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Leaving the German Tennis Association came as a surprise to Barbara Rittner

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Leaving the German Tennis Association came as a surprise to Barbara Rittner

As of: March 5, 2024 7:29 p.m

Barbara Rittner worked for the German Tennis Association for almost 20 years. Their separation was recently announced. In the interview she talks about successful years and the future of the WTA tournament in Berlin.

rbb: Barbara Rittner, your separation from the German Tennis Association (DTB) was surprisingly announced in mid-February after 19 years. During this long period you were national coach for 15 years. In your opinion, what were the reasons for ending this long-term relationship now?

Rittner: I don’t want to say anything about it at this point, except that it was surprising to me too.

So further collaboration was on the cards for you.

Yes, under certain circumstances I would have continued.

You were a player yourself for a long time and then accompanied the successful women’s generation with Angelique Kerber, Jule Görges, Andrea Petkovic and Sabine Lisicki. How do you look back on these years?

Totally happy and full of pride. I am grateful that I was able to experience this time. I have a very good relationship with all of these players, especially Kerber and Petkovic, with whom I worked until the end at the DTB. It was a successful time that I wouldn’t want to miss. I get goosebumps when I think back.

“Berlin remains a challenge”

For the third time this year, a WTA tournament took place on grass in Berlin. Overall, tournament director Barbara Rittner is satisfied with the tennis event in the Steffi Graf Stadium, but sees a need for improvement in viewer interest.more

Why is it that the current generation has not been able to build on the successes of the past and why we are experiencing a small dent in women’s tennis?

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A lot of things come together there. My philosophy is that there is a lot of distraction from social media and the temptation to not fully concentrate on one thing. This is difficult. Personally, I’m glad I didn’t grow that big. You have to give the players time and be patient. We also have to adapt as coaches. You still need a certain level of toughness for competitive sports and you have to find a mix. The young generation of players must come together with the generation of coaches in order to celebrate success.

Has it been difficult for you to convey the connection between work ethic and freedom in recent years?

I am someone who cannot be bent. I believe that you can only be successful with hard work and stepping out of your comfort zone. Not everyone wants that, but of course there are some who go along with it. But there are fewer talents who want that. In the end, it may also be a philosophy of the association or individual trainers that no longer fits together.

Of the current players, who do you think will achieve a top 50 or top 20 placement in the future?

It’s always difficult to name names. For me, Jule Niemeier definitely has the potential for the top 20. In Michael Geserer she has now found an experienced trainer. Eva Lys also has potential and is still very young at her early 20s. Behind us we have good players in Noma Noha Akugue, who is still looking for consistency, and Ella Seidel, who has just turned 19 and also completed her high school diploma. So there is some talent. But there is still a long way to go and they really have to push through.

Would it be interesting for you to accompany one of these talented people as a personal trainer in the next few years?

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For me, everything in tennis is attractive. I love this sport. But I deliberately didn’t do that for the last 20 years because I didn’t want to be dependent on a player and I really, really enjoyed working for the German Tennis Association. I’m going to think about a lot of options now, but nothing is ready to be decided yet.

What the Berlin WTA tournament means for young tennis players

The best tennis players in the world are currently playing at the WTA grass tournament in Berlin. Why young talent from the region also benefits from this and which talent could follow in Sabine Lisicki’s footsteps. By Lisa Surkamp-Erlermore

In addition to your work at the DTB, you were a TV expert and will certainly remain so. You are also director of the WTA tournament in Berlin. The current main sponsor has withdrawn somewhat here. Were you able to close this financial gap with a new sponsor?

The tournament is currently called “Berlin Ladies Open”. So we don’t yet have a new title sponsor who will support the tournament in this dominance. But we are there behind the scenes and have a lot of conversations. But it’s not that easy these days. Nevertheless, we still have great supporters in the tournament. So we will definitely experience a great tournament in 2024.

They put together the tournament on grass in a relatively short space of time. Are you now worried that the field of participants could become less attractive compared to previous years?

No not at all. I’m not worried about that. We have the advantage of being in the week between the Paris Open and Wimbledon. There aren’t that many grass tournaments in between and I’ve already heard from a lot of players that they want to play. The registration deadline is only four weeks before the start. I’m more worried that we won’t find as many good partners who are consistently committed to this tournament. With Corona, then the Ukraine war and now the European Football Championship, which will take place at the same time, we always have to contend with side effects. But we carry on.

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Thank you for the interview.

Lars Becker conducted the interview for rbb24 Inforadio. You can listen to the entire conversation as audio by clicking on the cover image.

Broadcast: rbb24 Inforadio, March 5, 2024, 6:15 p.m

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