If you’d asked me that question in 2005 my immediate answer would be “not at all”. That was the year I was told I was “un-patriotic” by a nameless stranger in a Melbourne bar after loudly and publicly supporting Andy Roddick against Lleyton Hewitt in the Australian Open semi final.
The comment didn’t bother me though.
I know that for a lot of people, the media has a role in who they support, as local players often receive more coverage than other players. And for example in Australia, due to the Australian Open series, the non-hard-core-tennis public is way more aware of tennis during January than during the rest of the year.
But for me, I found the comment annoying because, like a lot of serious tennis fans, I don’t pick which tennis players I support based on the country they are from.
Or so I used to think.
In 2005 I also supported Marat Safin in the final against Lleyton Hewitt, and was very disturbed that the pub in Sydney where I was watching the match turned the TV off at the end of play (before the trophy presentations), assuming that no one would want to watch it because Lleyton didn’t win.
I’ve always been proud to be Australian and support Australians but when it comes to tennis I pick players based on merit and personality.
Or so I used to think.
Then I realised that lately a lot of players that I support are Australian. Although I was never a fan of Lleyton early in his tennis career, these days I have nothing but respect and admiration for everything that he’s achieved and I love listening when he’s in the commentary box.
Pat Rafter is one of my all time legends of the game and Sam Stosur is my current favourite amongst the ladies.
Could that be a coincidence, or is their Aussie-ness more important than I realised?
I was prompted to think about this recently when I was asked to write articles for Tennis Grandstand while I’m at the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open later this year. We were discussing the topics I could write about and it was suggested that I could pick a few players and write about their progress at each tournament – so I suggested that I could follow all the Australian players.
What a great idea!
That’s something I would love to do and something I would be proud to do.
Then I got to thinking about why I loved that idea so much.
And now here we are, discussing the link between patriotism and which tennis player you support.
So I’ve shared my jumbled thoughts.
But we also need to consider Davis Cup and Fed Cup.
They should be a different story, right?
Because players are playing for their country.
But in a reverse of the above, I don’t think I could ever support an Australian player against Rafa, no matter how much I wanted Australia to win.
More jumbling of thoughts.
Maybe my growing tennis patriotism is an age thing.
And maybe now I appreciate my country’s commitment to tennis more than ever before.
And maybe it helps that there are a lot of support-worthy Australian tennis players on the scene right now.
To get broader input on the question, I checked with my Twitter peeps and here are the replies. The first one makes a great point!
@Komnene I would say not at all, but then somehow I became a Bernie Tomic fan, and patriotism’s the only explanation I’ve got for that… maybe patriotism’s the gateway? Makes you consider players you wouldn’t otherwise
for me it’s mostly about patriotism, especially as a Brit with the fab AM being our best player for 70+ years. I supported Tim Henman prior to that etc. But I’m also v taken by personality – I admired John McEnroe when he did his thing at Wimby at 18 and I’ve been seduced by the current crop of gorgeous and charming Spaniards such as D Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez, Rafa! But generally for me it’s a #Britwatch thing. Others have to be v special to get on my faves list! I remember being at the O2 and being genuinely shocked by the no of Brits cheering for Roger when he played Andy there in 2009 in the round robin match.
@caropaquin80 For me, it’s really only in DC/Olympics that it matters. Rest of time, if a player I like is Cdn, then it’s just a player I like, like all the other players I like. Doesn’t matter to me if he’s Canadian or not.
@Tennis_Wise Not a lot, I support whoever’s tennis style I prefer, and their personality comes into it too but that’s not as essential
@Mariska_1980 nothing… I am dutch but not a fan of dutch players…
@mettelli it doesn’t impact me. I like players based on their personality rather than where they are from. Aussie players as included.
@kirstlin I emigrated to Aus from UK when I was 12. Tim Henman always had my support but I love Murray……when he wins a Slam! the only Aussie I’ve ever really backed is Pat Rafter cause he is just gorg (inside and out).
@chelez17 unfortunately, no players in top 100 from my country so very rare chance to show patriotism.
And here’s another great question
Andy B @AndybPERTH Do you think players who become new citizens of a country are as patriotic as players who play for their country of origin?
What do you think?
Does patriotism have an impact on which tennis players you support?
Perhaps more than you realised…. or does it just make you wish you lived in Switzerland, Spain or Serbia?
And would you ever wear clothes representing a country other than your own (that you have no family ties with), in support of a tennis player?
Feel free to leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Grand Slam Gal