While Andy Murray has stated that in the event of his wife Kim giving birth, he would be ready, even if he qualified for the final, to leave the Australian Open straight away, the history of tennis is packed with similar cases. Players who managed to set their priorities before tennis. With stories mixing love, death, and birth.
1999. Boris Becker is already on the decline. Worn out and aging, the German decides to put tennis aside to fix his bad habits and tortuous decisions, and notably work on his relationship with Barbara Feltus. As a result, his runs in the Grand Slam tournaments are much shorter, the titles more occasional, and the retirement closer than ever. In April, during the Monte-Carlo tournament, a new tragic event will jeopardize even more the tall blond’s tennis aspirations. Karl-Heinz, the father who had built the court he played his first rallies on, dies from cancer, just after the firs round won against Cédric Pioline. Boris does not hesitate and immediately jumps into a plane heading to Germany to pay a last tribute to his father, letting Jérôme Golmard qualify for the third round without playing. A drama followed, a few months later, by Becker’s official retirement, announced after losing to Rafter at Wimbledon, and a few media scandals, between affairs, a divorce, and an illegitimate child. Brutal.
Before Andy Murray, Pavel Andrei had also put his paternal love above tennis. In 2002, as he’s playing a quarter-final against Alex Corretja, the rain interrupts the match for the day (he’s then losing by 2 sets to none, but leading 5-4 in the third). At the same exact time, in Düsseldorf, his wife is on the point of giving birth. Taking advantage of the bad weather, and listening to his heart, Pavel rents a car and drives all the way along with his physio, to arrive in Germany around 9 p.m. Just enough time to give the two loves of his lige kiss, and head back to Paris at around midnight. After arriving at 5:30, Pavel is a tired, but contented man. Which won’t be enough to stop him from losing the next day (7-6, 7-5, 7-5).
In Thailand, the mandatory military service is not to be joked with. Even when your name is Paradorn Srichapan. In 2002, the ministry of defense calls him out to register for the military service, like every Thai youngster under 26 years old. At this time, the huge star, since his good results in the early 2000’s, manages to escape the duty, by arguing that he is a sports teacher in a thai school (one of the nine jobs which are exempted from doing the service). However, two years later, Paradorn faces new troubles with the authorities, as his alibi is questioned (he’s only an honorary member of the said school). In front of the growing scandal, Paradorn decides to take his responsibilities and decides to register for the army draw, which enables the authorities to complete the regiments if needed. A brave choice, which could have led to him having to interrupt his career. Finally, it all ended well, as 68 men volunteered out of the 65 required by the army.
Summer 2015, Spain is playing Greece to keep its place in the World Group of the BNP Paribas Davis Cup, with a play-off against Russia to follow. However, in Toledo, Feliciano Lopez doesn’t care. Clean-shaved, wearing a tailor-made suit, the member of the Top 20 has decided to miss the competition to marry the gorgeous Alba Carrillo. A big handicap for the national squad, bearing in mind that Feliciano has invited a certain number of fellow countrymen and colleagues to celebrate his union. A simple coincidence ? Not really. In an open conflict with Gala Leon, freshly named captain of the Spanish team, Lopez is suspected of having chosen July 17th on purpose, to express his discontent. Without Feliciano and Nadal, who was also against that nomination, but with a pair formed of Robredo and Andujar, Spain loses, and is ejected from the World Group for the first time in 18 years. Here’s to the happy couple !
Unlike Novak Djokovic in 2012, who was capable of playing and winning a third round at Monte-Carlo, just a few minutes after learning the death of his grand-father, before getting on to reach the final on the Sunday, Agnieszka Radwanska was forced to forfeit before her quarter final in Cincinnati in 2013, to reunite with her family for her grand-father’s funeral. « I am disappointed to not continue with the tournament, especially because of my form so far this week, she explained at the time. It was a difficult decision, but I need to go home and be with my family. » Respect.