28.06.2019 - Hamburg
Reigning champion Laura Ludwig believes retaining her world title on home sand will be one of the crowning moments of her career.
The 33-year-old returns to Hamburg for this year’s World Championships with Maggie Kozuch following the retirement of former teammate Kira Walkenhorst.
No woman in beach history has defended a world title with another player and Laura and Maggie kick-off their search of glory at their home championships against Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman of the United States on Friday.
Having won two years ago in Vienna with Walkenhorst, and after a year off the sand to start a family, Ludwig can’t wait to get back on the court to defend her title in front of the home fans on the Red Bull Beach Arena.
“I’m excited and I’m nervous, it’s going to be great playing in Hamburg with the German fans behind us,” says the Olympic champion. “It’s great to know we have the third player on the sand with us and it’s even better that it’s the German fans because they are crazy for beach volleyball.
“I feel as though they know the sport, they come to watch the sport rather than just to party and for the music. They understand that and we get a good feeling from that. It helps and I love the enthusiasm they have for that. It’s great that more and more people have a love for the sport.”
A victory would cap a remarkable return to action after 12 months away but Laura isn’t getting too carried away in her quest for back-to-back golds.
“I can’t tell how that would make me feel, but there’s a long way to go before that happens,” says Ludwig. “Every time you win something it is special, and winning again, especially here, would incredible. Everyone has their own magic in a situation but we don’t want to think about that, we’re just happy to be here and to play.”
The 2017 title ensured that Laura completed the set of every major honor in the sport having won national, European, Olympic and World Tour titles prior to Vienna. And it’s something she will never forget.
“It was intense, actually really, really intense,” Laura remembers looking back at her triumph in the Austrian capital. “In the end it was positive but we came through some tough times to get there. We had injury problems before the tournament but we stuck together and took what we had learned in the previous years.
“We didn’t put ourselves under too much pressure, we enjoyed the game and we were made to feel like gladiators – especially when the German fans came to support us.
“We knew before the tournament that if we played to our top level we would have a good chance but there was no secret. We just played solid volleyball, learned from previous experiences and kept calm. If you can concentrate and be calm then the tools you have to play come through.”