“There’s something missing in my trophy cabinet.”
Wayne, Pa.’s Lisa Raymond has pretty much done it all over her almost 20-year tennis career: She is a Grand Slam-winning doubles tennis player with a total of six Grand Slam women’s doubles titles and five Grand Slam mixed doubles crowns, She has reached No. 1 in the world doubles rankings (twice) and she has made millions on the court.
One thing has however eluded the soon-to-be 39-year-old.
“For me the one thing I’m missing in my career is a medal from the Olympics,” Raymond told NBC10 while playing in a warm-up tournament in California the week before the Olympics begin. “I’ve won slams, I’ve gotten the rankings, I’ve won the tournaments but to be on that podium that’s something I’ve never done, I’ve never achieved.
“It would probably be the greatest moment of my tennis career.”
Raymond teamed up with tennis legend Martina Navratilova in 2004 to try and win that hard to get medal but the duo came up short. Raymond then failed to make the 2008 team as she dropped off the world radar for a while. It didn’t look like Raymond would ever get the chance again to win gold for her country.
“If you would have asked me years ago if I would still be playing tennis at this age I probably would have laughed at you. There were a couple years where I kind of lost my way a little bit both on and off the court… I wasn’t focused on my career and my tennis and I was kind of at a crossroads if I would have even kept playing.”
Raymond hopes that doubles partner, 35-year-old Liezel Huber, helps her finally realize that goal of winning gold for the United States.
“One of our biggest assets is our experience… I think every time we step on the court together we use that against, especially, younger teams or teams that have just formed. We rely on that when we get into tough situations.”
The duo, which only got together just last year and won the 2011 U.S. Open title also have another claim to fame: the No. 1 ranking on the World Tennis Association’s women’s doubles list.
At 38 years old, she turns 39 less than a week after tennis wraps up at the London Games, Raymond is the oldest women ever ranked No. 1 in the world taking that distinction from her friend and tennis legend Billie Jean King.
“Just to be mentioned in the same sentence as Billie is always quite an honor.”
So what’s her secret to longevity?
“You have to really enjoy it.”
Well that, being willing to take time off to rest the mind and body and a little luck.
“Knock on wood, I’ve been very lucky with injuries -- I’m fortunate the fact that I haven’t been injured much in my career. And I’m proud of the fact that I’ve stayed healthy and fit and I’m probably the fittest I’ve been at the ripe old age of 38.”
And playing at Wimbledon -- where Raymond and mixed-doubles partner Mike Bryan just won less than a month ago -- could help Raymond’s golden aspirations thanks to her Philly-area upbringing.
“I’ve always loved playing on grass I spent a lot of my years growing up at Philly Cricket (Club)… And my game has just always computed very much for grass – I like to come in, I have a slice backhand and I like to volley.
“The fact that the Olympics are being at Wimbledon, on grass, is definitely something I’m not complaining about.”
If Raymond and Huber win would Raymond be willing to retire?
“It would certainly put a huge cap on my career. I’ll put it that way.”
So would she really hang up her racket?
“No, no, no, not yet,” she said with a laugh.
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