"Before, I was just ‘tennis, tennis, tennis’ and now I have my whole family. It’s something that I think I missed, one piece of the puzzle that got in and everything just clicked"
The puzzle piece missing for Stefan Olsson slotted into place after the birth of his son Vincenzo early last year, and the Swede believes it is no coincidence that he has not lost a wheelchair singles match at Wimbledon in the two championships since.
Olsson, the sixth seed, dropped his first set of the tournament in Sunday’s final against Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina, but won the match 6-2, 0-6, 6-3 to defend his title and add a second Grand Slam to the pair won in doubles in 2009-10.
Fatherhood, he believes, has been a key factor.
“I am pretty sure that is one of the reasons why I am playing so well all the time now,’’ said Olsson, who missed last year’s Australian Open to be present for wife Miriami’s delivery of Vincenzo.
“I don’t really have any downs, playing so well. Much because of him, because I have something else to focus on as well. Before, I was just ‘tennis, tennis, tennis’ and now I have my whole family. It’s something that I think I missed, one piece of the puzzle that got in and everything just clicked.”
Emulating Diede de Groot, also the first player to go back-to-back in the women’s singles, Olsson said both titles were immensely satisfying. “It’s still unbelievable to win twice,” he said. “I was so nervous.
“I am still trying to calm down after the match. I can’t compare them at the moment, it is so big – the biggest thing in my tennis career, for sure.”
Olsson had been responsible for one of the highlights of the tournament when he fell out of his wheelchair during a long rally in Saturday’s doubles final loss with partner Joachim Gerard against British pair Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid, then righted himself to play a winning forehand crosscourt.
There was a different type of drama in the singles, as his wife and son again watched on. The Swede had not lost more than four games in any set of his four played en route to the final, and he continued that exceptional form early against Fernandez, who had eliminated top seed Shingo Kuneida in the opening round.
But Olsson failed to win a game at all in the second set against the heavy-hitting Fernandez, whose powerful game is well-suited to grass.
“I got nervous, I got really nervous and I just lost control of my serve,’’ Olsson said. “As soon as I hit my double fault, I was like ‘why did you do that?’ And then some bad spell. Then you were thinking too much and he took advantage straight away.
“He played really well, every shot pretty much was on the line and everything. It was so difficult. I am just happy that I got back, refocused and was ready to go for the third set.”
The winner’s cheque of £40,000 helps the 31-year-old to make a basic living, if not a terribly good one, and, without any endorsements, the harsh reality is that he needs to reach the semi-finals of most tournaments he plays. But Olson says he does have one sponsor at the moment: Wimbledon.
It is not so terribly different for Diede de Groot, the singles champion who became the first woman to complete the wheelchair double, by combining with Japan’s Yui Kamiji to defeat third seeds Sabine Ellerbrock and Lucy Shuker 6-1, 6-1.
Kamiji’s fifth consecutive Wimbledon doubles title was her first partnering de Groot, who was initially unaware of the history she had just made. The Dutch 21-year-old rated it as the best week of her career. “Wimbledon for me will always be very special,’’ said De Groot, who won the first singles major of her short career at the All England Club last year, and now owns three.
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