Julia Görges in Melbourne: tennis only as a spectator – sport

Julia Goerges, 34, turning the corner near Parliament Station, art print sweatshirt, dangling purse, smile. She looks, yes, I can say so, upbeat and fit, ready to pack her racquet bag for a doubles match at Margaret Court Arena with longtime partner and friend Karolina Pliskova. But no, now Görges leads a different life, and as relaxed as she sounds, she is content with this life. “When I used to be in Melbourne, there was always pressure, stress and tension. Now it’s just like a holiday,” she says. Nobody here would suspect that this person shaped German women’s tennis for 15 years like only a few.

She won seven WTA tournaments, was number nine in the world, and was in the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2018, her greatest success. Then the cut, radical. The professional tennis chapter has been closed for her since October 2020, she ended her career without a theater, without advance notice and without regret, a typical Görges action. She had always been the brightest of the golden generation in Germany, which also included Angelique Kerber, Andrea Petkovic and Sabine Lisicki counted. This style is still felt. You make an appointment in a café, then she is there, on time and present, even on the other side of the world.

She accompanies, that’s the reason for her trip to Melbourne, her life partner Wesley Koolhof, 33, who is number one in the world rankings in doubles, so a really good one. But that’s their only connection to tennis. She last played in October, at a show competition in Luxembourg. She gave up tennis. So much so that she admits, “I wouldn’t say come on, let’s play tennis for an hour.”

The younger players like Jule Niemeier and Eva Lys have to be given time, Görges thinks

When she recently accompanied “Wes”, as she calls Koolhof, the son of former Dutch soccer player Jurrie Koolhof, to his first game in doubles, the hustle and bustle of the game came to her Melbourne Park really exhausting. “It draws a lot of energy,” says Görges. “Previously, people didn’t see it that way.” She even asked herself: “Wow, how did I make it through the 15 years on the tour?”

Australian Open: Great success: In 2018 Julia Görges in Wimbledon could only be stopped by Serena Williams in the semifinals.

Great success: In 2018 Julia Görges could only be stopped by Serena Williams in the semi-finals at Wimbledon.

(Photo: Glyn Kirk/AFP)

In any case, Görges has mastered the transition from the bubble, as she calls the tennis tour, some stumble. And it is certainly also a success that, although she no longer feels like playing tennis, she does not speak bitterly about this cosmos, which has been her life for a long time. She now lives on the Dutch border, an hour from Düsseldorf. A house in the country, a dog from an animal shelter, no tennis in sight. And how is it? “Great, I love it!”

But she is still chasing the German players. She thinks you have to give the younger players like Jule Niemeier and Eva Lys time – it also took her, Kerber, Petkovic and Lisicki to free themselves from the overpowering shadow of Steffi Graf, the comparisons were always there, “we simply swam in and asserted ourselves”. Her tip to the new generation: talent is all well and good, “but persistence and diligence are at least as important, if not more so”. And she also knows one thing: “It’s a crazy world, not everyone is made for it.” You have to be tough. It was Gorges.

Ashleigh Barty just invited her to a barbecue – the two are still close friends today

Today she does a lot of yoga and meditation, deals with the topics of body and health, writes a bit for herself, maybe one day it will become a book. Görges is in no hurry, that’s also a freedom that she didn’t know before. As a professional, “everything was structured and clocked through”, tournament here, tournament there, home, gone again. Stress, yes, but you didn’t have time to think, there were always tasks. “But of course I’m grateful and proud that I was able to experience all this,” she emphasizes. She earned almost ten million dollars in prize money, a sum that also expressed her reliability at the time. And now gives her freedom.

In Melbourne, she casually slips it out, the day before she was at Ashleigh Barty’s, she was invited to the barbecue. On that occasion, Barty, who had surprisingly stopped last year as the Australian Open winner and number one in the world, gave her her recently published biography. “She expected 8,000 or 9,000 copies to be sold,” says Görges, “so far 75,000 have been sold.” barty is in Australia what you mean by the word star, but when Görges is with her, they’re just Ash and Jule. You meet at eye level. The German would actually never stick out.

Görges will continue to be occasionally on the tennis court in the coming days, she was here three times in singles in the round of 16, in doubles even twice in the semifinals. Koolhof will only accompany her sporadically, he can beg if she doesn’t come with him more often, but Görges makes it clear with amusement: “Well, he knows how I tick.” She still has her own mind.

Görges says goodbye, Koolhof is currently training. She has time to herself. “I’ll move on then.” She needs to exchange some things she bought. She smiles while walking.

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