HTLS 2020 - Not knowing when to play next has been tough - Agassi on impact of Covid-19 on tennis players
Covid-19 has impacted people across all walks of life in some way or the other. On Thursday, former tennis greats Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf spoke about how they are dealing with the changes that the pandemic has brought about in their lives and also about the way it has affected tennis players and other athletes around the world, while speaking to senior sports journalist Ayaz Memon on day 5 of the 18th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.
“It’s been tough across the board for the entire world and even for the sports world. I am lucky to be involved in education as that gives me an outlet to figure out some solutions in the schools that I manage. This time has made us all come together despite being separate. It has made us better cooks (laughs), it has made us come together as a family,” Agassi said while narrating his personal experience of dealing with the lockdown.
Steffi Graf echoed similar feelings but also spoke about the positives of family life that the lockdown has led to.
“There have been several challenges like we not being able to be with you guys in person today. But there have been benefits too. The kids have been more at home and there has been a lot more family time. We have spent a lot of quality time with the kids. We are trying to take the positives but when you look around the world and the struggles that people have had to face, it has been tough,” Graf, winner of 22 women’s singles grand slams, said.
Talking about how the lockdown has impacted tennis players Agassi said that the toughest thing for players has been to deal with the unknown. The lack of clarity of when things will return to normal has been a challenge for the players he felt.
“The most difficult part is the unknown. Not knowing when you’re going to play and what the circumstances are going to be. So the unknown is tough. That’s been a big deal, not knowing when to play. I call it a great equaliser. Players who are older – Federer, or Serena – you start realising that missing this time tricks your body. All of a sudden, you’re asked to shut down and restart. Not going to be easy for some more than the others,” Agassi opined.
Agassi is an 8-time grand slam champion and a gold medal winner at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Graf is a former legend of the women’s game, winning 22 grand slams and also the Olympic gold in the year 1988. The two former greats have been married since 2001 and have been working for the cause of underprivileged children since retiring from the game.