When I was growing up, my brothers and I used to watch Wimbledon on TV during summer holidays, then take it to the streets. We would make a tennis court in our backyard, using orange bags for the net and rackets made from wood. I used to play football at school too, but had to choose between football and tennis. I don’t play football any more, but I still watch it. I love watching all sports.
Tennis is part of me. It’s my passion.
I love being part of the growth of tennis, however small my contribution may be. Every week is an opportunity to do well and see all your hard work pay off. I also love travelling and experiencing new things at every tournament. There are so many tournaments that are special to me, but if I had to choose one it would have to be Wimbledon. It has so much history and tradition, and is also the tournament I watched when I was growing up.
For me, what makes a great match is when the momentum switches and you sense that anything could happen. It’s exciting when you can really feel what’s at stake in the atmosphere.
South AfricaCountry of Birth
1.72m (5ft 8In)Height
Right-handed, two-handed backhand
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
I stopped playing at the end of 2011 due to injury. It was hard getting used to being at home, as I’d been travelling for so many years. But it was also the year my daughter was born, so I was happy to be spending quality time with her and experiencing a sense of normality for the first time.
There’s so much about my playing career I’m proud of. A particular highlight was making the semi-final of a Grand Slam tournament. I also got to play the Davis Cup and represent my country in the Olympics. In terms of coaching achievements, it’s hard to beat my team winning their first Grand Slam at Wimbledon. Then following it up by winning the US Open a few months later and ending the year as the number one ATP Doubles Team.
I don’t get to play many matches nowadays, but as a coach the tennis court is still my second home. I actually hit more now as a coach than I did as a player. Since I started, the game has grown far more professional. Basically every pro player is like a company and hires their staff accordingly, with far more attention paid to things like food, strings and rackets. It’s also important to have a good balance between your physical and mental shape. Physically you need to be in the best shape that you can possibly be, but mentally it is also important to believe and trust in yourself under pressure.
If I had to give one piece of advice to young players, it would be: believe in your dream and work hard to make it a reality. I also wish I’d been able to tell my younger self that success is a journey and you must enjoy it, that everything will work out and not to be too hard on yourself. That’s why my favourite quote is “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
I’m inspired by people who overcame a humble background and other obstacles to make a success from nothing.