Robin Söderling: ‘A Lesson Here For All Of Us’

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.

Söderling begins:

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.

Soderling concludes:

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

… 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:

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.

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.

Wimbledon – What they’re missing

Christopher Clarey covered his first Wimbledon Championships 30 years ago in 1990. 

What they’re sharing on social media

Marin Cilic / Happy times two

Johanna Konta / Grooving my way into Wimbledon tonight

Martina Navratilova / Using my grandmother’s racquet