Kristina Mladenovic is celebrating her 23rd birthday today, giving me a wonderful occasion to feature these old photos of the WTA player in my Little Tennis Stars series.
Born in a sporting family, to mother Dzenita who was a pro volleyball player and father Dragan who was a pro handball player, Mladenovic started playing tennis at the age of seven.
Year 2015 was a breakthrough year for Mladenovic, as she made her first WTA final during the season, finishing runner-up to Samantha Stosur in Strasbourg, and also reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the US Open. The successes reflected in Mladenovic cracking Top 30 in the rankings.
However, Mladenovic's biggest tennis achievements have come in doubles, including 15 WTA doubles title and a career-high ranking of number five. Moreover, in mixed doubles Mladenovic can be proud of two Grand Slam titles, the 2014 Australian Open and Wimbledon 2013 with Daniel Nestor, as well as two Grand Slam finals.
Mladenovic is especially proud of her contributions to France's Fed Cup team, as she's won four of her six rubbers in her country's ties this year and helped her team reach the final. That's when she shared this childhood photo on Instagram, saying:
I was watching and dreaming that one day I could copy Mary & Amelie and play a Fed Cup final at home for my country… 11 years later, here we are.