Rivard: Pay it forward – Tennis Canada3 min read
It’s an expression we’ve all heard before.
It’s even the title of a feature film and a handful of TV shows around the world, including right here in Québec.
What does it mean? It means giving back the benefits that are received, like sharing the passion that drives you so others can discover it, too.
Enter Aleksandra Wozniak, whose new Futurs As program perfectly embodies the concept.
Since 2020, the former World No.21 has been at the helm of the tennis academy that bears her name in the lovely town of Bedford, in the Eastern Townships.
While there are registration fees to enroll in the academy’s regular activities, like the lessons, camps and clinics, Aleksandra Wozniak is launching the completely free Futurs As program this summer. In collaboration with schools, she’ll be providing young players from lower income families with pro tips and equipment.
“One of the reasons for all this is that I faced a lot of challenges when I started out. When I was growing up in Blainville, my father did everything he could so I could practice without it costing too much. Sometimes, we had to clear snow off outdoor courts and put up a volleyball net so I could play,” she recalled.
Even though she earned $2 million in prize money in her 13 years in the WTA, she could never thank her father Antoni enough for supporting her financially for so many years.
Aleksandra knows Canadian tennis is booming, and she wants to build on the very first spark that starts it all.
“To keep the amazing momentum going, more kids need to feel inspired,” she explained. “Not only to play professional tennis but to discover a sport they’re passionate about and then play in college and university. And maybe even coach. My goal is to help them get there.”
The Futurs As program runs from May to early November: “until it snows!” she specified with a smile.
To pay the bills, Aleksandra Wozniak is currently searching for funding for her new tennis dream. But until a group or corporation writes a cheque, she’ll be hosting fundraisers. The very first is on May 21, just a stone’s throw from the academy, and features eight exceptional women—authors, athletes, businesswomen and Québec’s Minister of Responsible for the Status of Women. Click here to learn more and purchase tickets.
It’s always a pleasure to sit down with Aleksandra Wozniak and revisit her 13-year career, from 2005 to 2018. She reached her career-high ranking between July 20, 2008, and June 13, 2019, when she spent 23 consecutive months in the Top 50.
She holds one WTA title (Stanford, 2008) and rose to No.21 in June 2009 after appearing in the semifinals on the grass in Eastbourne, UK.
Who inspired her? Her childhood idol Monica Seles, of course, and especially her sister Dorota, who was always by her side and with her at one of the events that remains a highlight in Aleksandra’s career: the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Today, Aleksandra is a mom to seven-month-old James, who’ll very likely be running around on and off the courts as soon as he’s able to!
“Eventually, I’d also like to be in an indoor club so our activities can run year-round.”