For years, when the media contingent entered the lift at Gerry Weber Stadium for the Halle Open, they were welcomed by a photo of Centre Court, spreading across three walls.
But this year, the photographer herself would not be coming.
Our friend and colleague Dana Anders died from cancer at the end of May after three weeks in hospital. Many of us were unaware she had been ill until the end.
Born and educated in Zagreb, Croatia, Dana moved to Germany with her husband Peter. She had started out as a journalist but photography came to dominate her professional life. “I was freer when taking photos,” she said.
After settling in Hamburg, the local ATP/WTA event was a favourite to photograph. As well as the other German tournaments, she often travelled to Roland Garros and sometimes to Wimbledon. She always made time in her schedule for Croatia’s Davis Cup ties, home and away.
The Halle Open – in its various incarnations as the Gerry Weber/Noventi/Terra Wortmann Open – is possibly the only ATP 250, later 500, to be held in a village.
And at the tournament, the camaraderie of the local and international media meant they formed their own village within the village.
Dana rarely missed the event, taking at least 300 photos every match with such focus on the imagery that she’d rush back to her laptop in the media room without even knowing the score.
She would relax at the annual press dinner, gathering up any stray complimentary bottles of the local schnapps to take home to friends.
In 2014, Dana was presented with the joint Gerry Weber Open/Association of German Sports Journalists award for photography.
In her humility, she never mentioned the awards she received for her humanitarian work with children affected by war. For her efforts, she was awarded the Charter of the President of the Republic of Croatia and a Medal for Services to the People of the Republic of Germany.
Her photographs were exhibited around the world. Following on from New York, her last two exhibitions, in 2019, were closer to home.
Firstly, there was Weltspitzensportler (World’s Top Athletes) at Hanstedt’s Exhibition Ringhotel Sellhorn.
Next was a trip to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina for Asovi U Objektivu (Aces in the Lens) at Galerija Aluminij. This exhibition featured 30 photos of Dana’s two favourite players, Marin Čilić and Ivan Dodig.
Over the 20 years of photographing them, from Juniors, she had befriended them.
“This direct contact with great athletes will be something to fondly remember,” she said.
Although Dodig and Čilić were off playing on the Tour, Dodig’s parents attended the exhibition opening.
Unlike some sports photographers who view their work purely as a business, Dana had a genuine love for tennis.
“This sport just fascinates me.”
It’s possible though, that in her affections, handball actually came first. She once said, “In my youth I played handball, so it’s part of me.”
Among her other interests were animal welfare, music, travel and gardening.
As with many photographers, even leisure times were photo ops and her Canon accompanied her just about everywhere.
She loved to stroll around Hanstedt, “the most beautiful village far and wide” to relax and capture its scenery.
Through over 40 years of professional photography, Dana was able to reflect on the changes that affected photographers working in the media.
When she started out, she was employed by a newspaper. But as media companies began their massive staff cuts, Dana and many others were forced into freelance work. Relationships with her peers inevitably became more competitive as they all rushed to be the first to upload to agencies.
The digital revolution brought greater convenience in many ways but added hours to her day in sorting all the extra shots she could take. Previously, she had managed with just three rolls of film a tournament.
An enduring image will be Dana rushing to a court lugging 15 kilos of huge lenses on her back.
Throughout her career, she always kept her ideal in mind. “When I take a photo, I want people to look at it and discover something,”
Her legacy lives on through her extensive catalogue of work and our fond memories.
I am so sad…Dana was one of a kind; a feisty bundle of complexities who was wonderfully caring…and had a wicked sense of humor. Whenever our paths crossed, she wanted to know what I was working on that particular day. When I told her she always said – I will have photos for you. What a treasure. I am fortunate to have spent time with her…
– Mark Winters, tennis writer and member of the ITWA
I met Dana in the early ’90s in Halle, when everything began. She was not only a sports photographer, she caught “just the right moment” in or after the game. It was not just a job to her, it was her passion. Beside the court she had a friendly word for everyone. So sad to hear she passed away. Bye, bye Dana.
– Stefan Metzler, television editor and producer
Thank you, Dana, for your spirit, your thinking outside of the box and the drive to never give up – find peace and be proud of your many achievements!
– Simone Kemler, tennis writer
R.I.P. Dana, you’ll be missed. We know you are watching from above. You were always there for colleagues and made many friends all around the world. You loved tennis and taking pictures.
– Janine Lang and Bernd Buelhoff, tennis photographers
Dana was a kindhearted human being. She passionately loved what she did and everyone around her could feel the love she had for tennis and photography, as well for the people around her. Her secret love was the “Happy Station” in Halle where she would get an ice cream with her colleagues and have some minutes of quality time before rushing to get the next shot.
– Sarah Elders, editor, and Robert Gertzen, sports photographer
You were always a lovely person to me and I will never forget that. You are immortalized in the farewell book given to me for the Gerry Weber Open 2017, and from time to time I look at it and so I also see Dana…
– Frank Hofen, former Gerry Weber Open Media Director
Dana, I can’t believe all this. I am shocked and infinitely sad – miss you.
– Anke Rossol, tennis photographer
Rest in peace and may the angels guard you…
– Mihajlo Misky Barac, ATP Tour
Our own exhibition of Dana’s photos: