WASHINGTON, July 9, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
On Tuesday evening, Robin Söderling, 35, the first player to defeat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros – and himself a two-time French Open finalist – used his social media platform positively to open up about himself in a very revealing manner. He addressed with his fans the truth about mental health issues – anxiety and panic attacks – which affected him and contributed toward his early retirement.
Like myself, most professional athletes are high-achieving perfectionists, dedicating their lives to their sport. Being an athlete can be incredibly challenging for your mental health., and for me, my own strive for perfection, as well as the constant pressure I was putting on myself was in the end almost killing me.
A Top 5 player, Söderling was just 26 when he played his last match in 2011, winning the Swedish Open. As we learn, there is very often so much beneath the surface of an athlete – especially one who is constantly in the public eye – that we never learn about.
It’s time to address mental illness amongst professional athletes, and this time actually do something about it. Data shows that up to one in three elite athletes suffer from mental health issues which can manifest as stress, eating disorders, burnout, depression and anxiety.
We need to start discussing it and making sure that the next generation of athletes will come better prepared than myself. Helping them to have a long and healthy career, and not have to experience what I, and so many other athletes I know, have gone through.
As New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey wrote about Söderling on Twitter, “A lesson here for all of us.”
Powerful, important words from Robin Soderling – the first man ever to beat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros – on his Instagram.
He details the awful mental health issues he suffered upon being forced into early retirement by failing physical health.
Wish him well. pic.twitter.com/zfiHmgNGTi
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) July 8, 2020
Serena, Coco address Mouratoglou Academy graduates
Earlier this week, 23-time Grand Slam great Serena Williams and teen rising star Coco Gauff addressed the 2020 graduates of the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy online. Patrick Mouratoglou, the academy’s founder, has been Williams’ coach since 2012 and has worked with Gauff since 2018.
— Mouratoglou Tennis Academy (@MouratoglouAcad) July 7, 2020
Federer turns 39 soon, doesn’t want to stop
Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer graces the cover of German publication ZEIT Magazin. In a cover story by Christop Amend, we learn that Federer – arguably the greatest tennis player of all time – smashed his racquets when he was young. Now, he’s revered for his elegance. Next month, Federer turns 39. However, despite taking the rest of the year off to recover from knee surgery, the Swiss maestro doesn’t want to stop playing – just yet.
Die Titelgeschichte im neuen #ZEITmagazin: @rogerfederer gilt als bester Tennisspieler aller Zeiten. In jungen Jahren zertrümmerte er seine Schläger, heute verehrt man ihn für seine Eleganz. Im August wird er 39, doch aufhören möchte er nicht.
📸 Paolo Pellegrin pic.twitter.com/dtnUloFxe4
— ZEITmagazin (@ZEITmagazin) July 8, 2020
The Way Back Machine / Federer-Murray, 2012 Wimbledon final
Roger Federer beat Andy Murray in the 2012 Wimbledon men’s final. A year later, Murray would make British history.
But for @andy_murray, the rest, of course, is history…
— ITF (@ITF_Tennis) July 8, 2020
Djokovic back on court after self-isolation …
On Tuesday, Novak Djokovic returned to the tennis courts, hitting with friend and fellow Serbian Viktor Troicki. It was Djokovic’s first hit since testing positive for COVID-19.
— Saša Ozmo (@ozmo_sasa) July 7, 2020
… wonders if he’s the subject of a witch hunt
In an interview with Sportski Zurnal, Djokovic said, “Lately I have seen only criticism, and a lot of them malicious. There is obviously something more than just criticism, like there is an agenda, witch-hunt. Like someone has to fall, some big name to be the main culprit for everything…”
… still undecided on playing US Open
“I still don’t know whether I will play at the US Open. I certainly won’t play Washington, Cincinnati is planned. Participation in Garros is safe for now, and Madrid and Rome are also planned.”
… also thinks new ATP ranking system is best solution
Djokovic also said he fully supports the efforts to hold tournaments in the U.S. and Europe and thinks the new ATP ranking-system is the best solution. “We discussed it in the Council and that decision was made because we wanted to protect the players that don’t want to put themselves to risk and to travel. Some won’t play until the end of 2020 and in this way the list protects them; they are not losing points. On the other hand, players who play will have a chance to earn new points. In this situation, I believe it was the best option.”
Ready for a new adventure: Vekic, coach part ways
Donna Vekic and her coach of the past two and one-half years, Torben Beltz, have parted company. Beltz wrote on Twitter:
Donna Vekic and Torben Beltz have ended their coaching relationship after two and a half years of working together. pic.twitter.com/SCu5OuQS19
— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) July 8, 2020
UTS – All in a day’s work
One of the many innovative things to come out of this summer’s Ultimate Tennis Showdown, which has been taking place at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy near Nice, France, has been interactive interviews between players and broadcasters. Sometimes, it seems, they come off like job interviews.
*At a job interview* 💼
Recruiter: “So how does this experience make you fit for the job?”
— UTS | Ultimate Tennis Showdown (@UTShowdown) July 7, 2020
Halep thankful she didn’t have to dance this time
Throughout the Wimbledon fortnight that wasn’t, former British great Sue Barker, now a longtime presenter for BBC Sport, has been hosting a nightly Wimbledon show on BBC2. On Tuesday evening, 2019 champion Simona Halep was a guest on the broadcast. Among topics, the World No. 2 talked about her nerves before last year’s Wimbledon Champions‘ Dance.
Thankfully I didn’t have to dance 🤣💃
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) July 7, 2020
Wimbledon – What they’re missing
Christopher Clarey covered his first Wimbledon Championships 30 years ago in 1990.
30 years ago, I covered my first Grand Slam tournament. It was Wimbledon, which was a bit like making your first museum visit The Louvre.
It was a cozier, stuffier tournament then but it was and remains an event that lives up to the hype. Bring on 2021
📸 Tom Tebbutt pic.twitter.com/VILcqteHfl
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) July 7, 2020
What they’re sharing on social media
Marin Cilic / Happy times two
After 2 weeks of self-isolation & a 3rd negative COVID-19 test 🙏, happy to finally be back on court & back to cuddling the little one 💙🥰 pic.twitter.com/9JN2CfKCLE
— Marin Cilic (@cilic_marin) July 7, 2020
Johanna Konta / Grooving my way into Wimbledon tonight
— Johanna Konta (@JohannaKonta) July 7, 2020
Martina Navratilova / Using my grandmother’s racquet
I thought I would share this photo on this day:), apparently I won my 9th at Wimbledon 30 years ago today against Zina Garrison. This is my first ever tennis photo taken, I was 9 years old at my first tournament and using my grandmothers racquet… handle just a wee bit too big:) pic.twitter.com/lgzyO8537P
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) July 7, 2020