Tennis
Angelique Widjaja with her husband Andreas Timothy Hadikrisno, and their four-year- old twins: daughter Kelly Grace and son Ashton Gabriel. Image Credit: Supplied picture

Dubai: Angelique Widjaja, a former champion at the Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge, is living the perfect life - complete with love of the family.

Coming in as one of the hot favourites, the Indonesian teenager who was just 18 then, reached the finals of the singles and doubles at the then $75,000 ITF Women’s Circuit tournament played at the Al Habtoor Beach Resort and Spa in April 2002.

Teaming up with Morocco’s Bahia Mouhtassine, Widjaja went on to lose the doubles title to Seda Noorlander and Kirstin Freye, but came back strongly to win the singles crown with a 7-6 (4), 6-2 win against Japan’s Shinobu Asagoe to become the first Asian to win the event that is being held since 1998.

“I’ve got the best life anyone would want. Dubai has played a huge part of my tennis career but right now I have the greatest gift of a wonderful family,” Widjaja told Gulf News from her home in Jakarta, Indonesia.

“Perhaps at some point in my early years as a tennis professional, I aspired for a Wimbledon title. The bigger picture was that I always wanted to have a happy and wonderful family and today, my first priority is my family. I am living a perfect life with them,” she added.

Priska Madelyn Nugroho of Indonesia and her Filipina partner Alexandra Eala with the trophy in Melbourne
Priska Madelyn Nugroho (in blue) is turning out to be one of the worthy successors of Angelique Widjaja from Indonesia. She created quite a stir by combining with her Filipina partner, Alexandra Eala, to win the Australian Open girls' doubles crown this year. Image Credit: Supplied picture

Married to Andreas Timothy Hadikrisno, the couple has four-year- old twins – daughter Kelly Grace and son Ashton Gabriel – who she hopes one day may follow in her footsteps as professional tennis players. “Perhaps Andreas really wishes to have them as tennis players like me but I won’t force them. I will direct and help them to choose what they want in life,” Widjaja related.

Widjaja enjoyed considerable success as a junior player. In 2001, she won the singles at Wimbledon while defeating Dinara Safina in three sets to become the first Indonesian to win any title at The Championships. The very next year, she claimed the doubles at the Australian Open Junior Championships with Argentinean Gisela Dulko when they beat Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova and Croatia’s Matea Mezak in three sets - going on to add the French Open junior crown beating American Ashley Harkleroad to peak at No.2.

The year 2002 was probably the most successful one for the Indonesian in Grand Slam singles competition as she also reached the second round at three consecutive majors - French Open, Wimbeldon and the US Open. The same year, she won a silver medal in doubles (with Wynne Prakusya) and a gold in the team event at the Busan Asian Games.

In November 2002, Widjaja won a second WTA tournament, the Tier V event at Pattaya. She continued an impressive run in the WTA Tour through 2003, progressing as far as third round at Indian Wells in 2003, which enabled her to reach a career-high No. 55.

After a second round exit from the 2004 Athens Olympics, Widjaja took a break from professional tennis due to various injuries. She returned in 2006, but couldn’t find her winning touch of old, except for a silver medal for Indonesia at the 2007 Southeast Asian Games (SEA) in Thailand.

In 2008, at the age of 23, Widjaja and partner Liza Andriyani won the doubles of an ITF tournament in Jakarta and that proved to be her last competition before Widjaja called time on a promising career.

Widjaja has now tied up with her coach and former Indonesian player Deddy Tedjamukti to run a tennis academy called the AD Tennis Academy in the Permata Hijau area of Jakarta. “I have now discovered a new hobby. I cook and bake a lot, and this is a talent that I didn’t know I had when I was playing tennis,” Widjaja said.

However, she is only too keen to take a walk down memory lane while visiting Dubai – one of her earliest memories as a winner.

“Yes, I want to definitely come back to Dubai for a family vacation. Dubai has been on my husband’s wish list for a vacation for a long time now as he’s never been there. He really wants to see the beauty of that place,” she said.

“It would mean a whole load of memories for me. Let’s see when we can make this trip happen,” Widjaja added.

FACTBOX

Name: Angelique Widjaja

Date of birth: December 12, 1984 (35 years)

Turned pro: 1999

Retired: 2008

Highest Ranking: No. 55 (March 31, 2003)

Prize-money: $533,000

Titles won: 2 WTA, 1 ITF

Grand Slam (Juniors): 2001 Wimbledon; 2002 French Open; 2002 Australian Open (doubles with Gisela Dulko)