Philadelphia area native and Philadelphia Freedoms director of player personnelLisa Raymond is set to play in the U.S. Open in New York next week.
She took a few minutes out of her busy schedule, after a trip to Wimbeldon a few weeks ago to talk to Metro about her hometown, her career and the future of American tennis.
Even though it wasn’t a deep run, it has to be a thrill to be able to keep competing at Wimbeldon?
Every time I walk on the grounds at Wimbeldon I know what a privilege it is and how lucky I am to still be doing it. But having said that, I’m an ultra-competitive person. I’ve never been one who just wants to play a tournament. When I show up to play a tournament I do it to contend, to win a title. It can be bittersweet. It’s great that at my age I can still do something I love to do and have this career, but I don’t want to just show up and play.
You have a long and impressive list of accomplishments, which one do you take most pride in?
I don’t think I’ve done a ton of reflection. When I won that bronze medal in London in 2012, that could have been — if not the — one of the two or three greatest moments of my tennis career. Those moments, you realize the older you get that they don’t happen very often. You cherish them.
There is a shortage of competitive Americans on the world stage, at least in the big events. What is that due to?
It could be cyclical. It’s more of a growing period for American tennis. But you have someone like Madison Keys who is knocking on the door of the top 25 in the world, and she’s certainly the future of American women’s tennis. It goes in cycles. We were very spoiled for a long time with all the great champions we have. There may not ever be another era with [greats like] Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati and the Williams sisters.
Is that one of the reasons you are involved with the Freedoms?
Obviously being from Philly I have played for them for several years. I am very close with Billie Jean King, the owner of the Freedoms. When I was approached to take a behind the scenes role with them, I jumped at it. In the future I’d love to be a part of drafting and finding players for the Freedoms. To help them find and pick their roster as well as help out on site, with sponsors and getting the word out. … I think the goal would be for, in Philadelphia, for the Freedoms to be right up there. You have the Sixers, the Flyers, the Phillies and Eagles, and then the Philadelphia Freedom.
What is it like growing up in the Philadelphia area, working to become a pro tennis star?
I will say at the end of the day, Philadelphia fans love winners. They don’t put up with losing very easily, And it’s something that influenced me. I am very competitive and I won’t go out and just pick up any kind of sport unless I have taken lessons and know I can compete. I think it’s probably the whole Rocky mentality. It’s in a lot of us and it’s about getting down and dirty and to win at all costs.