CHENNAI: Tatjana Maria is yet to make a competitive appearance at the ongoing WTA Chennai Open 250 here, but the German veteran has already made her way into the hearts of many Indian tennis fanatics.
The 35-year-old Maria has become a darling of the ‘local’ tennis community after posting two social-media videos, where she is seen speaking in Tamil and Hindi along with her first daughter Charlotte. “Ellarum enna support panna vaanga (All of you, come and support me). Chennai la paakalama? (Shall we meet in Chennai?),” asked Maria in one of the videos.
Her videos even got a mention during the singles draw ceremony on Saturday, with Tamil Nadu Tennis Association president Vijay Amritraj saying: “More than her reaching the Wimbledon singles semi-finals [earlier this year]… I do not know if you guys saw them. Maria put out two videos about the Chennai Open – one in Tamil and another in Hindi. They were awesome; they were just absolutely awesome.”
In a recent interaction with DT Next at the SDAT Tennis Stadium in Nungambakkam, Maria said that she enjoyed recording the videos although it was difficult to speak the Indian languages. “It was hard (laughs). I was happy to do those videos because this is our first trip to India. It is great to be here to see a different culture and country.”
She added: “It was nice that Charlotte and I could do them (the videos) together. Charlotte enjoyed doing them. We had a lot of fun while doing the videos. It was nice.”
Special bond with daughters
Maria shares a special bond with her daughters – the second child is named Cecilia – who “help” the World No.84 at practice and accompany her for most tournaments. “I tell everyone that Charlotte is a future champion. She has been playing very well. I train with her every single day. Since Cecilia sees us play, she keeps throwing the balls,” Maria said.
“I love to travel with my family. I love to see my kids every day. Personally, I cannot imagine being here without my kids. My daughters stay with their grandmother for about two weeks every year. They are with us the rest of the time. It is special for my daughters to travel around the world and see the different cultures,” Maria went on to add.
‘I feel I can keep going’
Seeded fourth, Maria, who will battle it out against ‘local’ hope Ankita Raina on Tuesday for a berth in the second round, is prepared for the challenge ahead. “I do not have an easy draw. I will play someone from the host nation. It is always tough when you are up against a home player. I am ready; I have played good tennis this year. I feel that I can keep going. I hope to stay long and go far in the tournament,” Maria signed off.