Barbora Krejcikova: Five things to know about the 2021 French Open winner

Czech hitter Krejcikova won her first ever singles Grand Slam at Roland Garros, but did you know Jana Novotna was her mentor? Here are five things about the Czech Republic's newest singles star.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Barbora Krejcikova is the Czech Republic's newest tennis hero after she won the French Open on Saturday 12 June.

Krejcicova, unseeded in Paris, defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, to win her maiden Grand Slam in her first ever final, and she received the trophy from Czech-born legend Martina Navratilova, a moment she said she's dreamed of since she was a little girl.

Last year when the Czech champion defeated Tsvetana Pironkova in the third round at Roland-Garros she was still ranked outside the Top 100, this year she's topped the podium in Paris and on her way to a world top-20 ranking.

In the final the momentum swung back and forth, the 25-year-old Krejcikova had a shaky start losing her serve in the first game before steamrolling through six games straight to claim the first set.

Then Pavlyuchenkova found her fire to turn the tables and take set two 6-2, but her opponent was not to be denied, claiming the third set and the title.

Despite the absence of World No.2 Osaka Naomi and the media attention around her reasons not to participate, it is a remarkable victory for Krejcikova who had a hard road to the final defeating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens, fifth seed Elina Svitolina, 17th seed Maria Sakkari, 24th seed Coco Gauff and Ekaterina Alexandrova who's ranked 32 in the world.

After an unforgettable final, the Czech champ has earned her first massive moment on the tennis singles' stage, and it may be the first of many.

After the match the winner was thankful to have fans back cheering in the stands:

"I just want to thank everybody for coming today and cheering for us, there was the biggest support and the biggest energy, and in these bad times during this pandemic it's very nice to see all of you here, I think you so much, it was amazing."

Here are five things to know about Barbora Krejcikova:

1. Krejcicova: Triple Threat

Born on December 18, 1995 in Brno, Czech Republic, Krejcikova started playing tennis at 6 but up until the 2021 French Open she was known mostly as a doubles player.

A former world No 1 in women’s doubles, she partnered with Katerina Siniakova to two Grand Slam titles at Roland-Garros and Wimbledon in 2018.

Krejcikova has also had plenty of success in mixed doubles, winning three Australian Open titles - two with Rajeev Ram (2019 and 2021) and one with Nikola Mektic (2020).

Now she's established herself as a triple threat by completing the clean sweep with a singles Grand Slam.

“I always believed that I could play singles as well," she said in April, "It just took me a little bit longer to get there. For me it’s really tough with the confidence. I just try to be really positive, but I feel I was raised to expect things to be very hard and to not feel confident. For me it’s a bit harder to change that.”

2. A singles/doubles double?

After a dramatic semi-final 7-5, 4-6, 9-7 victory over Maria Sakkari on Thursday 10 June, Krejcikova returned to the court on Friday with doubles partner Katerina Siniakova to record a 6-1, 6-2 win over Magda Linette and Bernard Pera to set up two finals in two days.

The Czech star could become the first since Mary Pierce 21 years ago to lift both trophies, and she's already matched fellow Czech player Lucie Safarova in 2015 by reaching both finals in the same year.

3. Inspired and mentored by Jana Novotna

Krejcikova was only a year old in 1996 when Czech great Jana Novotna won her Olympic doubles silver medal at the Atlanta Games, but Novotna the national hero was still a huge inspiration for her.

Novotna won three Olympic medals, one singles Grand slam at Wimbledon, 12 Grand Slam women's doubles titles and four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.

When she was 18 Krejcikova read that Novotna lived near her hometown Brno, and went knocking on her door to ask advice on becoming a professional tennis player.

Novotna invited her in and the two hit together, it didn't take long for Novotna to see the potential in this young determined girl and offered to coach a young Barbora.

Sadly Novotna fell ill not long after and couldn't continue as her coach, but always remained a mentor and a supporter. Novotna passed away in 2017 but left a deep impression on her young protégé.

When Krejcicova made the singles final on Thursday, she said in the post-match on-court interview that her ex-coach was "looking after" her thanking:

"Jana Novotna from upstairs ... She was really looking after me.

"And I really miss her and I just want to thank her because ... because of her I'm here. It's really important to me to say this out loud."

4. Barbora Krejcikova: Family

Family forms a crucial part of this tennis champion's world.

She's proud of being an aunt to a niece and a nephew and made a point of mentioning her friends and family in her acceptance speech on Saturday, thanking:

"...everybody back home, my family, my mum and my dad, my brothers, my niece and nephew... I cannot believe what just happened, I cannot believe I just won a Grand Slam."

She also talked about the win as "something I'm going to tell my kids," revealing some future plans.

5. Barbora Krejcicova: Embroidery?

Active on social media, the Czech heavy hitter has over 22,000 followers on Instagram, 5,000 followers on Twitter, and 8,000 fans on Facebook.

Sharing travel pics from around the world as she tours, one surprise is that she has time for anything else but tennis.

Seems she does find a few minutes here and there to weave more than just her magic tennis wand however:

"The cherry of my embroidery career just arrived," she says on her Instagram account.