Ana Bodgan, Professional Tennis Player
I’m a professional tennis player born in small town in Romania. I’m very ambitious and extremely optimistic. For me, playing tennis makes me push my limits every time I step onto the court or enter the gym. Tennis teaches you what actually life means, with its ups and downs, with the wins and losses, with its bests and worsts. And it teaches you that if you fall 7 times, get back up 8.
FROM SKIING TO TENNIS
I started skiing when I was 2 years old because both of my parents were professional skiers. My father was also the head coach of the national team. I was 100% involved in skiing for a couple of years so, in theory, my future was to be in this sport. Also, Sinaia, my hometown, is located in a mountainous area, so it was the perfect environment in which to become a professional alpine ski racer.
But, when I was four, I picked up a tennis racket for the first time. I played a little bit during that summer, but I stopped after two months.
"There was nobody who played tennis in my hometown and there was only one tennis court."
When I was 8, I started to play again just for fun during that winter, because there was no snow on the mountains. From that moment, my entire life changed, and my parents decided that tennis would take priority and that I would do it professionally.
I started competing in international tournaments on a junior level (ages 13-18). I played my first tournament and won it at the age of 13. Everyone said it was the path I needed to take.
"It was the competition that captivated me."
I loved the feeling, the emotions of competing, but, at that age, I had no idea what I was getting into in my first tournament. No one told me that my opponents ranged in age from 13 to 18. I was one of the youngest players! I didn’t realize anyone’s age until after I won. My mom started to explain everything. “You know what you won? You played against players aged 17-18 this tournament and you made it in your first ever ITF Juniors Circuit tournament!” she said. I had been so nervous; I couldn’t believe it happened.
As a junior tennis player, I became no. 2 in the world. My best result was the semifinals of a Grand Slam, the Australian Open juniors tournament. As a senior tennis player, I won 11 ITF Women Circuit tournaments. My highest ranking was 59 and I won matches against top 20 and top 10 players, Elena Vesnina and Kristina Mladenovic, last year.
FOCUSING YOUR MIND
When you get to the court, the competition is with yourself. You fight with yourself and your feelings, then with the ball and then with the opponent. You need to win against yourself - you have to control your mind, body, and feelings - if you can’t control these elements of yourself, then you can’t hit the ball properly and you will not be able to reach your full potential.
I started working with a mental coach in March this year. I felt like I couldn’t control my feelings during important points during the matches. Also my new coach is great; he helped me discover myself, is patient, understands my needs, and works on my weaknesses. His work is based on who I am and what I want to do. We do visualization exercises--I visualize the game, being on a court against a top player and so on.
"The best tip I got from him was to meditate more."
Before I started working with him I was very anxious--I had many thoughts running through my head constantly, not just during sports, but in my personal life as well.
I use the app Calm. Actually, after using the app for a couple of days, I already felt a lot better. My coach told me that he cannot work with me if my mind is not calm and empty of unneeded thoughts. So every morning and night when I feel I’m not at peace, I use Calm. My favorite meditation is the body scan.
TRAINING AND WINNING
I was trained by my father for over 13 years. I stayed in my home town of 10,000 people. I trained exclusively with my father and a ball machine. Occasionally, he would bring a sparring partner from Bucharest. Sometimes, other Romanian players would come and play. But a lot of the time it was just me and the ball machine. After a while, I started playing with my sister, Ioana. She’s 7 years younger than me. She played for a couple of years and we practiced together. And three years ago, I decided to steer my life in a different direction. I took it in my own hands and moved to Bucharest with my fiancé.
BECOMING WHO I WANT TO BE
My biggest challenge so far was discovering and finding myself in the last few months. Five or six months ago, I went through a very difficult period with my personal life which certainly affected my tennis career.
I realized that I want to change, change myself, change the way I do things and have positive people around me. I tried to find a way to discover myself and I had a tough time, on and off the court. I came to a point where it didn’t even make sense to continue playing tennis. Since I started meditating, my mind calmed down. My inner voice started to speak. I had a lot of patience with myself. I started to feel more positive.
"I focused on finding joy and loving what I do. My next goal is winning a WTA tournament."
I played six semifinals so far, and I’m hoping for a final or a win next time. Of course, being number 1 is the biggest aspiration, but there are some steps before reaching that triumph.
BREAKING YOUR OWN LIMITS
The feeling of playing a match captivates and inspires me. Nothing compares to the emotions of being in front of thousands of people. I recently played at Wimbledon on Court no.1 in front of a big crowd, which was a very powerful experience for me. These kind of moments make me feel like all the hard work is worth it. I also know that achieving my goals can inspire others. Providing others with inspiration keeps me motivated every time I step on the court.
"I know that thousands are watching me, and I want to be an example of a strong, powerful woman for them."
I strongly believe that you need to focus on yourself. Your life is about breaking your own limits and pushing yourself to live your best life. You are not in competition with anyone else, so plan to outdo yourself not other people. Federer said you are playing the ball, not playing your opponent.
FRÉ FOR ATHLETES
I was really happy to discover FRÉ. I was looking for products for professional athletes, for people working out in the sun and sweating. Nothing I used before was as good as FRÉ for active, sweaty skin. I actually found FRÉ online through Instagram. The great part is that the two founders are huge tennis fans!
My biggest skincare challenge is keeping my skin protected from the sun, especially my face. We spend so much time in the sun. It’s difficult to find products that stay on when you play and sweat - I tried PROTECT ME and GLOW ME; both are excellent. DETOX ME is actually the best mask I’ve ever found - it’s so easy to use and you don’t need to keep it on forever to clear your skin.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
Agility exercises for tennis and sprints.
What comes to mind when you think of FRÉ?
Free your skin!
What are you most excited about in life right now?
Enjoying every single moment I have - practicing, and working hard
What’s something you’d still love to learn?
I have a lot to learn! I want to improve mentally. I have to be tougher in the toughest moments. I need to focus more. I need to improve every day physically.
Who do you admire the most?
My idol Lindsey Vonn - the best skier of all time - she’s the greatest. She has won Olympic medals despite very tough injuries and surgeries.
What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received in your life?
Never give up. Never.
What is an issue that you wish a lot of us would be talking about a lot more often?
People should be kinder and see the positivity and beauty in their lives. In recent years, we have been focusing on the bad. We don’t take care of the world around us, especially our oceans and animals. Life is beautiful if you just look around you. And the more good you see, the more you attract it.
What does it mean to be a woman today?
Women are powerful, strong and ambitious, but they are also sensitive. We can achieve so many things.
What is a skincare tip or trick you swear by?
Now that I have the FRÉ travel set I take it everywhere in my tennis bag. I always clean my face with PURIFY ME after a workout and put on REVIVE ME or PROTECT ME, depending on the time of day. Hydration is so important. And I NEVER go to sleep without removing my makeup.
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