Donna Vekic’s legendary coach: 22-time Grand Slam champion guiding epic Wimbledon run

Donna Vekic celebrates her Wimbledon quarter-final win
Donna Vekic has been working with Pam Shriver since October 2022.

Donna Vekic has looked like a woman reborn in recent weeks.

After an early loss at the Berlin Open – where she had reached the final in 2023 – the Croatian slumped down the rankings and was close to leaving the top 50.

But a run to the final in Bad Homburg sent her back into the top 40, and now she is set to return to the top 20 after a dream Wimbledon run.

By beating Lulu Sun on Tuesday, the 28-year-old is into a well-overdue first Grand Slam semi-final.

And, much like at several big events, she has a tennis great guiding her run: none other than 22-time major champion Pam Shriver.

Relationship origins

Shriver, now a common figure on US TV coverage, and Vekic first met at the San Diego Open in October 2022, when the Croatian was attempting to qualify for the main draw.

“I wanted to come to a women’s tennis tournament really as a fan of women’s tennis, and also I wanted to connect with a couple of players,” revealed Shriver in a video earlier this year.

Vekic was still working back up the rankings after knee surgery in 2021 at that stage, and the two started speaking and working together during her qualifying campaign.

Seeded 12th in qualifying, she beat Elizabeth Mandlik and Lauren Davis to reach the main draw – and then went on an absolute tear.

She beat Maria Sakkari, Karolina Pliskova, Aryna Sabalenka, and Danielle Collins to reach her 10th career final – where it took Iga Swiatek three sets to stop her.

“I can still remember to this day, she beat Sakkari, and then she took on Pliskova and beat Pliskova, and then she took on Sabalenka and beat Sabalenka in the quarters. She took on Danielle Collins in the semis and I got hooked – because I know how it is.

“If you have something on your team that’s a little bit of a change but things are going well, you want to keep that – you don’t want to let that go.”

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Further success

Vekic’s day-to-day coach is long-term ally Nikola Horvat, who is also with her at SW19 this fortnight.

However, Shriver is still a regular figure in her player box and has guided her through some big results.

At the start of 2023, the Croatian reached her second Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open, eventual champion Sabalenka ending her run in the last eight.

That was quickly followed by her fourth and to date most recent WTA victory in Monterrey before reaching one of the biggest finals of her career in Berlin last summer.

2024 has proven more of a struggle, though she has turned her season around on the grass and now sits 12th in the WTA Live Race ahead of her semi-final.

In Shriver, a three-time Wimbledon singles semi-finalist and five-time doubles champion, she has the perfect person to assist her at this tournament.

Vekic sits 20th in the WTA Live Rankings – just one spot off her career high – and Shriver may well guide her to multiple new heights in the coming few days.