Tatiana Weston-Webb knows how representative she is. The only Brazilian in the surfing elite, the gaúcha based in Hawaii has a great chance of becoming Brazil’s first world champion surfer – the country already has five world titles, but all in the men’s. Aware of the responsibility, the 26-year-old athlete goes to the WSL Finals willing to write her name down in history once and for all. Centered and aware, Tatiana speaks openly about the gender disparity in sports and reveals that she has already suffered prejudice on the wave.
The WSL Finals – the event that defines the 2022 world champions – takes place in the window that runs from Thursday to September 16, in Lower Trestles, California. All batteries will have live broadcast from sportv. The ge will broadcast the first two matches of each genre live and follow all the emotions of the decision in real time.
Tatiana Weston-Webb, the only Brazilian in the surfing elite — Photo: Personal archive
– I paddled for a wave from the series and a bodyboarding person paddled in front of me, and when he got back into the line-up, he said to me, “Sorry but I couldn’t give a girl one from the series.” It left me in shock – said.
+ X-ray: experts project Tati’s rematch against Carissa
+ Italo recognizes pressure, but trusts the world bi: “Ultimate goal”
How do you feel being the only Brazilian in the elite of the World Surfing Tour?
I am very happy to represent Brazil, I always feel excited and motivated, I know that being the only Brazilian woman in the CT is a very big responsibility, but I try not to think about it and not make it turn into pressure. It is a matter of time and incentive to have other girls competing in the elite as well, we have many quality surfers and we already see some Brazilian names on the rise, shining as future promises. In Brazil, girls are also interested in sports from an early age, and in surfing we hope that in the near future we can have more representatives competing on the World Tour.
What would your eventual title this season mean for women’s surfing in Brazil?
This season was very competitive at all stages, the level of women’s surfing is very high and it would be important to win the title in Trestles. A victory in California would also represent the evolution of our surfing, this would only confirm how Brazilian women also have the potential to star in the elite of the WSL. However, it is very necessary to have concentration for the final decision, we know that reaching the Finals, after so many stages, is extremely important. I’m focused and working for this to happen in the best way.
See exclusive interview with Tatiana Weston-Webb, World Surfing finalist
Tatiana Weston-Webb conquers South African stage in the World Surfing League
Do you think your success in surfing can pack other women surfers in Brazil?
I think women in Brazil are used to following a lot about sports, it’s part of our country’s culture. But I’m happy if I can be a factor that can encourage those who don’t know to learn more about surfing as well. And also, of course, I think my results can somehow encourage even more those who already practice and have the dream of competing in the sport.
Tatiana and her intimacy with surfboards since she was a little girl — Photo: Personal archive
Currently we have many Brazilian men in the elite and only you as the country’s representative among women. What is this due to?
I think this is also due to the encouragement and support in women’s surfing. Hopefully in the near future we can have more women competing in the CT. We need more incentive for others to show up too, we have many talented girls who can also play in the elite. I want to contribute more and more to increase this incentive and visibility, with more visibility and support also from the brands, we will have more Brazilian members competing.
Have you ever faced any prejudice within the sport for being a woman?
Yeah, I’ve faced prejudice in the water, especially in surfing, I was surfing Pipe, and I paddled to a wave from the series and a bodyboarding person paddled in front of me, and when he got back into the line-up, he said to me: “Sorry but I couldn’t give one of the series to a girl”. This left me in shock. I think before that was a thought of many men, but now the surfing world is getting more and more equal, and men to me are having more respect for women in the water.
Top waves Tatiana Weston-Webb 2022
What can confederations, COB and other sports entities do to increase female participation in surfing in Brazil?
I believe that more than the COB, brands can contribute a lot to change the scene of women’s surfing in the country.
Tatiana Weston-Webb (right) with her parents and brother — Photo: Personal archive
How is your professional relationship with your husband Jessé Mendes, who is also a surfer as well as a coach? Do you talk about surfing and competitions in family moments?
I consider it very lucky to play the same sport and be in the same job as my husband. I know it’s very difficult during times of travel, because we are usually away from family and friends, so we often have the privilege of being together and accompanying each other, practically the whole year. We talk about surfing and try to give support, but not as a competitor or surfer, it’s a support based on love, affection and we try to show that we will always be together for whatever comes and comes.
Tatiana Weston-Webb and her husband Jessé Mendes — Photo: Reproduction/Instagram
And the professional relationship with your parents, who are also from the surfing world? Do they talk to you a lot about the sport? Do they give you advice, praise you, scold you?
Yes, my parents are very involved in my sport. My dad never says anything, but my mom always tries to give me tips, she’s super competitive. So she can’t stand not saying some things, for example: when I’m in a place training, she calls me and says: “Are you surfing at sunset, practicing, learning the wave?” So she always asks me if I’m doing the right workouts, stuff like that. After the drums she also tries to give me some tips, but sometimes I prefer to say: “Mom, look at that, you are my mother, I love you so much, but you are not my coach”. So I always have to tell her that.
You were born in Brazil but moved to Hawaii small and have lived there ever since. How big is each of these two countries in your heart? Does Tatiana feel more Brazilian or Hawaiian?
I am Brazilian and I am very proud to represent our country, but the choice for Brazil was not a renunciation of Hawaii. I am very happy to know that I am also loved in Hawaii, I have affection for both of them. Each one has a unique space, my love for surfing owes a lot to Hawaii, it was there where I spent most of the time I spent surfing. Brazil was where I was born and also where I have many friends and family, my main feeling is gratitude for both.
Surfer poses with the Brazilian flag — Photo: Personal archive
What do you project for your future in surfing?
I have the dream of winning the world championship, but it’s still too early to think and project a lot about the future. I will continue to dedicate myself to training to evolve more and more during the seasons. I want to prepare well so I can also be in good shape for the next Olympic Games in 2024. Surfing is very dynamic, so something I think is that I need to maintain consistency, and try to always be performing at a high level to keep competing between the best.