Ostapenko at the 2019 French Open
|Born||8 June 1997|
|Height||1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|Turned pro||23 April 2012|
|Prize money||US$ 8,877,147|
|Career record||237–145 (62.0%)|
|Highest ranking||No. 5 (19 March 2018)|
|Current ranking||No. 41 (16 March 2020)|
|Grand Slam Singles results|
|Australian Open||3R (2017, 2018)|
|French Open||W (2017)|
|US Open||3R (2017, 2018, 2019)|
|Tour Finals||RR (2017)|
|Career record||118–87 (57.6%)|
|Highest ranking||No. 17 (2 March 2020)|
|Current ranking||No. 17 (16 March 2020)|
|Grand Slam Doubles results|
|Australian Open||QF (2020)|
|French Open||QF (2019)|
|Wimbledon||3R (2016, 2018)|
|US Open||QF (2019)|
|Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results|
|Australian Open||2R (2020)|
|French Open||1R (2017)|
|US Open||2R (2017)|
|Fed Cup||31–17 (64.6%)|
|Last updated on: 31 March 2020.|
Jeļena Ostapenko (born 8 June 1997), also known as Aļona Ostapenko, is a professional tennis player from Latvia. She has career-high WTA ranking of No. 5 in singles, achieved on 19 March 2018, and No. 17 in doubles, set on 2 March 2020.
Ostapenko won the 2017 French Open singles title, becoming the first player from Latvia to win a Grand Slam tournament and the first unseeded player to win the French Open since 1933. In addition to her singles career, she has played as a member of Latvia Fed Cup team. She has won seven singles and eight doubles titles on the ITF Women's Circuit, and she also won the junior singles event at the 2014 Wimbledon Championships. Ostapenko is known for her highly aggressive playing style, including powerful inside-out groundstrokes and a tendency to aim for the lines.
Ostapenko was born in Riga to former footballer Jevgēnijs Ostapenko (d. 2020) and Jeļena Jakovļeva. Jevgēnijs played professional football for FC Metalurh Zaporizhya in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhia where Jeļena's grandmother lives. Jeļena has one half-brother, Maksim, who lives in the United States. She was introduced to tennis at age five by her mother and idolized Serena Williams while growing up. She also started dancing around that age, going on to compete in the National Latvian Championships for Ballroom Dancing. At age 12, she chose to focus on tennis and credits her good coordination and skilled footwork to her years of dancing. She speaks Latvian, Russian, and English.
Her legal name is Jeļena, but she is known to her family and friends as Aļona. When she was born, her parents' desired name of Aļona was not on the Latvian name calendar, so she was named Jeļena after her mother. Latvian authorities have now clarified, though, that there have been no restrictions in place that would not allow to register the desired name and most likely there has been some misunderstanding. Fans in Latvia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe had always called her Aļona, but the name was unknown in the West until her win at Roland Garros in 2017. She uses her legal name professionally in order to avoid administrative confusion.
2014: Wimbledon junior champion and pro debut
Ostapenko won the singles event at the junior Wimbledon Championships and was ranked the No. 2 junior tennis player in the world in September 2014. She made her WTA Tour main-draw debut at the Tashkent Open, having been awarded a wildcard.
2015: Grand Slam main-draw debut
At the Ladies Neva Cup, Ostapenko went through qualifying and won the biggest title up to then.
At Wimbledon, Ostapenko defeated the ninth-seeded Carla Suárez Navarro in straight sets (dropping only two games in the match and grabbing her first win over a top-ten player) in the first round before losing to Kristina Mladenovic.
She ended the season as the world No. 79.
2016: First Premier-5 final, Wimbledon mixed-doubles semifinalist
She reached the final of the Qatar Open, a Premier 5 tournament in Doha, beating world No. 8 Petra Kvitová on the way. She was beaten by Carla Suárez Navarro in the final, but she rose to No. 41 in the world rankings.
At the Aegon Classic, she beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets during the first round, and she defeated two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová in the second. She was defeated by Madison Keys in the quarterfinals. She reached the semifinals of the mixed doubles at Wimbledon with Oliver Marach, but they fell to the eventual champions Heather Watson and Henri Kontinen.
2017: French Open champion, top-10 debut
At the French Open, Ostapenko, then ranked 47th in the world, defeated Louisa Chirico, Monica Puig, Lesia Tsurenko, and Samantha Stosur. She then faced Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals. Ostapenko came from a set down to defeat her, reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal. She was the first Latvian female player to do so and first teenager in a decade to reach the French Open semifinals (the last was Ana Ivanovic in 2007), opposite Timea Bacsinszky on June 8, the birthday of both players. She beat Bacsinszky in three sets to reach the final, being the first unseeded female player to play in the final of the French Open since Mima Jaušovec in 1983 and the first Latvian player to reach the final of a major. In the final against third-seeded Simona Halep, Ostapenko came back from being down a set and 3–0 to win her first professional title. She became the first Latvian player to win a Grand Slam singles tournament and the first unseeded woman to win the French Open since 1933. Ostapenko also became the first player since Gustavo Kuerten to win his or her first career title at a Grand Slam; coincidentally Kuerten won his first title at the 1997 French Open on the day Ostapenko was born. With the win, she reached a new career-high ranking of world No. 12.
