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Learn more about Team USA’s doubles specialist Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
The United States’ Bethanie Mattek-Sands (born Bethanie Mattek) is a self-described “adrenaline junkie” with a flashy fashion sense, one that’s earned her a reputation as “the Lady Gaga of tennis”. But more importantly, Mattek-Sands is one of the world’s top doubles players. By year-end 2015, she was ranked World No. 3 in women’s doubles by the Women’s Tennis Association.

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Beginnings:

Mattek-Sands was born in Rochester, Minnesota on March 23, 1985 to parents Tim and Heidi. She began playing tennis at 5 years old, inspired by her dad; Mattek-Sands says on her website she “nearly knocked [her father] over” with her powerful shots.

Mattek-Sands loved all sports as a child, and possessed a particularly fierce competitive spirit. She often practiced with her father and her golden retriever, Rocky, who would pick up stray tennis balls.

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Mattek-Sands is known for her eccentric fashion sense.
Mattek-Sands is known for her eccentric fashion sense. Credit: Susan Mullane/US Presswire

When not whacking tennis balls, Mattek-Sands also played piano. She has one younger sister, Alison (nicknamed “Tsiony”), and two younger brothers, Chaddy and Andrew (“Boom Boom”). Mattek-Sands also has a twin named Sania; together, they sometimes refer to themselves as “the Bryan Sisters” – a reference to tennis twins Bob and Mike Bryan.

A more detailed (and highly entertaining) biography is available on Mattek-Sands’ website. The athlete made her professional debut at just 14 years old in 1999.

Major competitions:

As of July 2016, Mattek-Sands has won 19 WTA doubles titles. However, she has also performed well at the Grand Slam tournaments’ singles competitions in recent years.

Best Grand Slam singles results:
Australian Open: Third round, 2015
French Open: Fourth round, 2013
Wimbledon: Fourth round, 2008
US Open: Third round, 2015

Best Grand Slam doubles results:
Australian Open: Winner, 2015 (alongside the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova)
French Open: Winner, 2015 (alongside the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova)
Wimbledon: Semifinals, 2010 (alongside the United States’ Liezel Huber)
US Open: Quarterfinals, 2007 (alongside India’s Sania Mirza), 2009 (alongside Russia’s Nadia Petrova), 2010 (alongside the United States’ Meghann Shaughnessy)

Best Grand Slam mixed doubles results:
Australian Open: Winner, 2012 (alongside Romania’s Horia Tecau)
French Open: Winner, 2015 (alongside the United States’ Mike Bryan)
Wimbledon: Semifinals, 2015 (alongside the United States’ Mike Bryan)
US Open: Final, 2015 (alongside the United States’ Sam Querrey)

Olympic experience:
The Rio Games will serve as Mattek-Sands’ first Olympic experience.

Off the court:
Even while competing, Mattek-Sands has a very distinct fashion sense that has earned her the nickname “America’s Tennis Rock Star”. She often dyes her hair and wears knee-high compression socks.

In 2008, Mattek became Mattek-Sands when she married her “best friend … and Brett Favre lookalike” Justin “Bubs”. They have a huge South African Boerboel Mastiff dog named Ruger.

 

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Her hobbies include cars, shopping, cooking, hiking and watching the Green Bay Packers. She was selected as the first pro athlete “Glass Explorer” by Google.

Top quote:

“I feel like my style on court helps me be a better player, because it’s me, it’s who I am.”
Bethanie Mattek-Sands to The Daily Mail

Of the new faces at this year’s ASB Classic, one that stands out more than most is Bethanie Mattek-Sands – or as she’s otherwise called, the “Lady Gaga of tennis”.

The 30-year-old from Rochester, Minnesota, has been as well known for her outlandish tennis outfits as she is for her backhand slice.

In more recent years she’s developed into one of the best doubles players in the women’s game.

Mattek-Sands won doubles at the Australian and French Opens this year and also the mixed doubles at the Paris Grand Slam.

 

While her best results are in doubles, she hasn’t given up on singles and at her most recent tournament in Beijing, she made it to the quarterfinals, defeating world No 15, Roberta Vinci along the way.

“2015 was an outstanding year for so many reasons and I will certainly remember it throughout the rest of my career and beyond,” the American said.

“My Slam results in singles during 2015 were solid and I was happy with my level of play.

“I had some great wins over some great players but I go into each tournament believing that I can win it all.

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“But it’s now the 2016 season and I’m ready to make even more memories.”

Mattek-Sands, who has a tattoo down most of one of her arms and frequently dyes her hair an array of colours, has achieved notoriety for some of her outfits, including jackets covered in tennis balls and leopard print tennis dresses, as well as her signature knee-high socks.

Kiwi fashionistas will no doubt be keen to see what she wears at Stanley Street this week, while Mattek-Sands is looking forward to being in Auckland for the first time.

“I’ve been keen to experience New Zealand for years but scheduling, Hopman Cup and season start dates have kept me away,” she said.

“I’ve heard nothing but great things about the diversity of New Zealand.

“My husband is very much into the outdoors so he is very excited to see the country as am I.

“I did catch the All Blacks win a second straight rugby World Cup while I was in Singapore for the year end championships.

“Amazing to see a country with such a small population can dominate a sport like rugby for so many years.”

– Stuff