‘Best morning of my life’: Sabalenka celebrates Slam breakthrough
New Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka didn’t get much sleep Saturday night after a rambunctious come-from-behind victory, but you wouldn’t have known it early on the morning after.
“I still feel like I’m on another planet trying to understand what just happened,” Sabalenka replied to a question while revelling in a photo shoot at Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.
Resplendent in a glamorous pink dress and wearing high heels instead of her usual tennis pumps, Sabalenka took to a boat and glided around a lake with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup clutched firmly in hand.
The powerful Belarusian, who will become world number two on Monday, showed a new side to her personality, posing effortlessly in front of the cameras.
She even managed a few high kicks, despite being understandably stiff after being taken to three gruelling sets less than 12 hours earlier by Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.
“How are you still managing to do that?” she was asked.
“I have no idea,” a slightly wincing but ebullient Sabalenka laughed, before cracking open a bottle of champagne and spraying it in celebration, Formula One-style.
“I like to pose. Especially when you’re a champion,” she chuckled, when asked whether she was enjoying the trappings that come with being a major winner.
“I think it’s the best morning of my life. It’s so beautiful.”
Serenely being photographed by the world’s media at one of Melbourne’s most picturesque locations was a scene Sabalenka could have scarcely imagined 12 months earlier.
Her serve was in pieces, leaving her in tears as her confidence was shredded under attacks of debilitating nerves.
Now Sabalenka is enjoying the feeling of becoming a Grand Slam champion at the age of 24 – and finally conquering her inner demons.