Ajla Tomljanovic's parents and switch from Croatian to Australian citizenship

Joshua Rogers December 28, 2022
Ajla Tomljanovic's parents and switch from Croatian to Australian citizenship
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Ahead of her US Open quarterfinal we take a look at Ajla Tomljanovic’s parents, nationality, and why she switched from Croatian to Australian citizenship.

Ajla Tomljanovic is into the quarterfinals at the US Open where she takes on Tunisian Ons Jabeur. Ajla reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon this year but was defeated by eventual champion Elena Rybakina.

Tomljanovic was an accomplished junior player, having won the 2009 Australian Open girls’ doubles title with Christina McHale.

As a professional, the 29-year-old has reached four WTA career finals, the most recent of which came in 2019 at the Thailand Open. Tomljanovic was the sixth seed and lost to eighth seed Dayana Yastremska.

Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP via Getty Images

Who are Ajla Tomljanovic’s parents?

The tennis star was born in Zagreb, Croatia on 7 May 1993. Ajla Tomljanovic’s parents are father Ratko Tomljanovic, who is Croatian, and mother Emina Tomljanovic who is Bosnian.

Ratko Tomljanovic played actually played handball professionally and won the 1992 and 1993 handball European Cup with RK Zagreb.

Emina, however, is the reason Alja got into tennis. According to Reuters, though, Ajla Tomljanovic’s mother gets so nervous about her daughter’s tennis matches that she often opts to go on long walks with the family dog to block out the tension.

After Alja beat Alize Corent in the Round of 16, she said: “The biggest thing that is different this year is my mum’s here. She didn’t watch any of my matches last year, even on TV.”

“She would walk the dog for hours and then check the score. I was so mad at her because I was like, ‘What if I’m never going to do this again, you missed it’.

“Well here you go mum, you’re welcome,” she added.

Speaking about her parents influence she told Tennis Majors: “I have to say that my parents and my sister (Hana) have been the greatest support of mine.

“They were always there, the first ones to jump in and help me in my toughest moments and the ones who have believed the most in me. Without them, I would not be where I am now.”

She switched from Croatia to Australia

Tomljanovic has lived in the United States since she was 13, and trained at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton, Florida. While there, tennis legend Chris Evert became a mentor of hers.

However, in 2014, Alja switched nationalities from Croatian to Australian in order to secure the support of Tennis Australia. Prior to that she had player for her country of birth.

“When I was a kid, it was always the dream to compete with the best girls and be the best I can be,” Tomljanovic told SI “And with Australia, I really believe I can maybe reach the next level and maximize my potential.” 

Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images

She had to wait four years for her Australian citizenship

The decision was motivated after teaming up with Australian coach David Taylor, who was employed by Tennis Australia. In exchange for representing Australia, Tomljanovic received the full support of Tennis Australia, including access to coaching, nutrition advisers and training facilities. 

“In Croatia, we don’t really have the resources,” Tomljanovic said. “We’re a small country. When I started, my parents were my sponsors. Now it’s come to a point where maybe there is a gap where I can get a better situation, better resources, better conditions. I think it does make a difference. Hopefully we see it.”​​​

However, for the next four years she was required to represent Croatia at all non-Grand Slam events until she was granted Australian citizenship. This finally happened in 2018, allowing her to represent Australia in all events on the WTA Tour.

Her US Open run

Tomljanovic is into the US Open quarterfinals where she is taking on Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur.

Tomljanovic defeated Karolína Muchová and Evgeniya Rodina to reach the third round, where she defeated former World No. 1 and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams.

It was Serena’s last ever match at the US Open, who before the tournament started announced her plans to retire.

Tomljanovic then defeated Liudmila Samsonova in straight sets to set up the encounter with Jabeur.

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Joshua is a Senior Sports Writer at GRV Media with over five years of experience in online writing and editing. After receiving a BA (Hons) in Ancient History and an MA in Sports Journalism, he became a writer for a leading social publisher with over 7 million Facebook followers. Joshua then joined Reach PLC, covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online and regional publications like the Liverpool Echo. He then moved to a social media marketing agency and content studio, Brave Bison, acting as Website Editor for The Hook. Joshua now oversees all sports content on The Focus, specializing in NBA, NFL, F1, and tennis, while also keeping a close eye on his beloved Manchester United.