There are athletes who leave an indelible mark on our collective psyche: those who raise Grand Slam trophies and stand for weeks at the very top of the rankings and even those whose off-court performances precede them.
Aleksandra Wozniak may not have a trophy case full of tennis crowns but she certainly impacted a long line of tennis fans. Her tenacity in an era in which Canadian tennis didn’t shine as bright as it does today, her passion for the sport and generosity toward her fans earned her a place in the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame.
At the ceremony, the young retiree received a warm welcome as she walked out onto Centre Court at IGA Stadium, surrounded by her parents. Eugène Lapierre, tournament director of Rogers Cup, and Édith Cloutier, president of Rogers Communications, were also on hand.
Aleksandra turned pro in 2005. By 2009, she had climbed to a career-high ranking of World No.21 and achieved her best performance at a Grand Slam, reaching the fourth round at Roland-Garros.
She also faced her share obstacles, plagued by injuries that slowed her progress. After shoulder surgery in 2014, she plummeted in the rankings and was never able to find her way back.
In her speech at the ceremony, she took a moment to thank her fans for always standing by her, in the good and bad times.
“When you end your career, you think back to all the special times and achievements and you’re very thankful,” she confessed. “I’m very happy to be receiving this honour with my family and fans who supported me for 15 years. It was a dream of mine to play here. When I was a young girl, my parents took me to matches here. I dreamed of playing on Centre Court and that dream became a reality.”
Wozniak, who played in 13 editions of Rogers Cup, is the first Quebecer to enter the WTA Top 50 in 2008 and also the first to have won a WTA title (Stanford, 2008).
Her favourite Rogers Cup memory? Her epic 2012 run in Montréal. Then ranked No.55, she defeated No.35 Daniela Hantuchova, No. 18 and 13th seed Jelena Jankovic and No.26 Christina McHale before falling in the quarterfinals to seventh seed Caroline Wozniacki. “I had a difficult draw,” she recounts. “I was up against seeds and I got all the way to the quarters. I felt so much energy from the crowd supporting me and that helped me get through the tough moments. That’s the most memorable year.”