Thanks to Carrie for sending along this translation of an interview with our favorite kid sister. It is...epic. She makes my heart guffaw and hurt, all in one swoop:
gave me freedom
Dinara Safina told OK! how she became one of the best tennis players in the world, breaking the complex of being “the little sister” and a serious psychological crisis.
It wasn’t so long ago that Dinara Safina was known only as the younger sister of tennis player Marat Safin. Then, Marat’s career declined and Dinara went on the same road her famous brother once travelled. One after the other, she defeated the top tennis players in the world and became the second ranked female player on tour. Sorry, but at press time the Australian Open final between Dinara Safina and Serena Williams hasn’t been completed. We talked to Dinara before the tournament, and OK! hopes that she will become the #1 player in the world.
This year you have made tremendous strides. Do you feel like a famous athlete?
I feel one thing: finally, all my work and diligence paid off. I got everything that I dreamed of and worked for for so long. I think I am a happy person now. Tennis has given me freedom. I never wanted to be materially dependent on my brother or my parents. And now everything that I buy, what I drive, where I live – it’s all mine, all gotten through my own hard work. [Translation -- It's not about fame, asshole.]
Surprisingly, it wasn’t so many months ago that you were thinking about quitting playing. What was that about?
I was in a mental hole and
I didn’t know if I could get out of it. I had trouble winning a single
match, I would lose my way in matches all the time, I just couldn’t
feel it… I couldn’t find a coach, not anyone who wanted to work
with pupils to achieve success. A lot of coaches liked to work
with me just because of the money, they didn’t have the simple human
desire just to help me. [C Note -- Sad face]
How did you get out of this “hole”?
Not just ... At the beginning of the year it was just horrible - I can’t even say how much I cried. I thought I’d lost everything at 20... But then I found a coach - Zeljko Krajan, and he helped me escape. He carefully listened to me, told me a million times that I can play tennis, and he gave me confidence. And everything came to us. It’s already been a year that we’ve been working together. [He's her Harriet Tubman? Gah! Sometimes I just want to shake her and yell "It's only tennis!!!"]
Does Marat support you in
difficult situations, give you some advice?
Once I collapsed on him. I was crying, "Who am I, exactly? I'm just your sister, nothing more!" When that came out of me, he said, "Stop talking bullshit, you are you and everything will be fine." He’s always said that. And I know that I have him behind me like a stone wall. [Say it with me. Marat FTW! And you know he was totally with some girl at the time she called.]
And he could recommend a coach for you?
It would be like recommending a husband ... This is a difficult question. Every athlete knows how hard it is to find a coach: you're not quite sure what you’re looking for. [Again, I get the analogy. But...oh, Dinara.]
Your mother is a coach, too. She couldn’t train you?
We tried to work together, but it was hard. Because a mother should be a mother. We already live together. And then to see each other on the court ... Sometimes, something wouldn’t go well, and my mom started to get angry, she thought that I was doing things on purpose... She took it personally. But our mother achieved a lot. Her son was the first in the world, and her daughter - second in the world. I hope that now she can just enjoy life. ["Yeah, Mom. I'm INTENTIONALLY hitting the ball into the net. Gah! How are you even a tennis coach?"]
learned about yourself from your problems in tennis?
I don’t believe anymore that people are just unlucky. You always have to look for a way out and make yourself try a lot of different things. There are no hopeless situations. [So less suicidal. Nice!]
What did you learn from your brother?
As a child, most of all, I liked the fight in his character. He can get out of any situation...
And into any situation.
That, too. That’s how our family is. We cheat ourselves, sometimes, and this holds us back. Maybe we think too much? Even if everything’s fine, we have to have some kind of stress that no one around us can fix. It’s a quality that hurts me and helps me ... I am happy that I have a brother like him. I’m sure that there is nobody else as good and as talented as he is. [Oh to be a Safin. It's like they made a deal with the devil or something.]
Do you ever fight?
Now we have a very close relationship. He worries about me, and I worry about him. If something happens with me, he is always near. Marat is very open, kind, honest. I think that’s the best kind of person. Although as children, we weren’t very close. He went to live in Spain when I was very young. And when I was 12, I also went to Spain with our parents, I had only finished seventh grade. It was hard for Mom, she wanted to be closer to Marat, and it was better for me to train there. [Nice to see the hero worship is still in full effect.]
