By Karen Ronney
As a small child, American tennis pro Madison Keys was inspired to learn the sport by watching it on television. As a top-ranked junior en route to the pros, she played on many surfaces and her favorite is hard court. Her favorite food is tacos and her favorite singer is Beyonce. Her taste in music ranges from hip-hop and rap to country. Her travel highlights and fun destinations are San Diego, Charleston, SC, and Rome, Italy.
When she is not playing tennis, Madison’ s hobbies and interests include interior design, plants/gardening, baking, shopping, watching television and spending time with family and friends. Her most memorable experience was playing a match during an earthquake in Costa Rica. She is also passionate about her charity, “Kindness Wins”, which is a platform for kindness with a special emphasis on kindness to oneself, to youth, and others in times of struggle.
“We were thrilled to speak with Madison and learn about her life and experiences on the tour,” said Linda Milan, the Executive Director of the Southern California Tennis Association Foundation. “The fans loved her on and off the court and she was a fantastic addition to the San Diego Open WTA 500. We were honored to be an event sponsor for the tournament.”
Madison’s Goals: “To be the best I can be.”
Best Quote: “I played my first pro tournament when I literally just turned 14. I lost the match. I was devastated at first…then they gave me a check and I thought, “I got paid to lose? This is the greatest job I’ve ever thought of. I can’t wait to do this again.”
About Madison Keys
Ranking: WTA Tour No 15 singles, No 59 Doubles
Country: United States
Birthplace: Rock Island, IL, USA
Coach: Georgi Rumenov
Fitness Trainer: Rodney Marshall
Family: Madison has 3 siblings, partner Bjorn Fratangelo
- Winner of (6) WTA Tour Titles
- Finalist of (5) including the 2017 US Open
- Semifinalist (3): Australian Open Semifinalist 2022, 2015. Roland Garros: 2018
- Wimbledon Quarterfinalist 2015
- US Fed Cup Team: 2014, 2016, 2018-19
- US Olympic Team 2016
- 7th Youngest player to win a WTA match at 14 years-old
Question: How does it feel to be back in San Diego and play the San Diego Open WTA 500?
Answer: It’s nice to be back in San Diego. I’ve been here for girls’ nationals many, many years ago. I’ve also played World Team Tennis here and I’m excited to have another match.
Question: You were one of the youngest players to win a pro tour match at 14-years-old. Can you share your experience from playing juniors to pros, and talk about where you are now?
Answer: When I first started playing tennis I always wanted to be a professional, but I never really dreamed I’d be in the position I’m in now with all of these experiences. I think it was really important to enjoy playing tennis. That was a big thing for me. Learning how to love to compete and being okay with winning and losing. That was such a great learning experience for me even outside of just tennis. It’s a really great life lesson. How to roll with the punches, figure things out and not take life too seriously.
Question: Tell us about your on-court and off-court training routines?
Answer: My day consists of about two hours of practice on court. But I also go to the gym an hour before practice. As I’ve gotten older, it takes a little longer to warm up in the mornings. I want to make sure everything feels okay. Then I have an hour or so of fitness and then an hour or so of physio work. At that point, my day is pretty much over. I’m tired and just want to relax, sit there and not do anything specific the last few hours before I go to bed.
Question: Do you practice with partner and tennis pro Bjorn Fratangelo a lot?
Answer: We have hit some but he has a really heavy forehand. I tell him he has to hit it flat or else we end up fighting. It’s better for the relationship if he only hits flat forehands so we don’t hit that often.
Question: What is your favorite shot and do you like to slice?
Answer: My favorite shot is probably my serve. My slices are usually the last resort if things have gone wrong. But it seems like it is okay and it keeps me in a lot of points.
Question: Do you play mixed (doubles) with Bjorn?
Answer: I’ve played mixed with Bjorn twice now. The first year I was so nervous that I could barely put a ball into the court. It was truly terrible. He kept saying, “It’s okay. I don’t know why you’re freaking out.” This year, we ended up winning a match and having a really good second round which was a lot of fun. I definitely think we will play together again.
Question: You started so young on the tour. How did it shape the way you feel about pro tennis now?
Answer: I have been on the tour for 13 years and it has been a very long time. People keep saying I’m a veteran on the tour…which seems rude (joking and laughter), but I’ve had a lot of different learning experiences throughout the years. The first year you are trying to figure it out from having success early on, and then not having success for a period of time. I feel like now I’m the most comfortable I’ve been with myself. It is about understanding tennis has a lot of highs and a ton of lows. I’ve learned to weather the storms and I’ve figured out how to kind of stay in the middle as much as possible for the most success on the court and overall happiness in my life.
Question: Do you remember your first match on the tour?
Answer: I played my first tournament when I literally turned 14, just days before my birthday. I played in a $25k event in Florida. I lost the match. I was devastated at first and then it was the first time I ever got paid for a professional match. They gave me a check and I thought, “I got paid to lose? This is the greatest job I’ve ever thought of. I can’t wait to do this again.”
ABOUT THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TENNIS ASSOCIATION FOUNDATION
Our mission of “Changing Lives and Communities through Tennis,” serves as a pathway to offer financial support to individuals and organizations. We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization and the charitable arm of USTA Southern California. We help people of all ages and abilities to improve their tennis health, tennis fitness and quality of life through the sport of tennis. Founded in 1986, the SCTA Foundation has had a community impact of giving more than $500,000 this year through tennis grants, tennis scholarships, tennis program support, tennis equipment and more to recipients throughout Southern California. To learn more about the Southern California Tennis Association Foundation, please visit sctafoundation.org.