Tennis is an ever-evolving sport, challenging its athletes both physically and mentally. With each passing year, tournaments around the world offer players the stage to showcase their qualities, and so does the WTA 1000 tournament in Montreal.
However, every four years, tennis players have an opportunity to partake in a grand spectacle transcending the boundaries of their sport: the Olympics, and already one year ahead of the event, many are talking about it.
After securing a gritty win at the Canadian Open against Alycia Parks in three sets, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, Bencic fielded questions from a roomful of journalists. One query that caught everyone's attention pertained to her preparation for the upcoming Olympics, considering she's the reigning gold medalist.
Bencic's response started humorously, referencing push-ups in jest. But she quickly delved into the realities of tennis and the peculiar position of the sport in the Olympic landscape. Tennis, unlike track and field or figure skating, runs its calendar without a singular focus on the Olympics.
"Well, I'm doing push-ups (laughing). No, I'm kidding. For tennis players, of course, you have so many tournaments per year, so you prepare the same. I mean, we're not, I don't know, track and field athletes or maybe even, I don't know, figure skaters or someone that the highlight is really on the Olympics."
The continuity of tennis tournaments doesn’t allow its players the luxury to singularly hone their skills just for this quadrennial event. Tennis players must constantly adapt and juggle their physical and mental preparation to cater to both regular tournaments and the unique aura of the Olympics.
Despite the demanding tennis calendar, the Olympics holds a special place in her heart. Beyond the pursuit of another gold medal, what truly stirred Bencic’s passion was her aspiration to be Switzerland's flag bearer during the opening ceremony.
"We really play the whole year, and then there's Olympics, and then you continue to play. So, I mean, your training plan stays the same, but obviously my emotions get higher. I'm really excited. I'm looking forward to seeing an Olympics also with a crowd. And, also, I would love to be a flag bearer, so hopefully."
Such an honor, bestowed upon a select few athletes, is symbolic of their achievements and their representation of their nation’s ideals. It's an emblematic gesture, recognizing not just athletic accomplishments but also personal qualities that resonate with the country's spirit.