Barbora Strycova won over the Australian public in a big way this week, calling into a morning radio show to give her perspective as one of the several dozen athletes stuck in hard quarantine.
“They told us when we arrived that the health officials decided that if there was one positive case on the plane, the whole plane would be in hard quarantine, and we can’t even go out and play some tennis,” she explained to SEN Breakfast hosts Garry Lyon and Tim Watson. “It’s not on Tennis Australia; the last word comes from health officials, and health has to be first place. This is how it is; it’s not the best, but we have to go through it."
The 2019 Wimbledon semifinalist and former WTA doubles No. 1 is nearly halfway done with her 14 days of isolation, and has chosen to take the time in stride as she prepares for a 19th Australian Open appearance.
“I just see it from a different perspective and angle, because you guys had the hardest lockdown you could have, and we are here to play tennis," the 34-year-old said. "We are not Australian citizens, so we have to go with the rules you have and deal with it, and not complain about things like the food or the room. At the end of the day, we are staying in a five-star hotel.
"I also miss fresh air; it’s sometimes tough not to have it, because we don’t have windows that we can open. But we have to go through it."
One of her quarantine highlights was getting to build her own exercise bike, which she managed to put together in 30 minutes, and watching The Last Dance documentary about Michael Jordan.
“For now, I’m good. I’m doing what I have to do," she said. "I’m exercising twice a day, reading some books, being on social, and watching TV. Like I said, I can’t really complain. I have to be as positive as I can be.”
That positivity was felt by Aussies at large, who quickly elevated Strycova to a status just beneath hometown hero Ashleigh Barty.
“Fantastic attitude by Barbora, my new favorite non-Australian player,” messaged one listener.
“What a balanced attitude; happy for her to be runner-up to Ash,” raved another.
“She’s my favorite player too!” Strycova said of the world No. 1.
The Czech, who finished runner-up at the 2020 Australian Open women's doubles tournament alongside Hsieh Su-Wei, is set to return to action at a Melbourne warm-up event following the conclusion of quarantine.