June 14, 2024
Aryna Sabalenka

The No. 2 seed is in the groove early in Paris, on and off the court.

Aryna Sabalenka is in the groove at Roland Garros, on and off the court.
The reigning Australian Open champion kicked off her campaign at the clay-court major on Tuesday with an emphatic 6-1, 6-2 win over Erika Andreeva, but Court Philippe-Chatrier isn’t the only place that Sabalenka’s shown off her moves over so far in Paris.

Away form the match court, the world No. 2 let loose in a coreographed dance with the tournament’s ball kids, sound-tracked to the chorus of Pitbull’s famous 2014 party banger, “Fireball.”

But whether paired up or solo, Sabalenka’s been dancing up a storm in Paris. She “warmed up” for the tournament by busting a move in her first practice last week.

Never one to take life too seriously, the world No. 2 says that she’s had to cultivate the right mindset (particularly at the clay-court major, where she was bundled out in the first week in her first five trips to the tournament) to allow her free spirit to shine through on the terre battue.

“I think it’s all comes with experience,” she mused to reporters ahead of the event. “First times when I was coming here, I was so tight, I was so intense because it’s a Grand Slam, and with the years you realize this is just another tournament and you have to have fun. You have to be positive, because it’s enough tension on court. If you’re gonna bring this tension off court, it’s just too much.

“So for me, it’s the better way to kind of like loosen up and to keep it, I don’t know, mentally good, it’s just to have fun, of course.”

“Honestly, this is just the way I am,” she added with a smile. “Good or bad, whatever, but this is who I am.”

What fancy footwork will the world No. 2 have in store when she rturns to Chatrier for her second-round match on Thursday?

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