JANKOVIC CALIFORNIA GIRL

©2014 Billie Weiss/BNP Paribas Open

In a searing hot day in the Indian Wells, Jelena Jankovic seemed right at home. 

“There’s sunshine outside!” said Jankovic as she met with journalists ahead of the 2014 BNP Paribas Open, the first WTA Premier Mandatory stop on the ladies’ tour. 

Jankovic glided in to the press room beaming in well-tailored sleeveless tennis dress by her sponsor, Fila, awash in navy-and-white stripes. Focus naturally turned to the striking outfit, and Jankovic deferred questions about the dress to its designer, Ginny Hilfiger, who stood off to the side watching her creation come to life on Jankovic. 

Hilfiger, the youngest sister of designer Tommy Hilfiger, explored Fila’s archives in Biella, Italy for inspiration. “I came out with some trims from the archive, took a little bit of a French feel, and incorporated some functional fabrics for tennis. That was my formula.” Offered as a preview at this event, the collection makes its debut at the 2014 French Open. 

After chatter about the dress died down, talk turned to the business at hand: Jankovic’s tennis.  She has compiled an 11-5 record so far this year, including semifinal appearances in Brisbane and Doha, and at the end of the last season finished in the Top 10 after a two-year absence.

Part of her reinvigorated play has come with having her brother, Marko, as her full-time coach, a relationship they renewed in 2013. “Having my brother is great,” said Jankovic. “Especially with this lifestyle that we have.” And the siblings have no issues with drawing the line between their professional and personal lives. “He knows that there is one Jelena on the court and a different one off the court.”

Playing at the BNP Paribas Open is also special for Jankovic because she owns a home in Racho Santa Fe, just a few hours’ drive to the southwest. The 29-year-old Serbian plans to spend more time in the area after she retires from professional tennis.

This week, Jankovic plays Austrian Yvonne Meusburger in a second-round match on Friday afternoon. She shares the same quarter as Agnieszka Radwanska in the bottom half of the draw.