Everyone’s dream is to be a professional sports star, right? A footballer scoring goals for your country, an Olympian winning Gold medals, a tennis player playing at Wimbledon – all sound great; but what is life really like for sports stars?
Professional tennis player Ioana Raluca Olaru gives us an insight into what it takes to be a professional sports star and what life is like travelling nonstop to new locations and living life on the road.
Born in Bucharest, Romania, Raluca has played on the WTA for many years having turned professional in 2003, and has previously been to the third round of the French Open and the second round of Wimbledon.
Raluca says of life as a travelling tennis player: “When I was younger, it was more difficult for me because I was missing my family all the time and would often think: ‘Damn, I wish I could be home right now.’ But as I grew I started to appreciate more the benefits of travelling even if sometimes it’s too much and too tiring.”
The 23 year old says that there are two sides to travelling so much: “The really hard part for us tennis players is that we have so many tournaments and matches during the year, almost a new location every week. So to get used to new conditions such as weather, time difference and surface almost every week and at the same time be in good physical and mental shape and be able to compete at our best – is tough! But on the other hand, the good part is that we get to see so many nice places in the world, on all continents, and meet different people and learn about different cultures – I would say it is definitely worth it.”
The average lifestyle of a tennis player encompasses three weeks on the road to every one week at home, although Raluca reveals that the one week of ‘rest’ is normally a mixture of enjoying being home, coupled with practicing hard for upcoming tournaments.
Speaking of her travels and her favourite cities, Raluca says: “New York is definitely my favourite city so far. I really love that city, it just feels magical and so many things to do there. Acapulco feels like you’re in a different world. You get up in the morning, go to the beach and ocean – practice and walk along the beach and three minutes later you are ready for your match. I love the whole Latin American spirit and attitude.”
Having been in the top 100 players in the world twice in her career, Raluca aims to reach the top 100 for a third time and stay there. Her favourite tournament is the US Open as it is her favourite city, and she enjoys playing in tournaments in Romania as she gets to play infront of her family and friends.
Summing up life travelling and playing tennis, Raluca says: “Even if we can’t really properly visit or go sightseeing so much while we are at tournaments, still we have great experiences, so I do enjoy travelling. Of course sometimes you just miss your own bed at home or your favourite restaurant… but that’s just part of life.”