Although our fascination with the lifestyles of our favourite tennis players don’t quite reach the same levels of obsessive fandom as say, film stars or musicians, there still seems to be a rapt audience out eager to hear the tiniest little details of what happens with these players off-court. Whether it’s news reports about the Federer twins appearing at their dad’s games, even though this type of family support is a relatively regular occurrence with amateur players across the land, or articles and blog posts dedicated to how enthusiastically the current Novak Djokovic girlfriend – Jelena Ristic – supports her partner during his games, it seems tennis fans simply can’t get enough of this type of information.
But just why are tennis fans so fascinated with the private lives of our favourite players? Could it be down to the dominating influence of celebrity culture, is it because we’re interested in these individuals as people first and professional athletes second, or is it because the actual game of professional tennis itself no longer holds such fascination for us?
It seems to be a natural occurrence in this increasingly media-dominant world that, as soon as an individual in any sport or activity excels themselves to the point of reaching the public consciousness, immediately we want to know more and more about them. It’s no longer enough that our tennis players can be superbly talented individuals, they also either have to have that picture-perfect family life (as in the case with the Federer twins) or should be some sort of anti-hero who is reluctant to settle down and commit (see the recent Murray girlfriend debacle for further proof of this!).
Of course, this appetite for media-friendly gossip can sometimes overpower the real news stories about professional sports players, particularly in the tennis world. With so many major tournaments now taking place throughout the world, and with the tennis season running practically all year round it can be difficult to find out how well the underdogs and lower-seeded players are performing. Although the Big Four are likely to be dominating the professional tennis scene for a good few years to come – despite their career successes only Federer has actually entered his third decade on earth – it’s still important to find out about those up and coming players who are beginning to make names for themselves.