NEW YORK (AP) — Caroline Wozniacki always feels confident she can outrun her opponent on the tennis court.
The former No. 1 player figures that with a bit more training, she can cover 26.2 miles.
Wozniacki plans to play a full tournament schedule this fall while fitting in time to train for the New York City Marathon. She typically runs for 30-40 minutes a day as part of workouts for tennis and hopes that one longer session per week of an hour or more can get her through the Nov. 2 race.
And, no, she’s not seeking this challenge in an attempt to distract herself from her personal life, Wozniacki insisted. Golfer Rory McIlroy broke off their engagement in late May, less than a month before Wozniacki decided to run a marathon.
“Tennis helped me just get through the tough times,” Wozniacki said Thursday. “Now I’m just feeling happy and I wanted to do something good for others. I think that this had nothing really to do with my personal life. It was something I was passionate about.”
She had long wanted to run a marathon, and looking at this year’s tournament schedule, she determined it was doable.
About a week before Wimbledon, she asked her manager to look up charities she could raise money for. Wozniacki will represent Team for Kids, which helps fund NYC Marathon organizer New York Road Runners’ youth programs.
“People ask me, ‘Why don’t you just run a 5K or 10K?’ I’m like, ‘Well, I do that all the time, so it wouldn’t really be a challenge,”’ she said. “This is really something I need to put my mind to.”
Wozniacki was in Manhattan on Thursday with Meb Keflezighi, the reigning Boston Marathon champ who will also raise money for Team for Kids at the New York race, which he won in 2009.
“There’s no turning back now,” she said with a laugh of announcing her plans to the world.
She’ll be back in the city in three weeks for the U.S. Open, which, she hopes, takes her through Sept. 7. Then it’s a week off before three weeks playing in Asia, another week off, and a tournament in Moscow.
Wozniacki hopes to qualify for the WTA Finals, which run Oct. 20-26 in Singapore, ending just a week before the marathon. She’s currently 17th in the standings, though, with only the top eight players taking part.
Wozniacki reached her only major final at the U.S. Open, losing in 2009 to Kim Clijsters. She’s ranked 13th, though she’s coming off her first title in nine months when she won in Istanbul on July 20 – the same day McIlroy clinched the British Open.
She’s comfortable that she can avoid injury while ramping up her running.
“I know my body so well now after so many years on tour and so many years of pushing it,” Wozniacki said.
She’s never entered a road race, and the longest distance she’s ever run is 18 kilometers, which is a bit less than a half-marathon. But she’s always been known for her conditioning on the tennis court and likes to think her experience gritting through fatigue will apply well to her new endeavor.
Plenty of retired athletes have run marathons, but Wozniacki didn’t want to wait.
“When an idea pops into my head, I kind of go for it,” she said. “I know that if I keep pushing it back, I will never do it.”’