17-time grand slam tennis champion Serena Williams has been known to dedicate a victory here and there to a 29-year-old man. The German-born Serb, Sascha Bajin (aka “Big Sascha”), is her longtime hitting partner. He claims to spend about 330 days a year with Williams. They started working together in 2007. Since then his role has expanded to include working out together and, according to The New York Times, occasionally serving as her bodyguard.
Bajin is a formidable player–and also has a bit of the actor in him–he can play anybody. Anybody in Serena’s path, that is. He sometimes mimics big sister Venus’s style when playing with Serena. Other times he’s adept at adopting much different styles. He told the Times he recently had to embody former Open champion Samantha Stosur’s style on the court by “slicing a lot of backhands, hitting forehands with a little more topspin and coming to the net.” Stosur won the 2011 US Open by defeating Williams in the final–that was the heated match when Williams shouted ‘C’mon!’ during a crucial point before Stosur had a chance to hit the ball. Williams was docked the point. Bajin’s mimicry worked last time–Serena dispatched Samantha on August 13 in Cincinnati 7-6, 7-6.