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Online Exclusive: Dane, Set, Match
When it comes to tennis prodigies, 19-year-old Caroline Wozniacki’s backstory is, for the most part, not that unusual: Born into a sports-obsessed family, she picked up a racket as a kid and quickly trounced Mom, Dad and big brother on the court. Dad then became her coach, and she won a string of tournaments in her native Denmark. Oh, and at age 10, a prince discovered her.
Frederik André Henrik Christian, Crown Prince of Denmark put a fairy-tale spin on Wozniacki’s charmed life when he heard about the aspiring little champ and invited her to Fredensborg Palace, writing her a $3,000 check to help with her travel. The Prince, a devoted tennis fan, went on to attend her Junior Wimbledon matches, and the two started playing mixed doubles with his pals on the royal courts. “He’s actually pretty good, but I don’t give him pointers because I don’t want him to beat me one day,” she jokes.
Now ranked number nine on the Sony Ericsson WTA tour, the Princess of Tennis, as she’s known in Denmark, is the greatest homegrown player her country has ever seen. Wozniacki went pro in 2005 when she was 15 and, thanks to her June victory at the Aegon International, has five career singles titles under her Adidas-sponsored belt. (She’s also the newest face of Adidas by Stella McCartney.) So far she’s earned nearly $2 million in prize money, has a sweet BMW deal in Copenhagen (she drives a black 650 convertible) and just launched her own line of organic hair and body products, Caroline Wozniacki Love All, in Denmark. It’s no wonder she doesn’t have much time these days to bat balls with the Prince. “Like once in a while, a few times a year maybe,” she notes.
While her long blonde mane and much longer legs make for frequent comparisons to Maria Sharipova, it’s Wozniacki’s killer backhand down the line, not to mention her slow-and-steady-wins-the-race composure, that’s gaining her accolades on the tennis circuit. “I’m just taking one match at a time,” she says. “I just go out there and fight for every point, and then we see how far I can go.” Thus far, she’s made it to the fourth round at a Grand Slam, most recently at this summer’s Wimbledon. September’s U.S. Open is her last chance for a major trophy this year, but if that doesn’t pan out she can always bide her time with other, more typical, teenager diversions, like shopping (she loves Louis Vuitton and Ed Hardy), listening to music (usually Rihanna or Justin Timberlake) and watching Brad Pitt flicks. “He’s getting old now,” she laments. “But there are a lot of good-looking guys out there, so for sure I’ll find a replacement.”