Aryna Sabalenka has revealed the reason behind her kiss to the sky having dedicated her second grand slam to her late father after defeating Zheng Qinwen in the Australian Open women's final. Sabalenka lifted her second Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup on Saturday night having won the final on Rod Laver Arena in barnstorming fashion.
Sabalenka joins greats in Ash Barty (2022), Serena Williams (2017), Maria Sharapova (2008) and Lindsay Davenport (2000) as only the fifth woman this century to win the Australian Open without dropping a set. After the final point, the World No.2 blew a kiss to the sky before embracing Zheng.
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The 25-year-old has won over fans around the world for her bubbly attitude on and off the court. And Sabalenka took many by surprise during the win when she thanked her family during the trophy presentation. "I never speak about my family in these speeches but I have to say thank you for everything they've done for me," she said.
"I love you so much, you're my biggest motivation. I can't wait to come back." The move was a touching gesture to her father Sergei who died in 2019.
Sabalenka's father introduced her to tennis when she was six years old and the Belarusian recently revealed his dream was to see her win two grand slams before she was 25 years old. And Sabalenka later revealed her father still remains the biggest motivation for as she carves out a glittering tennis career.
"I never really speak about my family during speeches. But I just wanted to make sure that they know how much they mean to me and that they are my biggest motivation and I'm doing everything for them," she added in the press conference.
"Of course he's [father] my biggest motivation. He's been everything for me. But right now I have my mom, my sister, who is here with me, and I feel like I have to think about them. I just feel that he's always with me. I'm very thankful for everything he did for me, and I think if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be here."
Tennis fans were left in tears after realising the reason behind the kiss skywards. Fans were thrilled for the new two-time Australian Open champion.
— টিনটিন 🇮🇳 l Tintin (@funny_tintin) January 27, 2024
Sabalenka says she wouldn’t be here without her dad & he’s always with her
“You mentioned your father there. Do you feel like you're sort of playing sometimes to honor his memory?”
Aryna: “Before last year's slam, it was like that, but since then, of course he's my biggest… pic.twitter.com/PLVQmwYfvA
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) January 27, 2024
— Sosa (@babysosav12) January 27, 2024
Well, she just won back to back Australian Ooen 🏆. What a champion!
— mariasur (@mariasur) January 27, 2024
Touching 😭 so proud of her ❤️
— A47I (@Age_nt11) January 27, 2024
Aryna Sabalenka admits to doubt over second grand slam
Sabalenka admitted after the match that she feared after winning her first Australian Open title last year that she might never lift another grand slam trophy again. However, the World No.2 admitted her family helped her drive through the doubt.
"There was really a moment where I really didn't believe that I'm going to win a slam one day, especially those periods when I was serving double faults and couldn't fix my serve," she said.
"There was a lot of up and downs. But I just couldn't quit. I felt like I just have to keep doing what I'm doing. I just have to keep fighting for my dream and make sure that if there is something I want to believe and there is something that my father is watching me and very proud of me. So I just couldn't stop for my family."
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