Andrea Petkovic hopes to make a positive impact in Brazil

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Pereira is one of four All England Club players born in Brazil

When I was growing up, tennis was one of the few things in Brazil that was a national sport – you were definitely expected to play.

While Brazilians used to play and teach tennis at school, I remember when I was three or four that my father would take me to local courts in the suburbs.

What we lacked in money we made up for in hard work.

It can’t be easy for the current number three women’s player in the world to have to remind the sport’s governing body that she has just been given the job of helping to take the sport to the next level in her home country.

Vinicius de Moraes (left) only qualified for the ATP 1000 Challenger Tour in June but could go into the US Open as the world number five

Andrea Petkovic has already taken over duties from Anna Wozniacki, and there’s also a quota from last year’s runners-up also at the All England Club – Richel Hogenkamp.

Sport in Brazil used to be in many ways a government monopoly, but that is no longer the case.

Media playback is not supported on this device ‘I dream of a grand slam title’ – Goncalo Guedes

But despite the competition for talent, Brazil have actually moved up the world rankings from 32nd four years ago to third now – second behind Spain and ahead of Britain.

Many young Brazilians would take up a sport from a young age, and just as they would take up football, it seems they also want to play tennis.

I was born in Britain, and though I moved to Brazil at the age of 10, I’ve been able to play a lot since I was nine, when I first came out of school to play in Brazil.

In Brazil, it’s the case that you usually can’t gain a teaching licence until you’ve completed the education to get there. I didn’t finish my GCSEs at 16, but I’m here now, thanks to my Spanish training and English.

One of the reasons I’m so thankful for that is, the talent that I have, it was all down to my father and coaches in Brazil.

I’ve had quite a lot of coaches, and over the years my game has matured a lot. So as soon as I left home I had to understand why the coach in Brazil thought I should be playing for the country, and why I couldn’t just play tennis in the university.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Zanotti, who plays at the Laver Cup, wants the All England Club to try to introduce greater opportunities to its leading young players

For the last 10 years, I’ve been back to Brazil to train, and also to work with local coaches to improve my own game.

Since I left home, I’ve noticed a big change in the attitude towards the game of sport in my country, and it’s a completely different situation.

There’s a lot more passion, and more hope for tennis in Brazil now. It’s getting a bit bigger in the Olympic qualifiers and now even in the Challenger Tour.

Lately, I’ve had quite a few visitors asking if they can join my training in Brazil.

I believe there’s a lot of talent there. When I was growing up, I wanted to play in top division tennis and win grand slams, and in a few years I will be able to say to those kids, and hopefully to their parents, I came through and did what I set out to do.

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