“Everything about the way I play is from my mom.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas He has no doubt about the influence his mother, former WTA professional Julia Apostoli, had on his rise to the top of the game. Not only in terms of nurturing and supporting him on the field since he was young, but also in terms of directly influencing the fundamentals of his game.
“The one-handed backhand, the serve and the occasional volley, it’s from my mom,” the nine-time tour all-rounder told ATPTour.com this week. “My mom was a very aggressive player. Nowadays you don’t see many women with one backhand, but she had a beautiful one, her best stroke was the one she used very effectively. It’s something I consider an asset too. She taught me a lot about that shot And she gave me advice on the net match, too.”
This week in Perth, Tsitsipas captained Team Greece United Cup campaign alongside another top 10 star who grew up as a child tennis player, WTA No. 6 Maria Sakkari. Her mother, Angeliki Canelopolo, reached a career high of No. 43 in the WTA rankings in 1987.
“I think it’s a very special thing for us to do [Stef and I] “Two very good players, both of whom have special mothers,” said Sakkari. “For us, it’s inspiring to have two very strong women in our lives and support us.
“You always tell me to enjoy it because a tennis career is so short. Towards the end of your career, you realize you should have enjoyed it more, so that’s what you’re trying to teach me. I think I’ve been doing really well lately, and I’m enjoying my time on the tour.”
Maria Sakkari and her mother, Angeliki Canilopoulou. Image source: WTA/Jimmeie48
Apostoli and Kanellopoulou, who know each other well, are regular presences at Tsitsipas and Sakkari’s team boxes on tour, and both are happy to discuss their own experiences playing professionally if it helps guide their children through their careers.
“It is very beneficial to have a player who has played at the professional level,” said Al-Saqari. “They can really understand all these feelings we have on the court and obviously they teach us a lot of things and tell us their opinions. The main thing is to have their support because they know exactly how we feel on the court. If I’m struggling, I can ask my mum for advice, which is something Very useful.”
“I instilled discipline,” added Tsitsipas of the Apostoli. “She hasn’t been easy with me, and I think that’s for a reason that makes me my biggest strength. She’s also a very loving and caring mother. I owe a lot to her. One thing I probably learned from her is that you don’t have anything outside or from the other side of the field affecting you, that’s the way it is.” With which you can put yourself down and even lose matches.”
Neither Tsitsipas, 24, nor Skari, 27, are old enough to remember their mother’s professional playing career. However, Sakkari admitted that Kanelopoulou’s legacy alone, particularly in Greece, didn’t always make things easy for her as she tried to forge her own career in the game.
“At this age that I loved tennis, I was too young to understand what my mom is,” said Scarry. “She has a big name at home in the tennis community. Once I realized she was a very good player, it wasn’t easy to get along with her. Everyone expects you to win because your mom was so good. At the same time, I found a way to stop her and play my tennis, but I was Always by my side.”
For Tsitsipas, at least one of his mother’s accomplishments as a professional is symbolically linked to his career. The 24-year-old is a two-time champion Rolex Monte Carlo Masterswhere Apostoli also won a singles title during her career.
“It was quite an achievement to share my name with my mom on the wall at the Monte Carlo Country Club,” said Tsitsipas. “I remember going there for the first time when I was about 10 years old and seeing my mom’s name on the board. I was just thinking, ‘Maybe one day I can achieve something similar.'”
“This is where my whole career started. I used to go to the south of France and play local tournaments when I was eight. The Monte Carlo Country Club was one of the first clubs I visited abroad and one of the first tournaments I watched as a kid. To be able On seeing Nadal take on Federer and other tennis legends, he has a special connection in our family.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas / Julia Apostoli “/> Stefanos Tsitsipas He hugs his mother, Giulia Apostoli, after his win in Monte Carlo in 2021. Photo credit: Valery Hache/AFP via Getty
Even though she doesn’t remember them, Scarry still draws lessons from her mother’s stories about her playing days.
“Of course there were a lot of stories,” said the two-time Grand Slam finalist. “When they were playing, it was more difficult to travel and communicate. The differences now and then don’t shock us, but they make us appreciate more how easy life is today.”
Not all old family tales set the best example for the next generation, however, and there is something Tsitsipas acknowledged when he shared a light-hearted tale from his mother’s early days.
“My mother and her twin sister used to play doubles a lot, they were champions of the Soviet Union,” Tsitsipas explained. “My aunt served all the time when they played doubles because she served better and the opponent realized that many times [only one of them was serving]. The referee told them to change their socks so that he could separate them!
“These are some of the clever techniques and mindset my mom implemented in me… [But] Not in a bad way!”