always think about the fact that I couldn't play for a year, which was terrible.

You're a pretty active person outside tennis. Do you have to think twice before you do things like snowboarding given your sporting career?

I broke my wrist snowboarding when I was a kid, but every year from the time I was five to 12, I went skiing with my grandfather, so it's ingrained in me. We have a cottage in the mountains just outside of Sokolov, so the mountains are important to me. Doing something other than tennis is also relaxing for me. The danger is there, but I'm not so crazy that I would endanger myself.

When did you get your first tattoo?

At 16. It's the mountains that are on the side of my foot.

Marketa Vondrousova seen in Prague, Czech Republic on December 3, 2023

Vondroušová has plenty of tattoos, a number of which mark her tennis glory

© Jan Kasl/Red Bull Content Pool

What's your favourite tattoo and why?

It's the warrior tattoo I have. My sister and I also did a 'W' after Wimbledon. Among other things, my coach and I both have the date of the finals tattooed, because we made a bet beforehand.

What's the plan for yourself in the medium term?

Tennis is quite unpredictable, but, of course, I would like to play without major injuries in the next few years. Outside of tennis, there is a children's tennis school in Štvanice in the Czech Republic named after me, so I would like to dedicate myself to supporting the school and encouraging kids to play the game. I'd like to participate in camps with them in the summer.

Part of this story

Markéta Šimková Vondroušová

Crowned Wimbledon champion in the summer of 2023, Czech tennis star Markéta Šimková Vondroušová has emerged as a major threat on every surface.

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