United Athletes Magazine
– About sports and a healthy lifestyle –



January 3, 2008

Séverine Beltrame (info)
The sources of motivation
Thomas Kieller

Séverine Beltrame: All in suppleness.

Determined on the court, Séverine plays without holding back in matches strongly disputed. Not afraid to diversify her game, she offers to the public an attractive playing style where form and the technical aspects are intertwined. From the back of the court or near the net, the elegant Frenchwoman shows her combativeness and her passion for the sport that she loves. Besides, her motivations go beyond her personal results. She is particularly fond of representing her country during the Fed Cup. Despite a small step back in 2007, it is without a doubt that she will come back strong. A top level player who is evidently also a remarkable person in life.

The interview took place on October 30, 2007 at 13:15 in the press conference room of the Challenge Bell tennis tournament which was held in one of the buildings of the University Laval in Quebec City, Canada.

Prelude – Sévérine arrives to the press conference room in a relaxed manner after beating easily one of the local favourites, the Canadian Marie-Eve Pelletier, by the score of 6-2, 6-3.

2007, a difficult year
Thomas Kieller: Last year, in 2006, you finished 39th. This year it was a little bit tougher; you are currently holding the 91st place in the WTA ranking. How do you explain this drop in the world ranking?

Séverine Beltrame: I had, in the beginning of 2007, small health problems. I have been bothered by a virus during almost two months. I had difficulty to get rid of it. Because of that, I have fallen behind concerning my form and this is a big factor in the results. It’s not easy to focus on match after match. And then I had the injuries. So, I had difficulty to find my rhythm and my self-confidence that I had last year.

Thomas: Obviously, you are not satisfied by your 2007 results?

Séverine: Yes, I am inevitably very disappointed. After the season that I had in 2006, I was expecting something else for 2007. Well, the year is practically over. I am trying to finish it the best possible way. I am feeling better. I have found a little bit of my previous form. I will prepare myself well and 2008 will be better.

The Grand Slam tournaments
Thomas: In spite of the fact that the year 2007 was difficult, there are many motivating elements which can encourage you to progress. Indeed, during the Wimbledon tournament in 2006, there were great moments for you. One can remember your incredible winning streak that you had achieved. Is it during that kind of moment that we can say that all the work done was worth it?

Séverine (affirms in a joyful tone): Yes, exactly. Wimbledon was magic for me in 2006. I passed the qualification stages and then I reached the quarter-finals. During that moment, one forgets all the necessary efforts that one has to put in because it’s truly worth it. I am still ready to give the necessary efforts to live again moments like that one.

I am trying to do the best in order that everything goes well during a Grand Slam tournament, because, for us tennis players, it is the principal objective. A good result in a Grand Slam tournament permits us to improve rapidly our ranking and that goes also for the financial aspect. So, I don’t count the efforts that I have put in.

Thomas: Always Wimbledon 2006, you defeated a favourite. Exit number 10! You sent Patty Schnyder prematurely to the lockers. It was good. Does beating the best players in the world send you a message that you are surpassing yourself in what you do?

Séverine: When you beat a favourite like Patty, a true champion that was in the top 10, it is an awesome reward. When you leave the court, you feel really stronger mentally and physically.

The pressure
Thomas: Tennis is your job and it implicates a monetary aspect. This aspect combined with the obligation to deliver results brings pressure. How do you manage this pressure that goes with professional tennis versus the sport that you like to play?

Séverine: Playing tennis is the thing that I love the most, but it is also my job. It gives me a living. So, obviously, there is a financial pressure. When you do not have good results, there is no important prize money coming in and that translates itself by more pressure for the next tournaments. With a little bit more pressure, you do not play as well. It’s a small vicious circle. For a tennis player, too much stress or too much pressure can make us less effective on the court because we play with tension. If I do not play in a relaxed manner, the results will not follow. So, it is necessary to try to forget about all this stress. I have the luck that my mom takes care of the financial side for me. On another side, pressure (financial or not) can be an extremely important source of motivation because it pushes you to be better.

