Tennis

Ostapenko looking for more red carpet treatment

Jelena Ostapenko was flying high after her shock French Open triumph when she was invited into the cockpit of the plane taking her home to a hero's welcome in Latvia.

Now the 20-year-old from Riga is looking for more red carpet treatment by picking up an equally unlikely Wimbledon crown.

Ostapenko's world changed overnight when she came back from a set and 3-0 down to defeat Simona Halep in the Roland Garros final last month.

Fans turned out in their droves to welcome her home, showing off hastily painted homemade posters bearing the fresh-faced image of the sport's newest Grand Slam champion.

Even the pilot of her airBaltic flight from Paris was won over.

"When I boarded, the crew came and asked me if I want to fly in the cockpit," recalled Ostapenko.

"I said of course I want to. I went there, and actually it's more interesting to fly there. The view is much, much better."

Ostapenko became Latvia's first Grand Slam champion in Paris.

Her title also represented the first of any type in her career.

ATTACKING TENNIS

She won the trophy with a breathless and fearless brand of attacking tennis.

In the final, she fired 54 winners and 54 unforced errors past a shell-shocked Halep.

Her 299 winners in the tournament were the most by any player - man or woman.

It's the kind of big-hitting which should serve her well on the faster courts of Wimbledon.

She was the 2014 junior champion at the All England Club, although her professional career at the tournament has seen a brief second-round run in 2015 followed by a first-round exit last year.

Come what may over the next two weeks, Ostapenko insists fame won't go to her head.

She has hardly had time to take in her French Open triumph, having quickly left Riga to play at Eastbourne last week, where she made the third round.

"I think I just saw some highlights once or twice of the final. I didn't watch it that often because I didn't have that much time," said Ostapenko, who faces Aliaksandra Sasnovich in her Wimbledon opener.

"Sometimes I prefer to see some other sports." - AFP

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