Are you an open person?
I try to find the happiness in life. But I, for example, can spend a whole day sitting at home, Marat, of course, isn’t like that, he would rather go somewhere where there are a lot people, he’s more social. [Don't you think that Dinara just sits in her hotel room, slouched on the couch, staring for 16 hours at a blank television screen? Am I the only one that envisions that?]
Now you both live in Monte Carlo ...
Yes, I rent a two bedroom apartment. There, the conditions are better than in Moscow: there’s not so much traffic and the weather allows for training. But I’d still prefer to live in Moscow. I am closer to the Russian mentality and Moscow way of life. For example, in Spain, when you need something done immediately – a document or something - they say: "Oh, we'll do that tomorrow!" But they don’t do it tomorrow, and it’s put aside until the next day. And so on. Or you call the landlord to fix something, and he tells you, "I’ll come tomorrow." And “tomorrow” drags on for days. I can’t understand that. I like to do today what you can do today. [In Mother Russia, Time Wears You.]
You’re not lazy?
I’m very lazy, when I’m not on the court. But I give everything to my work. I have a strict routine, so that I can get to #1, and anything that gets in the way, I put off for later. I do not know what I will do in the future, but I’m going to give everything to my work.
You once shared your dream - to open some kind of beauty salon. But Marat said that if you have extra money, it is better to give it to him ...
Yes. (Smiling.) I can’t say that I’m careful with money, but I don’t spend it just anywhere, either. If I buy something, it’s only because I need it. If something is expensive, I think a hundred times whether I should buy it or not. My brother and I try to give our parents the most we can. [Wait. What? When did I miss this proclamation that she wants to open a beauty parlor? Oh, I just wrote 22 episodes of WTA Blow Out in my head.]
Do you have everything you need now?
Well, maybe I would like to have a cozy little house outside the city, so you can go there on free days and relax. Nothing showy! Just to sit at night by the fireplace, and maybe a pool table - just in case friends come. [But let's be clear. No heating, no running water, and no sewage system. A Jedi wants none of these things.]
What kind of relationships
do you have with men?
I still can’t figure this out for myself. Sometimes when I talk with a young man, some things start to irritate me so much that I can’t keep talking to him. But the most interesting thing is that I do not even know what annoys me! [Dinara Safina! She's Just Like Us!]
So, you’re still far away from starting a family?
I’m not even thinking about that right now. [Sex? What's that? Is that the thing JJ was talking about at the slumber party? Gross.]
Do you think you can be happy with a male tennis player?
It all depends on the man. It doesn’t matter if he’s a tennis player or a businessman. If he understands you, loves and respects you, his profession doesn’t matter. But probably, only an athlete can understand how everything looks like it’s going well, and you’re still not happy. Just because you have some minor things that aren’t going right.
You have size 41 feet. Is it hard for you to buy shoes? [What's with the nonsequiter questions all of a sudden?]
No, it’s not a problem. But I hardly ever go clothes shopping in Moscow because it’s so expensive here. I love classic, strong colors, especially black. If it’s something fashionable, but I don’t like it or it doesn’t look right on me, I don’t buy it. Even before I buy something I like, I think whether I deserve it or not. But sometimes I think: "I’ve worked so hard, spent so much energy - why not treat myself?" [Is black a color?]
Do you have a favorite movie?
Not really. When I’m watching a movie, I usually fall right asleep. But I really like the actress Angelina Jolie – I’m not sure why. Maybe because she helps children ... I have a lot of respect for her. [LOL]
Can you not eat when you get nervous?
Oh, going hungry – it’s not for me. On the contrary, when I am nervous, I eat even more! It’s really bad for me. I have a very strict diet, and I follow it completely. Otherwise I might ruin all my success! In principle I eat everything, but I eat meat and fish at night, and during the day I have salads, vegetables or grains.
What’s it like to win?
It changes. Sometimes, after a victory I want to cry - I don’t know why, but sometimes even when you win you feel bad after the match. Because maybe you didn’t play as well as you expected to. But when you and your rival played really well, there is a nice feeling: "I was stronger than you," That’s a great feeling… Strength.