by Lindsay Gibbs
It’s time for Wimbledon, which means it’s time for Tsvetana Pironkova to shine again. The 38th ranked Pironkova made the semis in 2010 and the quarterfinals last year, upsetting Venus Williams along the way both times. It almost seems like Tsveti, as her friends and fans call her, waits until she steps onto grass to start her tennis season. With 2 big tournaments coming up at the All England Tennis Club, it’s time to get to know more about the twenty-four year old gorgeous grass-court-loving Bulgarian.
1. She’s a family girl.
Tsveti is very close to her parents. Both her mom and dad are great athletes, though their sports came off land. Her father, Kiril Enchev is a former canoe champion and her mother Radosveta Nikolova is a former swimming champion. Sounds like winning runs in the family!
Her father was passionate for tennis and became her coach at an early age. She credits her family for keeping her grounded. She also has a brother, Encho, and sister, Elisaveta. Encho sometimes fills in as her coach.
2. She’s laid back, and comes by it naturally.
She’s from the second largest city in Burgaria, Plovdiv, which is known for it’s “very laidback and slow pace of life.” Her entire family is actually very shy! Tsvetana claims that she doesn’t have very many friends, and likes to keep a small social circle because it’s hard to trust people.
3. She once played tennis on a basketball court with Carlos Moya.
I mean, who hasn’t done that? There was a tennis exhibition on an indoor basketball court in Sofia in 2010, and Moya was there. He was very impressed with Pironkova, saying “ she is extremely talented.”
4. She loves the Environment!
Tsveti serves as an Earth Day ambassador, and thinks that taking care of the environment is a top priority. “The Earth is not our home only, it will need to be the home of our children too.”
(Video in Bulgarian, click here for English translations):
5. She loves Istanbul, NYC, and Paris.
Her breakthrough in the WTA came when she was 17 playing in Istanbul, and she’s loved the city ever since. She also loves Paris and NYC, most likely because she’s also obsessed with fashion!
6. She’s not impressed by the celebrity lifestyle.
Her Wimbledon successes have given her a higher profile, but Tsveti isn’t interested in being noticed. She also doesn’t care about meeting famous people. While she’s sure she’s been around a lot of celebrities, she claims, “I don’t remember all of them because famous people don’t impress me much.”
7. She knows all about sacrifice.
Her family didn’t have a lot of money growing up and had to give up a lot to get her to the top. In an interview with Maximum Magazine in 2010 she talked about her appreciation for their sacrifices.
My grandfather, the painter (Encho Pironkov), had given some paintings to my family which we had to sell. And now we do not own even one painting of his. My other grandfather had to sell his estates. Actually, all the money of the family was spent on travel fares. And although we lived frugally, sometimes we had to spend the night at airports. But that was like an adventure for me – I was still a kid. I never felt like that was a hardship. Quite the contrary, I enjoyed every second of it.
8. She used to not like grass!
After an upset over Ivanovic in Rome in 2008, Pironkova told reporters “I'd like to consider myself like all-court player, expect grass maybe…. I grew up on clay actually, and clay and hard are my best surfaces.”
9. She has a dog named after Mozart.
Her dog, a Deutscher Spitz, is called “Wolfgang” because Mozart is her favorite composer! The dog primarily stays with her mother when she travels.
10. She’s friends with Grigor Dimitrov.
The attractive and talented Bulgarians teamed together for Hopman Cup in January, and if Grigor makes the cut for the Olympics (a few players need to withdraw to make that happen) the two will play mixed doubles together next month! Basically this is just an excuse to post pictures of the photogenic pair.
Lindsay Gibbs is a contributing writer for OnTheGoTennis. She is the author of the book,Titanic: The Tennis Story which is available for purchase on at Amazon.com. To follow her on Twitter, click here.