The Angel in a Tennis Dress
We've all seen her, playing like a demon whilst looking like an angel in her adidas tennis dress. This is the story of how Ana Ivanovic began her meteoric rise to be Number One.
Ana's Childhood In A War-Torn Country
At the tender age of four Ana fell in love with tennis after watching matches on television (Monica Seles was her favorite). She was also a clever little girl, and memorized the telephone number of a local tennis school that was advertised during the commercial breaks. She pleaded with her loving parents to allow her to attend, and on her fifth birthday, they duly gave her a first tennis racquet for her enrollment into the school.
When she was twelve years old the bombs started dropping on her country, Serbia, making her dream of becoming a great tennis player even more difficult to achieve. This was the case for many young players from this region. Fellow Serb, Jelena Jankovic has said that she thought it's what gave them all such 'a fighting spirit'.
Ana's Tennis Mentor - An Angel meets an Angel
Then Ana had a bit of luck to go with all her hard work: A thirty-six year old Swiss businessman, Dan Holzmann (co-founder of the Just Juice® vitamin company), came to hear about a remarkable young woman tennis player through his Serbian tennis instructor. Dan was told that this promising tennis career could be cut short because Ana's present sponsor might be facing bankruptcy.
It was reported by Doug Robson for USA Today that her 'angel' (Dan) reflected that when first meeting her "I asked Ana what she wanted from life. She looked me in the eye and replied, 'I want to be No. 1 in the world.' I was smitten at that moment. I took a quick decision that I would help her with financial assistance." He actively sought her out, so actively in fact that this story has become one of the most related and loved tales in today's tennis, and it goes like this:
Mr. Holzmann attended Ivanovic's very first tournament to see with his own eyes this amazing new tennis talent. Ana lost her match, and was convinced that this would be the last she would ever hear from him. She sat in the ladies' locker room for four hours, crying her heart out. The remarkable thing is he sat patiently outside the dressing room until she came out. When she finally re-appeared he put her fears to rest, later to offer her an interest free loan for what turned out to be around a half a million American dollars. It was a good deal for both of them: Ana re-paid her debt within two years of turning Pro, and Dan Holzmann is now her business manager.
Ana's Sponsorship Problems Are Now History
Ana no longer has trouble attracting sponsors. A few years ago she was offered the largest sponsorship deal ever offered to a Serbian athlete, male or female. Verano Motors, distributor of Peugeot motor cars in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia, signed Ana to a three year partnership. The President of V.M. said she was the perfect ambassador for their company, embodying their business mission of Quality, Elegance, and Excellence. Verano Motors have made Peugeot Serbia's third favorite car make, and they, like Dan, seem to know a good deal when they see it.
Despite her recent poor form, Ana has just signed a lifetime deal with adidas to promote them during her tennis career and beyond! This reflects their appreciation of Ana's pleasant demeanour, on and off court - a warm personality ideal for the Ambassadorial role they wish her to perform.
Like her women's tennis bag manufacturer, Yonex, adidas have produced a range of women's tennis apparel baring her name, to capture the enormous goodwill her endorsement brings. They even allow Ana a 'wish-list' in the design and development of her new Ana Ivanovic Dress.
Ana makes time to be an 'angel' to others
Even with her very busy schedule, Ana makes time to be 'an angel' for important causes. Recently she visited a school near Belgrade for children orphaned during the war. She said in her blog on her official website that she 'felt humbled' by the experience and hoped to visit again soon.
Such a thoughtful and dedicated young person, she's won the hearts of so many who have enjoyed watching her play superb tennis around the world. Looks like an angel, acts like an angel, and plays like the devil himself, a powerful combination. We hope to see this angel take flight on the courts for many years to come.