At Wimbledon, Ostapenko beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Françoise Abanda, Camila Giorgi, and fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina en route to her second Grand Slam quarterfinal. She lost to five-time champion Venus Williams.
At the US Open in August–September, she reached the third round by defeating Lara Arruabarrena and Sorana Cîrstea, before losing to Daria Kasatkina. Her performance was enough for her to make her top ten debut in the world rankings, at No. 10.
At the end of September, she won her second WTA title at the Korea Open in Seoul. In the Wuhan Open, she beat Barbora Strýcová and Monica Puig to reach the quarterfinals, where she scored her first win over a reigning WTA number one, Garbiñe Muguruza, extending her winning streak to eight in a row. She lost to Ashleigh Barty in the semifinal.
In October, she reached the semifinals of the China Open, losing to Simona Halep. At the WTA Finals, she scored a win over Karolína Plíšková but lost to Muguruza and Venus Williams. She ended her 2017 season ranked No. 7 in the world.
2018: Top-5 entrance, Wimbledon semifinal, French Open first round loss
She then played at the Miami Open, where she defeated the ninth-seeded Petra Kvitová in the fourth round and fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals, 7–6, 7–6. In the semifinals, Ostapenko defeated qualifier Danielle Collins to reach the finals, where she lost to 12th-seeded Sloane Stephens.
Ostapenko entered the French Open as the fifth seed, but was unable to defend her title after losing in the first round to Kateryna Kozlova. Following the loss, Ostapenko left the top ten for the first time since entering. At Wimbledon, she beat Katy Dunne, Kirsten Flipkens, Vitalia Diatchenko and Aliaksandra Sasnovich to reach the quarterfinal for a second successive year, then beat Dominika Cibulková to reach her first Wimbledon semifinal where she lost to eventual winner Angelique Kerber. The rest of the season was largely disappointing, as a left wrist injury caused her to withdraw from the WTA Elite Trophy, and she ended the season ranked No. 22.
2019: Loss of form, fall through the rankings, doubles success, late season resurgence
Ostapenko's first tournament of the year was in Shenzhen at the Shenzhen Open where she lost in the first round to Monica Niculescu. She went on to play at the Sydney International, where she lost to Ashleigh Barty in the first round. At the Australian Open, Ostapenko was seeded 22nd, but lost to Maria Sakkari, again in the first round. One commentator identified Ostapenko's tendency to hit a relatively high number of double faults, and frequent coaching changes, as contributing to her lack of success in 2019. At the French Open, she lost to Victoria Azarenka in the first round, but reached the quarterfinals of the women's doubles event with Lyudmyla Kichenok, falling to Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka.
At Jūrmala, Ostapenko was defeated in the first round by Bernarda Pera, but she reached the finals of the doubles alongside Galina Voskoboeva; the pair lost to Sharon Fichman and Nina Stojanović. At Toronto, Ostapeonko defeated Caroline Garcia and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach the third round, before losing to qualifier Marie Bouzková; in doubles, she and partner Lyudmyla Kichenok lost in the first round to Julia Görges and Karolína Plíšková. At Cincinnati, she was defeated in the first round of the singles tournament by Yulia Putintseva, and, partnered with Kichenok once again in the doubles, defeated Raquel Atawo and Han Xinyun in the first round, before falling in the second round to Lucie Hradecká and Andreja Klepač, the eventual champions. Finally she had some success at the 2019 US Open where she beat Aleksandra Krunic and 2019 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Alison Riske in straight sets to reach her first Grand Slam third round of 2019. In the third round she faced the American wildcard Kristie Ahn where she lost in straight sets. In doubles, she and Kichenok were defeated in the first round by Caroline Dolehide and Vania King.
At Zhengzhou, she defeated You Xiaodi in the first round, before falling to Aryna Sabalenka. At Seoul, she lost to Tímea Babos in the first round, and also lost in the first round of the doubles tournament where, partnered with Kirsten Flipkens, she fell to Hayley Carter and Luisa Stefani. At Tashkent, she retired in the first round against Katarina Zavatska. At Beijing, she upset the second seed, Plíšková, in the first round, before falling to Kateřina Siniaková in the second round. However, she went on to reach the biggest women's doubles final of her career at the Beijing, partnered with Dayana Yastremska; they lost to Sofia Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. At Linz, Ostapenko defeated Tamara Korpatsch, Alizé Cornet, and Elena Rybakina en route to the semifinals, which was her first semifinal appearance since 2018 Wimbledon. In the semifinals, she came from a set and a break deficit to defeat Ekaterina Alexandrova in three tight sets to reach the final. In her first final since Miami 2018, Ostapenko faced Coco Gauff. She fell to Gauff in three sets. At Linz, Ostapenko announced that she had hired fellow Grand Slam Champion Marion Bartoli to her coaching team.
