In 2001, Liezel Huber was in the middle of her professional tennis career, but was competing for her native country, South Africa.
Now 10 years later and an American citizen for three years, the Houston resident is a three-time US Open champion after she and Lisa Raymond defeated Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(3) in the women’s doubles final Sunday afternoon. Huber previously partnered Cara Black to victory in 2008 and joined forces with Bob Bryan to claim the mixed doubles title in 2010.
USOpen.org sat down with Huber to reflect on her title run and thoughts on how her partnership with Raymond has come together.
USOpen.org: Congratulations on winning your second US Open women’s doubles title. What sort of emotion did you feel after the match?
Liezel Huber: Today is a very tough day. I wasn’t an American 10 years ago. The people’s courage, strength and determination in this country made me a very proud American today. That’s first and foremost right now. Second, winning the US Open, being an American, it doesn’t get any better than that as an athlete. And lastly, regaining the no. 1 ranking has made the day even more special on such an important day. This I will remember forever.
USOpen.org: You guys were within two points of defeat three times. How did you and Lisa overcome those situations?
Huber: I never really knew we were two points away from losing the match. The best thing you can do is to stay in the moment and play every point. Because we weren’t playing our best tennis today, staying in the zone and the extra experience we both have definitely helped us. We had each other’s back in good times and bad times, and there were some bad times out there, but luckily we finished on a high note.
USOpen.org: Your partnership with Lisa didn’t get off to the best of starts but began to come together in the latter part of the clay-court season, and then shone through this summer when you won the Rogers Cup in Toronto. What’s helped you ‘gel’ together as a team?
Huber: My husband Tony is coaching us and he’s made it clear that this is not going to be an easy road. He’s told us to not put blame, take responsibility, and said this is how you need to play. I think we started on the wrong surface in clay as it was very tough, but we’re moving along nicely now and hopefully we can make the tour championships at the end of the year.
USOpen.org: And finally, are you and Lisa going to do anything special to celebrate or is it a quick turnaround onto the next event?
Huber: Well I haven’t been home in a long time… haven’t slept in my own bed since January 2nd. I will be home Monday so I don’t care what I do as long as I’m on that plane home [to the Huber Tennis Ranch]. But New York has been very good to me and we’ve had a great time. I’ve been here three weeks. My sister had a surgery while we’ve been here, so my family and friends from all over are here. We’ve made the best of our time here and I’m really grateful to the people of New York and the US Open.