Bethanie Mattek-Sands is one of the most entertaining players on the WTA Tour, known for groundstrokes as flashy as her on-court fashion. This year at the BNP Paribas Open, Mattek-Sands, No. 52 in the rankings, opens her campaign against Caroline Garcia of France on Thursday.
We caught up with the 28-year-old American to learn more about her trademark style, the music on her iPod, and what she loves about playing the BNP Paribas Open.
BNP Paribas Open: What do you like about being in Indian Wells?
Bethanie Mattek-Sands: They’ve made a lot of improvements, even with the restaurants Nobu and Chophouse, I’ve been eating over there. There’s plenty of stadiums, lots of seating and great viewing areas for the practice courts. It’s just a cool tournament for both players and fans.
BNPPO: So you’ve eaten over at Nobu or Chophouse?
BMS: Chophouse. Yesterday I had the lamb chops with apricot sauce, and I had the burger today.
BNPPO: How rare is it for you to be on-site and go to a restaurant and chill out?
BMS: Never. I can’t think of a tournament that does it like Indian Wells. Palm Springs is one of my favorite stops anyway, and it just keeps getting better.
BNPPO: So you’re always pretty colorful on court, but what if you had to play tennis in black and white? How would individualize your Bethanie look?
BMS: I still have my knee-high socks and my colorful hair, which is purple right now, and the tattoos. So I think if it was black and white, you could still pick me out.
BNPPO: What are you jamming out to lately? You have a pretty eclectic taste in music.
BMS: I’m a big fan of Macklemore, so that’s one of my big ones I walk out to. It depends on what mood I’m in, but when I’m about to go play I listen to a lot of techno. Tiesto is one of my favorites. I actually give my iPod to my 19-year-old brother, and he finds all these artists I’ve never heard of. I just tell him to put whatever you want on there, and I always get music I would have never found on my own.
BNPPO: So your brother is your DJ?
BMS: He is my DJ, and he gives me the coolest stuff. He gives me all these cool rock, pop, rap songs – it’s a total eclectic blend of everything. But yes, he DJ’s for me.
BNPPO: Do you wear earphones right until you’re on court?
BMS: Yep, I walk on listening to music. I pick a song, and that’s the one I’ll go on with.
BNPPO: What would “Bethanie Mattek-Sands, The Musical,” look like?
BMS: [Laughter] Honestly, I’ve never thought of that! Unfortunately, I can’t sing. If I wish I had a talent, it would be singing. I’m not a bad dancer, so I can probably learn some moves. But the musical would not involve me, I know that! I would be directing it, or maybe doing a backup dancer thing.
BNPPO: So are you singing in the car? The shower? Where are you belting out that voice of yours?
BMS: Yeah, by myself [Laughter]. I’m just really not good. I don’t really sing out loud.
BNPPO: You’ve got to meet some really cool people over the years. Is there one that sticks out in your mind?
BMS: I’ve met a lot of cool people, but I would love to meet Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He’s on top of the list right now. I love Aaron, and I love Brett Favre. I think that’s why I married my husband because he looks like Brett.
BNPPO: You were born in Minnesota. How much ties do you have to that part of the country?
BMS: I lived in Minnesota for awhile, and then I moved to Wisconsin. Most of my family is in Wisconsin, but I still have a lot of childhood friends in Minnesota. I lived in a small Wisconsin town called Neenah.
BNPPO: Do you ever go back to Neenah?
BMS: I haven’t gone back in a long time. The last time I went was for my grandmother’s 80th birthday, and that was pretty much it. We don’t have many breaks, and when I have a week off, I tend to go home to Arizona.
BNPPO: What are you doing when you go back to Wisconsin?
BMS: I hang out with family. All the guys are pretty good on the grill, so we do barbecues. During the winter it’s a little different, obviously. I don’t mind a little snow and love a White Christmas, but I’m glad I live in a warmer climate.
BNPPO: Do you have any off-court talents?
BMS: I played a lot of sports growing up. I’m obviously good with anything with a racket, and I love playing squash. Probably a little known fact that people don’t know is I crochet and knit. I have a sewing machine at home and taught myself.
BNPPO: So are you doing this on the plane?
BMS: I have done it on the plane. It’s actually kind of soothing. When you get in a groove, you can get pretty quick at it. I’ve kept it pretty simple, mainly scarves and beanies. I haven’t done anything too complicated.
BNPPO: Maybe you can start a WTA Knitting Club?
BMS: There’s another player that knits, Vera Dushevina from Russia. I think I’ve seen her. I have to ask, but I’m pretty sure. I think she’s a little better than me, though.
BNPPO: What would a perfect day for you look like?
BMS: A perfect day would be in Phoenix, Arizona, having [her husband] Justin make my breakfast. There’s nothing better in the offseason waking up and watching NFL football. I have my NFL game package on TV. I can get all the games, and I can sit there all day long. To me, that’s the perfect day. When I’m home I have all my snacks. I stick to my diet pretty well, but I give myself cheat days. It just depends on if it lands on a Sunday or not.