Wimbledon interview: Ester Goldfeld

Teen sensation Ester Goldfeld talks priorities, parents and potential


Aggression: Ester Goldfeld

Aggression: Ester Goldfeld

Celebrating her 17th birthday on American Independence Day, there was always going to be something special about wonder kid Ester Goldfeld.

The American this week reached the round of 32 at Wimbledon on her debut in the girls junior competition. Goldfeld accounted for Brit Katy Dunne 6-4, 6-2 in the first round but went down 6-4, 6-4 to Clothilde di Bernarde of France, despite gaining a better first serve percentage and serving more aces than her opponent in a match that last just over an hour.

Goldfeld, 16, was in reflective mood after the game following her first meeting against di Bernarde. "It would have been nice to have got a little bit further," she said. "But I think that I really underestimated her. I missed way too many balls and my unforced errors summed up my whole match."

An only child, Goldfeld started playing tennis aged four and has never looked back. She trains in Florida and her best performance in a Grand Slam to date saw her reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

During her childhood, Goldfeld idolised Jennifer Capriati and Steffi Graff. "I'm an aggressive baseliner but can come to the net if need be," she said. "I need to improve my fitness and have been working with an Australian coach, Tom Downs, for two months. I must work on my net game, serve and return."

When she is not playing in tournaments, Goldfeld has Sundays off. Her parents used to take turns to follow her to tournaments but now they stay at home. Her father is a computer programmer while her mother is a physician's assistant. She said: "Tennis started as a hobby but as I got older I started loving it more and more. My parents have always been right there. They will always support anything that I want to do. As I am an only child, they're very protective. We talk every day."

In her first visit to London, she said: "Wimbledon has a great atmosphere. It's really different from all other slams. The crowds are a lot nicer here. Of course, they root for the home players but they are fair."

So how far does she think she can go? "I've heard from lots of people that I have plenty of potential. It will take a lot of work and I know that I have to give a lot of commitment. I don't have time for boyfriends.

"I'm very competitive and can be aggressive when I need to. I've never liked losing at anything," she said releasing a wry smile.

As we went to press, Goldfeld was involved in the doubles with compatriot Chanelle Van Nguyen. They beat Britain's Natalie Beazant and Santa Shumilina of Russia 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in round one.

Goldfeld celebrates the High Holy Days with her parents at their home in Brooklyn, New York. Mixing tennis and education has not been an easy assignment for the teenager who finished school last year. She said: "I found it hard to train a lot in middle school. Education, for the most part, comes first but right now, I'm home-schooled. I have homework every day."

Her strongest subject is literature. "I love writing and reading," she said. "But history is not my favourite."

Only time will tell is she can make some of her own.

    Last updated: 9:33am, July 4 2010