Stefanos Tsitsipas is one of the brightest young stars in a men’s tennis world desperately seeking an heir apparent to the three-headed monster that has dominated the sport for nearly two decades. Just 22 years old, Tsitsipas has already faced off against the greatest players in the world. However, the most demanding people he faces may also be the ones who raised him.
Stefanos Tsitsipas establishes his tennis career
According to ATPTour.com, Tsitsipas went pro in 2016. In the five years since, he’s let the people know he is here to stay. After two years of fighting to make a difference in a sport that notoriously experiences minimal parity, he earned his first win at Stockholm in 2018. The young Greek followed that up with three wins at Marseille, Estoril, and Nitto in 2019, following up Marseille with another win in 2020. With two wins already in 2021, Tsitsipas might be on the verge of greatness.
Despite all of his success, however, Tsitsipas is yet to win a Grand Slam. That would help to certify him as one of the best players in history. However, if you ask his mom, the meaning behind it would go much deeper.
Tsitsipas’ tennis upbringing
Tsitsipas wasn’t alone when he tried to make his name in men’s tennis. It wasn’t an out-of-left-field connection, either. His grandfather, Sergei Salnikov, was an Olympic Champion in the 1950s, decades before the great’s grandson debuted and honored his late grandfather’s legacy. However, just because the pros skipped a generation, it didn’t mean that the dedication to the craft did.
The multi-time ATP champion had two coaches who were by his side every day and teaching him what it took to be one of the best tennis players in the world.
“My mum was also my coach when I was younger, so she taught me a lot, including discipline, generosity, and kindness,” Tsitsipas told BBC Sport. “My dad had a big influence too. And he still has today. He’s the reason I have developed my game. His guidance and life advice helped me to mature.”
It helped that Tsitsipas loved what he was doing, and while many parents are too hands-on, he tried to instill a love for the game so that it didn’t feel like a chore to try to compete with the best in the world. That connection to his parents lasts to this day. Now one of the best players in the younger generation, Tsitsipas’s coaches are still on his back. In 2020, he accidentally hit his dad while melting down in a fit of passion.
This passion is better explained when one looks at what happened at last year’s Australian Open.
Stefanos Tsitsipas gets coaching advice from his mom
The ATP’s official website noted that when Tsitsipas was asked about his parents’ role in his life at the Australian Open, he beamed while stating that sometimes their hands-on approach can be a little overbearing.
“I’m trying to sometimes not pay too much attention of what they say. It’s quite difficult, honestly,” Tsitsipas said. “But I love them… I honestly don’t know if I would have achieved the things I have achieved today if it wasn’t for them. They want the best for me.”
As soon as the answer left his mouth, his mother was ready to chime in. She grabbed a microphone at the following media availability to give some motherly advice to her son in front of all his fans and media.
“I don’t spend so much time with you. This is my chance. What I want to ask you is, I’m not sure you are really so much aware of the number of these great tennis players followed by the parents,” Salnikova said. She followed it up with a question, “Are you really aware of the number of the great tennis players that were helped and followed by the parents on the [ATP] Tour?”
Tsitsipas’s parents can help explain why he may act the way he does out on the court. He might be one of the best young up-and-comers in the world, but he’s still his mother’s son. After challenging him to become the first men’s tennis player to be coached by his parents en-route to a Grand Slam, Tsitsipas agreed that it would be an outstanding achievement.
Now, he needs to make his mother proud by winning one of the Grand Slam events. Otherwise, her next press conference question might be even more pointed.