The Croatian will serve for the first time at the Bad Homburg Open presented by Engel & Völkers (June 24 to July 1). One could describe it casually like this: Donna Vekic has long been a fixture on the professional tour.

It was almost eleven years ago that she played her first WTA match in 2012 – at the age of just 16. Back then, Vekic even made it to the final of the Tashkent tournament as a qualifier. After a few setbacks due to injury, things are going quite well for her again this season: In January 2023, Vekic reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and shortly afterwards secured her fourth WTA singles title overall at the event in Monterrey, Mexico. Incidentally, she beat last year’s Bad Homburg Open winner Caroline Garcia from France in the final.

April Fool’s Day! Donna Vekic jumps US icon Chris Evert to the side

Vekic is someone who can laugh at herself from time to time. When the US Open announced in an official post on April 1 that pros at the season’s final Grand Slam tournament at Flushing Meadows 2023 would be allowed to use artificial intelligence (AI) as a coaching aid during matches, icon Chris Evert bristled at the supposed innovation. But don’t get excited, dear Chrissie! Vekic jumped to Evert’s side, tweeting to her address with a smiley face, “An April Fool’s joke. I fell for it too.“

The world No. 22 from Osijek, who describes herself as “strong-willed, determined and extremely competitive,” is popular on the tour. But early on, Vekic felt the pressure of expectation to which all extremely promising talents are exposed. There was talk of a “prodigy”. She was repeatedly compared to Maria Sharapova – in her younger years more of a burden than an incentive for the two-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist (Australian Open 2023, US Open 2019). Especially since Vekic has also been repeatedly plagued by injury.

Pam Shriver on the team: “Wants to hear things that make you better!“

The sports enthusiast’s family is and remains a great support: father Igor was a soccer goalkeeper, mother Brankica a hurdler. From 2017 to 2020, Vekic was coached by former Angelique Kerber coach Torben Beltz. Most recently, Pam Shriver was also part of “Team DV.” The US American, who won 20 Major titles in doubles with Martina Navratilova between 1981 and 1989, among others, is known for her clear and consistent speeches. Vekic appreciates that, because “at the end of the day, as a player, you want to hear things that make you better!” In the current season, Vekic has been convincing, appears to have matured considerably and has risen 47 places in the WTA rankings since the beginning of the year.

The 26-year-old wants to continue her upswing in the historic Kurpark. She, who some experts already had on their radar as a potential Wimbledon winner – and still do.