Thomas: Is keeping the focus from one tournament to another a key aspect to achieve at the professional level?

Séverine: Yes, the only thing that I can control, finally, is to do my best in every match: playing at one hundred per cent and training at one hundred per cent without counting the effort that I give into it. One must give everything one has during each match. The only thing that I really control is my implication that I give of myself. And after that, what happens happens.

Fed Cup, pleasure and 2008 objectives
Thomas: On the inverse side of this pressure, what are your other sources of motivation which help you progress in tennis?

Séverine: Another source of motivation for me is the Fed Cup; that is to say to play for the team of France. To represent my country is something that is close to my heart. Of course, my personal results and my world ranking are important to be able to achieve that. So, my motivation is a little divided between my personal results and in a certain way with my results with the French team.

Thomas: Do you have pleasure while playing tennis that is to say to be on a court in front of all those spectators and exchange with an opponent shot after shot?

Séverine: I have the chance to still have a lot of pleasure to play tennis. I am on the circuit since a few years. There are other girls that have started earlier and they are a little bit tired. Still, I want to taste every moment deeply. I try to live as intensely as possible. The moment that I prefer the most is when I enter on the court and than everything starts. It’s like entering an arena and all the public surrounding you is clapping for you. Whatever the result, winning or losing, it is really a magical moment.

Thomas: Do you have an idea about your 2008 objectives?

Séverine: For 2008, I have, first, a ranking objective. I would like to return at the level I was in 2006. After that, I would like to live again a second week in a Grand Slam tournament. We will see if I can reach the last sixteen! To compete in the second week, that will be just super. I will like also to reintegrate the team of France. There is a meeting in February 2008. I do not know if I will be a part of the team, it depends on my ranking. Anyway, it will motivate me for the next year.

The training
Thomas: If I do a résumé of your career, from 2002 to 2007, one notices that you have progressed significantly. Of course, from 2004 to 2005, there was a small step back of seven ranks. However, in 2006, you came back strongly with a superb year. Than, in 2007, another drop. On what aspect will you work to be able to comeback stronger in 2008?

Séverine: I think I will work a lot physically because I lost a little bit of my form due to injuries and the virus that I had. My physical preparation will be a key factor for next year. However, I think that you cannot play tennis without really playing the game. You must be on the court and hit balls. I will try to spend a lot of time on the court. I may also play in lower category tournaments in order to play with girls that are a little bit lower in the ranking. In this manner, I will be able to accumulate victories and at the same time my self-confidence.

Thomas: Are you a type of person who likes to train regardless if it’s the technical aspect of tennis or in a gymnasium?

Séverine: It does not bother me at all, because it’s something I appreciate. I have pleasure to expend my energy. When a coach motivates me in the right direction, I like it a lot.

Thomas: During the off season, will you analyse your objectives with your trainer?

Séverine: Yes, I foresee more physical training than tennis. I will work on my cardio-vascular system and on my strength. When the tournaments come closer, I will comeback to things that require more speed and are more specific to tennis.

Thomas (says jokingly): Do you expect a long discussion with your coach?

Séverine (laughs): Oh yeah, I always have long discussions with my coach… particularly since he is my husband. We talk all the time about tennis. And long discussions, I expect it.

Women tennis
Thomas: Tell me Séverine, why a spectator should come see a women's tennis match or see you perform?

Séverine: I think that women tennis has improved strongly. The game presented can be attractive for the public. The girls have progressed a lot physically. They hit the ball harder. There are long exchanges which is not the case with the boys. Moreover, there are a lot of playing styles on the girl circuit. Some stay in the back of the court. As for me, I try to go to the net as often as possible. I like to make the difference in this way. I think also that the WTA tries to make women tennis more and more enjoyable to watch with beautiful players who make an effort in wearing beautiful clothes to be pretty. If we take all of this, it can certainly give pleasure to the public. Right!