Why Jelena Ostapenko's weight gain should not be the main focus amid her Australian Open resurgence

There has been talk of Jelena Ostapenko gaining weight
There has been talk of Jelena Ostapenko gaining weight

There has been quite a bit of talk on social media about Jelena Ostapenko's weight gain. But really, that is the last thing people should be focussing on given her recent performances.

The Latvian has been in very good form lately, to say the least. She booked her place in the 2023 Australian Open quarterfinals by defeating seventh seed Coco Gauff 7-5, 6-3.

Ostapenko previously beat Dayana Yastremska, Anna Bondar and Kateryna Baindl to reach the last 16 at the Australian Open for the first time in her career.

The rumors about Ostapenko gaining weight started right from last year's Australian Open, where she exited the tournament in the third round. However, it is pointless to read too much into those reports as she has produced some pretty good performances over the past 12 months.

Last year, Ostapenko won the Dubai Tennis Championships and reached the semifinals of the Qatar Open. She also made it to the finals of the Rothesay International in Eastbourne and the Korea Open.

The Latvian particularly impressed on the doubles circuit, reaching two Grand Slam semifinals and winning the Cincinnati Open with Lyudmyla Kichenok as her partner. The pair also reached the semifinals of the WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas.

It is true that Ostapenko has not been able to reproduce the magic of her 2017 French Open run, where she won the tournament as a teenager. But she has been quietly consistent under the radar, never leaving the top 30 in singles throughout 2022 and almost cracking the top 10.

In light of all that, it would be a disservice to focus on the Latvian's physical appearance. If we do that, we'd miss what matters the most -- her swashbuckling tennis that has been a sight to behold at Melbourne Park the past few days.

"I needed some time to get used to it"- Jelena Ostapenko on the pressures of bursting onto the scene too early

Jelena Ostapenko in action at the Australian Open
Jelena Ostapenko in action at the Australian Open

Speaking in one of her post-match press conferences at the Australian Open, Jelena Ostapenko admitted that bursting onto the scene after being a Grand Slam champion at 19 affected her mentally and that she needed some time to deal with the pressure that came with it.

"Honestly, yes, because everybody expected you almost to win every single tournament, which is crazy because you are still a human and you cannot feel great every day. Yeah, I needed some time to get used to it," Jelena Ostapenko said.
"Of course, a lot of attention from everywhere outside the court, like photo shoots and all those kinds of things. You became more popular in your country. Everybody is watching you. Of course, it's great, but I needed some time to get used to it," she added.

At the same time, the 25-year-old declared that she never stopped believing in her chances of winning a Grand Slam again, adding that she could beat "almost anyone" when her game clicked. This Australian Open felt like one of those times to the Latvian too.

"My life changed a lot, so I needed a few years to really get used to what happened because I was really young. I was 19 and then turned 20. I always knew and believed in my game. If I play well, I can beat almost anyone."
"I was trying to work more on my consistency, especially in the preseason. Yeah, just to step on the court and play my game. I think I'm doing it quite well this week," Ostapenko said.

After beating Coco Gauff, Jelena Ostapenko will go up against Elena Rybakina in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. The Kazakh booked her place in the last eight of the tournament by stunning World No. 1 Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-4.

Ostapenko and Rybakina will be locking horns for the third time, with the former winning both of their previous meetings. The first of these came in Linz, which the Latvian won 7-5, 6-1. She then beat Rybakina 6-4, 6-1 in the semifinals of the 2021 Eastbourne International.

Victory for Jelena Ostapenko will see her reach her first Grand Slam semifinal since the 2018 Wimbledon championships.