Stefanos Tsitsipas’ Near-Death Experience at Sea Gives Him the Perspective to Win: ‘It Psychologically Changed Me’

Facing a near-death experience can change a person’s perspective on life, and pro athletes aren’t immune to these feelings. Coming close to dying can be a traumatizing experience that makes somebody realize how precious life can be. When professional tennis player Stefanos Tsitsipas nearly died, he believes it gave him more confidence and a better perspective, helping him in his career. Let’s look at the 22-year-old’s harrowing experience and how he feels he’s changed for the better.

Stefanos Tsitsipas’ strong 2021 tennis season so far

Stefanos Tsitsipas during his match against Novak Djokovic at the 2021 French Open
Tennis player Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2021 French Open | Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

The Greek turned pro in 2016, according to his ATP bio. But he started to make a name for himself in the last couple of years. Tsitsipas has risen up the world rankings to a career-best of No. 4, where he currently ranks. He started the year making it to the semifinals of the Australian Open, losing to Daniil Medvedev.

Tsitsipas earned his first singles title of the year in April, beating Andrey Rublev in the final at the ATP Masters Monte Carlo. He made it to a final the next week as well, losing to Rafael Nadal in Barcelona. Tsitsipas earned his second title of the year in Lyon, beating Cameron Norrie to take home the championship at his warmup for the French Open.

At Roland Garros, he made it to the final but lost to the legendary Novak Djokovic in a five-set classic as he just missed his first career Grand Slam title. The way Tsitsipas has been going this year, he looks to have a strong career ahead of him.

A near-drowning leads to a better perspective for Tsitsipas

The BBC gives details about Tsitsipas’ near-death experience in October 2016. He was swimming off the coast of Crete with a friend. A strong current dragged the pair out to sea. Not understanding what was happening, they panicked and frantically tried to fight against the current, exhausting themselves in the process.

Tsitsipas says he felt powerless during the incident and made peace with death, believing that would be the outcome. Looking back on what he calls “the day [he] was supposed to lose [his] life,” Tsitsipas says it has made him “fearless.” The French Open runner-up reflects on that day, saying it changed him “psychologically” and helped him to start seeing life “with a different perspective.”

Now, he thinks he “understands life better.” He says he’s “a person who takes better decisions” after facing death on that fateful day. Tsitsipas credits the experience with helping him on the tennis court.

Tsitsipas’ upbringing and net worth

Tsitsipas’ parents both had tennis backgrounds; mom Julia was a professional, and both her and dad Apostolos taught tennis in the Athens suburbs. With that background, their son started playing tennis at a very young age. He achieved world No. 1 status as a junio. At 16, he attended an academy run by Serena Williams‘ coach Patrick Mouratoglou, where he received elite training.

As a shy kid, he was bullied at school, admitting “it was hard” for him to talk to people, including his family. He preferred to be a good listener and observer. He’s made progress since he joined the academy in 2015. Mouratoglou recalls Tsitsipas was introverted and “developed his own world.” He still has a close relationship with his family, calling them his “stability” and admitting that he “owe[s] a lot to them.” 

All the work he put in to perfect his game at a young age has worked out for Tsitsipas. He’s accumulated an estimated net worth of $11 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. And that is likely going to grow significantly if and when he wins his first Grand Slam title.

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