Hungarian tennis player Agnes Szavay (pronounced SHAH-veye) had a whirlwind 2007 on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. She started the year ranked 185 and catapulted herself into the 20th spot with two singles titles (Palermo, Beijing) and strong showings on the North American hardcourts (losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova both at the Pilot Pen final and the U.S. Open quarterfinals).
This success has not gone unnoticed; Ági, as she is affectionately called, was recently signed to a clothing deal by Fila. TSF talked to Ági over e-mail about her plans and goals for 2008, dealing with newfound celebrity, and — now that she’s signed with Fila — what will happen to those cute dresses from last season.
TSF: How did you go about choosing Fila as your sponsor?
Agnes Szavay: I really liked Fila’s style, I think it is very neat and fashionable. When they contacted me I did not hesitate to say yes. Fila’s designer is a very nice person and we can discuss about what I like to wear. I love working with them and I cannot wait to wear the new Australian (Open) outfit.
TSF: During the U.S. Open 2007, many people were impressed by the clothes you wore on the court. Who designed them? Were they made specifically for you?
AS: The clothes that I was wearing from July was designed especially for me by Marta Makany, who is a famous Hungarian designer. She has her own salon in Budapest called Nara. Marta will keep designing me more clothes but just off-court. I hope you will see those at player’s parties. Actually, I have already got two or three very nice dresses that I could wear at parties in Budapest. She is a very funny person and I’m very pleased to work with her.
TSF: What are your goals for 2008? Are you planning to participate in the Beijing Olympics?
AS: My goal is for the next season to keep my position and to reach the best 15. My childhood dream is to participate at the Olympics so I can promise you I will be definitely in Beijing to represent my country. It is an honor for me to be part of the Hungarian national team and I will work hard to show my best performance.
TSF: You started 2007 ranked at No. 185 and you ended in the Top 20. Do people recognize you more outside of the tennis courts?
AS: Oh, yes. Since I finished my season at least two to three TV stations and newspapers call me everyday. It is nice to be famous but I could not imagine that it would be this hard. People come to me when I go shopping and ask for autograph or just simply congratulate.
TSF: Has your success affected interest in Hungarian tennis?
AS: We did some kids clinic in the country and in Budapest as well and it was nice to see that so many kids joined just because I inspired them. They say I give them strength and an exmaple that anything could happen to you if you work hard for it.
TSF: What do you like to do you in your spare time?
AS: I would love horseback riding but of course my coach does not allow me to do it. Instead, I just listen music and meet with my friends and we got to the cinema.
TSF: Tell us about a charitable cause that you are involved with.
I represent Habitat for Humanity Hungary in my country. Through one of the biggest national sports newspapers we auctioned one of my racquets that I played with at the U.S. Open and I donated all the proceeds to Habitat. I even went to hajduböszörmény which is a tiny little town in the country and built houses together with volunteers. I had a chance to meet with my fans there and I played tennis with them. I hope I could help a little for families who live in miserable circumstances.
Note: As reported in Habitat Hungary’s Christmas newsletter (PDF), Szavay raised $3,500 from that racquet auction.