Tatiana Golovin captured two WTA titles, reach another five finals, even win a Grand Slam title, in mixed doubles at the 2004 French Open (with countryman Richard Gasquet). She had a knack for beating Top 10 players – she scored 13 victories over the elite in those four years (six in 2007 alone). She finished 2007 at No.13 in the world, peaking at No.12 early in 2008. But just as she about to crack the Top 10 herself, it all stopped. “I was at the top of my game,” the 23-year-old said. “In 2007 I had those two finals in Stuttgart and Zürich in the fall, I was beating top players, and I almost finished the year in the Top 10. I was really focused in the off-season to prepare for Australia. I was enjoying myself and moving towards my potential. “At the time I never thought I would stop six months later. It took a long time to figure out what was wrong, but they found it was a chronic back inflammation, and there’s no treatment. The last tournament I went to was the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, but I was too unsure about my back and couldn’t play.
“I’ve been doing things I couldn’t do on the tour. I’ve been spending more time with my family, which I couldn’t do with all the travelling. I have a house in the south of France, I have my dog there. I can hang out with friends more. I have more time to myself. I love learning – I went back to school last year, and next year I’m going back again. I’m taking courses in media and politics, a nice background for when I’m older and want to get involved in more areas.”It took me a year or two to start living again. Leaving tennis left a big hole in my life – it was a really big shock for me. But I feel I’m finally finding my way again.”
Golovin’s preferred career of choice is obvious, however. “When you’re born into the tennis world, nothing can compare to that,” she said. “You won’t get the same feelings and emotions you get when you play in front of a crowd, win a big match, win a tournament, see all your fans, just going to practice in the morning… actually the thing I miss most is just going out on the court and practicing hard and sweating, and going home so tired from the workout. “I can’t get that at all now. It’s really difficult to just go for a run.”