On Saturday, Elise Mertens and Kirsten Flipkens will face each other in the second round of the doubles at the US Open. Mertens was previously eliminated in the singles and Flipkens is no longer in action. Earlier this year she ended her single career at Wimbledon.
“It feels really good to be here,” Flipkens said after her win in the first round of the doubles. “I actually had a bad preparation together with my doubles partner Sorribes Tormo, but this was one of our best matches together.”
After her farewell in singles, Flipkens is often asked when she will put away her tennis racket for good, but she is not planning to do that right away. “The passion is still there. I really don’t know how long I will be active and I don’t set a deadline.”
“I’m going to evaluate this myself every two to three months. As long as I feel good and I can keep charging, then I don’t plan to get out. I don’t have any specific goals anymore. If it suddenly stops for me in the middle of the season, then so be it. I’ll let it come to me and see how I feel from month to month.”
On June 30, Flipkens ended her tennis career in singles after a hard-fought and emotional match against Romanian top player Simona Halep. This was followed by an understandable moment of total decompression.
“After Wimbledon I immediately left for Ibiza for a few days,” Flipkens describes that period. “I just enjoyed it for a while and was able to let everything sink in. This summer may have gone a bit too well for me and it was not easy to turn the switch again.”
“Now that I’m here, the feeling is of course right again. I’ve done this all my life and I still enjoy it.”
The semi-finalist of Wimbledon 2013 was also cautiously asked about the next step in her career: “There have indeed been some requests for coaching both at home and abroad.”
“I don’t want to make impulsive decisions and jump straight to the first chance. My focus is still on doubles, I approach coaching on a freelance basis. Alison (Van Uytvanck, ed.) recently asked me to Prague and that is also how I like to do it, that is the highest attainable for me at the moment.”
“The moment I put an end to the doubles, I will quickly look for a new job. Now I will not rush and I would rather wait a little longer than play on the ball too quickly.”
Flipkens is of course still obsessed with tennis and still follows the American grand slam tournament closely. “Women’s tennis has been completely unpredictable for several years. Now Simona Halep, Emma Raducanu and Maria Sakkari are already out. You just have no idea who will make it to the final here.”
“It proves that the top of women’s tennis is very wide.” Completely different from when Serena Williams was at the top: “Together with her sister, she dominated women’s tennis for 25 years and that deserves only respect.”
“She is an amazing icon and in my opinion the best of all time. I saw her in the dressing rooms the day before yesterday and I wished her the best of luck.”
“It’s really great how she still plays here now. This is no longer about tennis. She just has to stay in control of her emotions and she is currently doing very well.”
By the way, no longer search for Belgian players on the main draw. In recent days, all four were eliminated in the first or second round.
Kirsten Flipkens sees no problem with that: “First of all, I want to emphasize how well Greet Minnen played in her match against Sloane Stephens. It is a matter of maybe getting a little stronger physically, so that she can maintain her level.”
“Elise Mertens is currently having a bad period and that’s okay. She’s been at a constant level for years and is almost always in the third round of every grand slam tournament. Give them some credit for that. She can go through a bad period and she will get there soon to resist.”
“To be honest, I see it very rosy. Our players know what they are doing. Alison Van Uytvanck also defeated Venus Williams beautifully and Maryna Zanevska won in the den of the lion of Coco Vandeweghe. It will all be fine.”