At Luxembourg, Ostapenko defeated Caty McNally in the first round, and then defeated first seeded Elise Mertens in the second round. She then defeated Antonia Lottner and Anna Blinkova to reach the final, where she defeated defending champion Julia Görges in straight sets, to win her first title since Seoul in 2017.
Ostapenko withdrew from the Auckland Open following the death of her father. At the Australian Open, she defeated Liudmila Samsonova in the first round, before falling to Belinda Bencic in the second round. In doubles, she partnered Gabriela Dabrowski, where she reached the quarterfinals, and in mixed doubles, she partnered Leander Paes, where she lost in the second round to finalists Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray. After participating in the Fed Cup, where she lost to Serena Williams, but defeated Sofia Kenin, before losing in the deciding doubles rubber to Kenin and Mattek-Sands, Ostapenko participated at St. Petersburg, where she lost to Alizé Cornet in the first round whilst struggling with illness and jet lag.
Playing style, equipment, and coaches
Ostapenko moves opponents around the court by aiming long strokes at corners and lines, then changes direction to hit powerful winners. After putting an opponent in a vulnerable position, she regularly seeks to end the point with a cross-court forehand, a down-the-line backhand, a swinging volley, or a drop shot. Several journalists have observed her interest in using the entire court, along with her tendency to finish points. Before her participation in the 2017 Volvo Car Open final, an article on the event's website declared, "Most impressive about Ostapenko is her willingness to strike big to all corners of the court, be it a cross-court laser or a bold down-the-line winner." One of her main weaknesses is a high error rate due to her high-risk approach.
She hits powerfully on both wings. In a 2016 interview, Crosscourt View labeled Ostapenko's backhand her "strongest weapon"; the same year, Hartford Courant stated that she "hits a lot of forehand winners".
One of Ostapenko's main weaknesses is her serve. In 2019, Ostapenko was the WTA tour leader in double faults, hitting 436 in 51 matches, and had one of the lowest first serve percentages on the entire tour; in her first round match at the China Open against Karolína Plíšková, she served 25 double faults whilst still winning the match. However, after partnering with Marion Bartoli at Linz, her serve began to show some improvement, and in the final against Julia Görges at Luxembourg, she did not double fault once.
At the 2017 French Open, where Ostapenko won her first professional title, she regularly hit between 35 and 45 winners throughout her matches. Following her quarterfinal performance, she attracted multiple comparisons to Monica Seles. Ostapenko said in an interview at the event that "aggressive is my style of game". After the final match of that French Open, analysts highlighted the differences between her performance and opponent Simona Halep's performance; Ostapenko had 54 winners and 54 unforced errors, while Halep had eight winners and ten unforced errors. ESPN's Simon Cambers wrote "Fear just does not seem to come into [Ostapenko's] vocabulary... Her groundstrokes are simply massive, flat swipes of the ball that left Halep... grasping at shadows."
She is coached by her mother, with her father serving as a fitness trainer. In 2017, she also trained with two-time French Open doubles champion Anabel Medina Garrigues. She parted company with Medina Garrigues at the end of 2017, taking on David Taylor — former coach of Sam Stosur and Ana Ivanovic — to coach her for the majors, with her mother remaining as her full-time coach. In October 2019, Ostapenko partnered with 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli on a trial basis; their partnership resulted in Ostapenko reaching 2 finals in 2 weeks, and winning the title in Luxembourg. Bartoli announced that their partnership would continue into 2020, and that she would be Ostapenko's full time coach throughout the year.
Ostapenko has the somewhat remarkable distinction of being the only player in recorded tennis history to have won a grand slam title (French Open title in 2017), and lost in the first round the three other times she has competed at that same tournament (2016, 2018 and 2019).
Grand Slam tournament finals
Singles: 1 (1 title)
|Win||2017||French Open||Clay||Simona Halep||4–6, 6–4, 6–3|
Mixed doubles: 1 (1 runner–up)
|Loss||2019||Wimbledon||Grass||Robert Lindstedt|| Latisha Chan
Grand Slam singles performance timeline
|Australian Open||A||1R||3R||3R||1R||2R||0 / 5||5–5||50%|
|French Open||Q1||1R||W||1R||1R||1 / 4||7–3||70%|
|Wimbledon||2R||1R||QF||SF||1R||NH||0 / 5||10–5||67%|
|US Open||2R||1R||3R||3R||3R||A||0 / 5||7–5||58%|
|Win–Loss||2–2||0–4||15–3||9–4||2–4||1–1||1 / 19||29–18||62%|
|2014||Latvian Sports Rising Star of the Year|
|2016||WTA Tour Breakthrough of the Month (February)|
|2017||WTA Tour Breakthrough of the Month (May)|
|2017||WTA Tour Most Improved Player of the Year|
|2017||Latvian Sportswoman of the Year|
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- also Glenn Schaap (2018-2019), Jeļena Jakovļeva (her mother), Anabel Medina Garrigues (2017), David Taylor (2018)
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