A LOVING, WHIMSICAL INTERVIEW WITH JUSTIN SANDS
Just after Bethanie Mattek-Sands battled with Serena Williams, Inside Tennis’ Bill Simons spoke with her husband, Justin Sands:
So what did Bethanie show you tonight?
A tremendous heart and the level of player she is. That’s who Bethanie is. She came out and stuck to her game plan. You go out there and give it everything that you’ve got. That’s how she brings it every day in practice and singles, doubles – whatever.
She’s out there in the center of the tennis world in front of 23,000 people. How gutsy is it of her?
That’s how she plays – that’s Bethanie Mattek-Sands tennis. She’s going to get in your face, she’s going to play high-risk tennis and do everything she can to make you beat her. She showed her serve and volley, her slices. She’s just gritty. She’s going to do everything she can.
Why do you think she’s been able to come on so strong late in her career?
It’s the team we’ve built and the injuries she’s had to overcome. She did get to No. 30 on an average of nine tournaments a year, and if she can play a full season and feel really good…She’s already shown [what she can do] by coming back from outside the top 300 from after surgery. She’s easily back (into the) top 100. That’s who she is, she’s amazing. Every time I see her on court, I’m in awe of who she is and what she’s accomplished.
Were your surprised at all by her scoring the Slam wins this year?
Not at all. Virginia Wade said the other day that Bethanie has the best hands and volleys in women’s tennis. She proves that, day in and day out. The success she’s had in doubles this year has been showing up in her singles, and vice-versa. It’s amazing what Adam Altschuler and she have done as a coach-player relationship. He’s taken her to another level.
She seems to be digging it.
You have to. Some day it will end. You have to go one day at a time and give everything you’ve got. She embraces it, she loves it. She wouldn’t have it any other way.
One of the most important slogans in tennis is “Never write off a woman who’s been married in a black wedding dress.”
(Laughs) I don’t know if I’ve ever heard that slogan.
She bucks the trends, but she’s a few years ahead of the curve. Black wedding or colored wedding dresses are a big thing now, and colored hair. It’s who she is. Serena even mentioned the other day that she loves Bethanie for that, and she realizes Bethanie’s had to overcome a lot of adversity and injuries, being down and out and clawing back.
What does she drive?
(Laughs) She has no motorcycle now and I keep telling her not to get one. Her car is purple right now. We have a wrap on her BMW that’s Plum Crazy Purple and she loves it. [The wrap] is bright tennis-ball green. And I have a F250 [Ford pick-up] with a big lift on it that she loves to drive.
Her outfits seem pretty calm now. Is she selling out?
I don’t know if they’re calm. Everyone has accepted that it’s normal. You look at the outfits that are out there now and they are much better – they’re colorful, they’re fun, the cuts and everything. She’s been that far ahead. I don’t know if it was the leopard print that turned everyone over. She pulls that style off. She pulls high socks off better than anybody.
I saw pictures of you on the beach wedding-wise. Were you actually married on the beach?
We were. I said I would never have a beach wedding, and it turned out that we had a wedding at the beach. It just worked out that way. We actually were supposed to get married on the off Sunday at Wimbledon, and Beth was in the fourth round playing Serena on the old graveyard court on Monday so we couldn’t go up to Scotland to get married. We had to push it off, and we were like, “Where are we going to do this?” We both have family in Florida, so we said, “Ok, we’ll just go down. Naples is a good spot.”
You’re sitting there in the Friends Box and your wife is out there thrilling the throng. As a spouse and a lover, what does that feel like?
Any time she steps on the court, whether it’s Arthur Ashe or one of the outside courts where there are 25 or 50 people, she’s amazing. She’s the center of my world and I couldn’t be happier for her. She wears her emotions on her sleeve and just goes for it…She’s the same off the court as she is on the court. She’s fun-loving, charismatic and cares about people and cares about family. She’s just a great person.