Carla Suárez

The Woman with the Golden Arm

02/07/2020 · By Iñigo Esteban
carla suarez copa FED openning
Carla Suárez will compete with the Spanish team in the semifinals of the Fed Tennis Cup. © RFET

Carla Suárez, one of the standard bearers of Spanish women's tennis of the past few years, will say goodbye to the courts at the end of the season. Her next move? To put herself at the service of the national team, starting on 7 and 8 February at the Fed Cup tie against Japan.

Carla Suárez (Las Palmas, 1988) along with Garbiñe Muguruza are the two names that have kept Spain on the women's tennis podium following the fertile 1990s. While Carla has been playing elite tennis tournaments since 2008, it has not yet been possible to photograph her hoisting a Grand Slam or a Fed Cup trophy, a goal that she can still achieve in the coming months. 

On the first weekend of February, during the Women's Tennis World Cup, Carla will be wearing the red national shirt at the Real Murcia Tennis Club, where she will try to take the Spanish team to the finals, to be held in Budapest in April. But that is not all. In June it will be revealed whether she will be one of the players travelling to Tokyo Olympics to put the finishing touch to her career. Carla herself tells us in this interview a few days after returning to the courts.

How do you feel about this tie?

I feel very good. I may need more time on the court, I would have liked to get to this point having played more matches at the start of the season. But I feel good physically, mentally and tennisically speaking.

And what about the rest of the team?

They’re all are very excited to have been selected by the captain and eager to play the semi-final against Japan, although some are in better physical shape than others. The good thing is that none of them is injured, which I think is the best news possible for the team.

What would it mean to win the sixth Fed Cup for Spain in April?

It would mean a lot. We’ve been trying to win this title since we played the finals in 2008. We know it’s difficult, but it’s our goal and we are set to achieve it.

Are you determined to achieve a goal in this your last season?

I want to compete in my fourth Olympic Games. I will also try to go beyond the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time and obviously win some other title.

In recent years, Spanish sports (handball, basketball, badminton…) have gone from success to success. However, as far as tennis goes, only you and Garbiñe Muguruza have managed to maintain the level of the 1990s.

Arantxa Sánchez Vicario and Conchita Martínez set the bar very high, but Garbiñe has been able to surpass them many times. I think right now it’s more difficult to find players with such a high level because players are more and more prepared and the circuit is very tough. And then there’s the fact that, in the past, it wasn’t as easy for many players to travel to other countries to compete in so many tournaments as it is now. Looking to the future, I think there are young, very promising Spanish players. However, they need to mature and to adapt to the demands of the circuit.

At 31, isn't it early to retire?

It depends. I’ve been playing at a very high level for 15 years nonstop because in order to stay on top you have to go all in and play at the top of your abilities season after season. I could go on, but there’s more to life than tennis. 

You will miss something for sure…

I will! Especially top-level competitions and the satisfaction to train and work hard and see the results. I’ll also miss all the people who have always supported me wherever I’ve been in the world. 

“I’ve been playing at a very high level for 15 years. I could go on, but there’s more to life than tennis”

What do you cherish from all these years? 

If I had to choose a tournament, I’d choose Roland Garros 2008. At a personal level, the best that tennis has given me is the love of the people. I’ve learned and experienced what the spirit of sacrifice is, and I’ve tried to constantly improve myself, which is also very positive.

Is there anything you’d want to leave behind?

Loneliness. Being an individual sport and being away from home so often, there are times when you feel very lonely. But, above all, being away from my family and my friends for so long and for so many consecutive years.

How do you see yourself in a few years?

Honestly, what I really want to do now is rest! I’m working on a project in Gran Canaria, but it has nothing to do with tennis. I might continue doing things related to tennis in the future… or I might not!