By David DeNicolo | August 10, 2018 | People Feature
After a crippling injury, Caroline Wozniacki could have easily given up. But that’s not her style. Instead, the blond stunner rose up the ranks, fell in love again and turned into an inspiration to the world.
Wool-blend sweater, $398, by Polo Ralph Lauren at Ralph Lauren, Southampton; ring, Wozniacki’s own.
Caroline Wozniacki has had a banner year. Her first slam victory, at the Australian Open in Melbourne, kicked things off in grand fashion. She was welcomed back to her native Denmark like a conquering hero and played a massively attended exhibition match against Venus Williams in Copenhagen (she won, 6-4, 6-3). She was honored by the Danish royal family, some of whom she knows personally. “I got knighted, so that’s pretty cool,” she says. Last November, she announced her engagement to NBA player David Lee in a tweet from their Bora Bora vacation and shared a photo of her jaw-dropping 8.88-carat diamond engagement ring (8 is her favorite number). Aside from her status as a world-class athlete, the 5-foot-10 long-haired blonde is also a style favorite, with a growing collection of fashion contracts and collaborations.
This September, the Fisher Island, Fla., resident’s eyes are intently focused on New York and her favorite tournament, the U.S. Open. We talked with her about family, hopes for the future and BFF Serena.
Do you like your nickname, ‘Sunshine’?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I don’t mind it. I think it’s cute. One of the coaches came up with it and it just stuck.
Speaking of sunshine, have you spent much time in the Hamptons?
CW: I’ve been to Southampton a few times. I enjoy it out there—it’s so calming and relaxing. I love having the beach, some green area, a garden. It’s a nice balance when I’m in New York. Last year, there was a court at the house and I would hit a few times, but mostly I’m there to relax and spend time with friends and family.
Dress, price upon request, at Valentino, Americana Manhasset; gold Tribute cocktail ring, $300, at Versace, NYC; Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller timepiece, $48,850, by Rolex at London Jewelers, East Hampton and Southampton; bracelet, Wozniacki’s own.
Victory at nearby Flushing Meadows has been elusive, but what is your take on the U.S. Open?
CW: I love the U.S. Open. It’s probably my favorite tournament of the year. I’ve had a place in the city for a few years now. The New York crowd has taken me in. I made the finals in 2009 for the first time, and ever since, I’ve enjoyed playing there. The atmosphere is amazing. There’s nothing better than playing on Arthur Ashe Stadium at night. It’s electric. It gets loud and I like that.
There are people like Billie Jean King in the house for that tournament. How does it feel to have her there?
CW: If it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t be where we are today in women’s tennis. It’s great to have such an icon there. She’s so engaged and talks to all the players.
I hear back at your home on Fisher Island, they named the club tennis courts after you. True?
CW: They named the hard courts after me—that was such a great honor. I love Fisher Island. It’s so safe and there’s so much going on. You see generations that have lived there forever: kids, parents, grandparents. You’re so close to the buzz and the restaurants [of Miami], but at the same time, when you’re there you feel so relaxed and calm. It’s an amazing place. Mostly we stay at home, but if we’re really adventurous, we’ll go to Milos or Soho House. We like the laid-back lifestyle.
Black studded pajama shirt and pants, $195 each, both by MICHAEL Michael Kors at Michael Kors, Southampton; triangle bikini top with ring detail, $295, at Eres, East Hampton; Gretchen flats with studded bow, $695, at Jimmy Choo, East Hampton; gold Tribute cocktail ring, $300, at Versace, NYC; bracelet, Wozniacki’s own.
Since you’re surrounded by the Atlantic, do you get out on the water at all?
CW: Sometimes we’ll rent a boat for a day. Or we’ll go out on the Jet Skis or do some paddleboarding. I love to swim in the ocean as well.
Sometimes you hear top athletes can’t turn off that competitive gene, even, for example, when they’re just having fun in the water.
CW: I’m competitive about everything and anything. That’s a problem sometimes. I think it makes everything so much more fun.
Off the court... any details you can share about your wedding?
CW: We’re keeping it to ourselves. All I can say is it will be a pretty small wedding. We’re really excited about it. I can’t say much more than that.
You were one of the few friends in the tennis world who went to Serena Williams’ wedding.
CW: She’s such a great champion but also a good friend. She’s so fun to be around and she makes me laugh. She’s taught me a lot about speaking up and having my own voice. No matter how much she achieves on the court, she is always the same caring person, and I really respect that.
Printed silk shirtdress, $3,575, Celeste blue knit top, $495, Celeste blue knit bottoms, $350, Medusa stud Tribute belt, $1,525, gold Tribute baroque bracelet, $850, and gold Tribute cocktail ring, $300, all at Versace, NYC; Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller timepiece, $48,850, by Rolex at London Jewelers, East Hampton and Southampton; rings, Wozniacki’s own.
How do you switch off those feelings of affection when, say, you’re facing Serena in the semis of the U.S. Open?
CW: Honestly, you just know that on the court is one thing, but off the court is completely different. We give it our all and the best player wins on the day and that’s that. It doesn’t affect the friendship. You leave it all on the court.
You are considered one of the most glamorous players on the tour. Do you think that ever takes away from perceptions of you as an athlete?
CW: I take it as a compliment. I think every woman wants to look good and dress well. Obviously, I want to be the best tennis player I can be, and I work hard for that every single day. When you have the opportunity to have a little bit of a say in the designs you’re wearing, it’s amazing. I think if you feel you look good, you play better; you can keep your focus on the ball. When I’m off the court, I love to dress up and look nice.
Who are some of your favorite designers?
CW: I love Stella McCartney and Victoria Beckham. There’s something so special about Chanel, which you can dress up or down. Reiss does great summer stuff.
Aside from fashion, who are your idols?
CW: I don’t think I idolize people too much, but I do take inspiration. My parents taught me everything I know and supported me through my whole career. I love that they’re athletes who have been happily married for over 30 years—and they’ve raised good kids. Looking to the future for me, I hope to be known as not only an athlete but, once I have a family, also as someone who raised her kids to be good people. That would be amazing.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GABOR JURINA; STYLING BY KATHERINE LANDE; Hair by Steven Hoeppner; Makeup by Taryll Atkins; Special thanks to Captain Michael at Classic Sailing Charters, classicsailingcharters.com