Saturday, July 01, 2017

Babe of the Month - Russian Beauty Elena Vesnina

Elena Sergeyevna Vesnina was born on 1st August 1986 in Lviv, Ukraine and represents Russia as a professional tennis player.

When Lena was 6 years old, her mother Irina took her daughter to the Sochi tennis school under the guidance of the late Yury Yudkin, who was also Maria Sharapova's first tennis mentor in the early 1990's.

In October 2002, aged 16 years and two months, she gained direct entry into the qualifying draw for her first $10,000 tournament at Giza, Egypt, and succeeded in qualifying for the main draw.

Her career-high rankings are World No. 13 in singles (March 2017) and World No. 3 in doubles (June 2017).

Vesnina is a three-time Grand Slam champion in doubles competition, having won the 2013 French Open and the 2014 US Open tournaments with Ekaterina Makarova, and the 2016 Australian Open mixed doubles title with Bruno Soares.

Representing Russia in the 2007 Fed Cup final against Italy, Elena defeated Mara Santangelo in straight sets. In the 2008 Fed Cup final Ekaterina Makarova made her debut in the doubles match with Vesina winning their doubles match as Russia confidently defeated Spain 4–0.

Vesnina participated in the 2009 ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand in January. It was here that she advanced to her first final on the WTA Tour, upsetting the tournament's sixth-seed Nicole Vaidišová in the second round and the second-seed Caroline Wozniacki in the quarter-finals along the way. She then prevailed in a marathon semi-final against British No.1 Anne Keothavong with a score of to set up a meeting with fellow Russian and tournament first-seed Elena Dementieva in the Final.
She started strongly in the match with a 3–1 lead but eventually lost to Dementieva.

In 2009 Elena reached her first Grand Slam final in the doubles at the French Open partnering Victoria Azarenka. The pair were seeded 12th but lost in the final to the 3rd seeds and defending champions Virginia Ruano Pascual and Anabel Medina Garrigues.

In 2010 At the Wimbledon Championships Vesnina made it to her second Grand Slam final in doubles while partnering Vera Zvonareva. The pair scored some impressive wins over the top seeded Williams Sisters in the Quarter finals (which ended the Americans 27 match winning streak in Grand Slam doubles matches) and over 4th seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta in the semifinals. In the final they fell to fellow unseeded pairing Yaroslava Shvedova and Vania King.

In doubles in 2011, Vesnina along with Sania Mirza won the finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California by defeating Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Meghann Shaughnessy. Then the pair won their second doubles title of the year at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina by defeating Mattek-Sands and Shaughnessy again.

Together with Leander Paes, she reached the 2012 Australian Open and the Wimbledon Mixed Doubles finals.

In 2013 Vesnina won her second WTA tour title at the Aegon International in Eastbourne. En route to the final, she defeated Ana Ivanovic in the first round and Heather Watson in the second. She then went on to beat second seed Li Na in the quarter-finals and Yanina Wickmayer in the semi-finals. In the final, she easily dispatched American Jamie Hampton to win her first grass tour event (above).

Vesnina and Makarova won their second major doubles title at the 2014 US Open.

In 2015 the pair reached the Wimbledon Doubles final, but lost to longtime-rivals Hingis/Mirza.

At Wimbledon last year, Elena competed in her first Grand Slam Singles semi-final with straight set victories over Tamira Paszek, Andrea Petkovic, and Julia Boserup in the first three rounds before outlasting good friend and doubles partner Makarova in three sets to advance to her first slam quarter-final. She then easily defeated Slovak Dominika Cibulkova to continue her resurgence into the semi-finals where she was was defeated by World No.1 and eventual champion Serena Williams.

At the start of 2016 at the Australian Open, Elena Vesnina and partner Bruno Soares reached the Mixed Doubles final where they defeated Coco Vandeweghe and Horia Tecău, which marked her first mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

In July 2016 Elena and Ekaterina won their first tournament title at the Rogers Cup in Montréal, Canada, and then they went on to win a gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Rio for Russia a few weeks later - this was the very first time that any Russian duo had won an Olympic doubles event.

2017 began well for Vesnina. At Indian Wells in March and seeded 14th, Vesnina defeated Shelby Rogers and Timea Babos to set-up a fourth round meeting with Angelique Kerber, who was guaranteed to return to world no.1 at the end of the tournament. Vesnina beat the US Open champion, before defeating Australian Open runner-up Venus Williams and the in-form Kristina Mladenovic to reach her first Premier Mandatory final. In an all-Russian final against Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vesnina came from a set down to win her 3rd WTA singles title, her first since 2013 and the biggest of her career so far, in just over three hours. With this victory, Vesnina climbed to a career high ranking of 13.

Overall Elena's career stats show: 3 WTA (Women's Tennis Association) Singles wins and a Wimbledon Singles Grand Slam semi-final, 15 WTA Doubles victories, 2 Grand Slam Double titles and an Olympic Doubles Gold Medal, along with a Grand Slam Mixed Doubles title.

To date Elena has won in career prize money alone, somewhere in the region of US$ 8.6 million.

Elena is seeded number 15 in the 2017 Wimbledon Ladies Singles Championships, and number 2 in the Wimbledon Ladies Doubles with Ekaterina Makarova, which begin next week.

You can follow Elena on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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