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Yulia Putintseva shares rare social media success story at Roland Garros
Famed for her on-court intensity, two-time quarterfinalist credits platforms like Instagram with helping show a lighter side and grow an enthusiastic fan base.
Published Jun 01, 2023
ZIPRECRUITER PLAYER RESUME: Yulia Putintseva
PARIS—At a time when social media toxicity has inspired Roland Garros to pioneer technology to protect athletes from various forms of abuse, players like Yulia Putintseva still see platforms like Instagram as a net positive.
“I think since I’ve done more on social media, people started to realize that I’m pretty cool off the court,” beamed the two-time quarterfinalist, who notched an impressive victory over Zheng Qinwen.
Making her 10th main-draw appearance on the terre battue, Putintseva has become notorious for her on-court intensity and enthusiastic reactions—long making her one of the tour’s most polarizing players.
“Since I was coming on tour, when I was 10, 12, I was already very emotional, expressing myself a lot,” she told me back in 2018. “People were already talking then, saying that I’m annoying. Come on, I’m 10 years old, screaming ‘Come on’ after each shot, and they were saying that I’m a very bad person. Come on.
“That’s [just] what I am, how I’m feeling. I’m never hiding my emotions. I think that someone who plays tennis and they’re emotional, they can understand. Every time I’m playing, there is going something on the court, some emotions. They’re not going to be sitting through a match with just no sound. I don’t know, some people like it, some don’t.”
In the five years since that conversation, Putintseva boasts a growing number of global supporters thanks to a wide-ranging Instagram account that shows the Russian-born Kazakh traveling the world, attending concerts, and striking a more relaxed pose.
“I have different personalities,” she explained on Wednesday. “On the court, I’m more focused and ready to give 100% and ready to fight. But outside of this life, I’m a completely different person, with a lot of jokes, a lot of fun, and friends. I’m just easygoing, and people are starting to see this side of me. It’s been cooler these days.”
The results were on display against Zheng on Court 6 as the crowd lifted the former world No. 27 to a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 upset.
“Oh, my guys are great!” she exclaimed. “My fan club is super cool. I love them a lot, and I hope they can come next round to cheer me on.”
A friend and attendee of Putintseva’s birthday blowout in Australia, Aryna Sabalenka expressed similar sentiments after her second-round win.
“I'm actually really happy to have social media,” she said after defeating countrywoman Iryna Shymanovich. “I use it to show people different me. You know, not only all-the-time aggressive Aryna.
“For example, after a match, [fans] will think, ‘Oh, my God, how crazy she is,’ and then they're going to watch my social media thinking, ‘Probably she's not that crazy! It's just, like, her passion for tennis. That's really great to have and show people your real personality.”
Opting to take the bad with the good, the No. 2 seed said she was unlikely to make use of the Bodyguard.ai, which would connect their profiles so that the French Tennis Federation could monitor signs of targeted abuse and mitigate its potential damage to player psyches.
“I faced a lot of hate in the past years, so I'm, like, ‘Okay, whatever. If people want to throw this to me, I'm happy to help them.’
“But I'm really happy that we have something like that, for example, for young players who are just coming to the tour, who just start playing. To be honest, I don't want them to face this hate, so it's really good to have.”
Sabalenka will reclaim her aggressive persona on Friday in a third-round meeting with Kamilla Rakhimova, while Putintseva will take on former Roland Garros runner-up Sloane Stephens.