Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
4 May 2022
5:46 pm

OPINION: Kevin Anderson was wayward, but will always be one of us

Wesley Botton

Focusing on the tour, he ultimately rose to No 5 in the world rankings and made a name for himself as a grinder.

Kevin Anderson faced Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final of 2018. Picture: TPN/Getty Images

Kevin Anderson has been a divisive figure for most of his career, but that divide wasn’t caused by him. It was created by us.

A giant on the court with a monstrous serve, Anderson rose to the highest echelons of international tennis, and though he no doubt received assistance from his home country in his early years, during his professional career he was pretty much out on his own.

Settling down in the United States after competing on the collegiate circuit, he secured his own sponsors, paid his own coach, his own physio and however many other people who formed part of his team over the years.

When he reached the finals at the US Open and Wimbledon, he didn’t do it with our help. He got there without us.

And while he initially did avail himself for the national Davis Cup team, it’s a bit cheeky for us to make much of a noise about his absence during the better years of his career.

Tennis SA repeatedly tried to rope him back in, but Anderson insisted he wanted to focus on the ATP Tour, rather than disrupting his progress up the rankings with training camps and matches for a national squad which was unable to qualify for the top-tier World Group in the Davis Cup.

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Focusing on the tour, he ultimately rose to No 5 in the world rankings and made a name for himself as a grinder. He worked so hard he broke himself down, with persistent injuries playing a part in his retirement this week.

Perhaps what’s most important for us to remember, now that he’s called time on his career, is that the SA flag appeared next to his name every time he played on the top-flight tour for more than a decade, and he always represented the country with dignity.

He was a proudly South African player and it would be wrong to villainise him for some of the decisions he made after we left him out in the dark.

We might not have always been there for each other, but Kevin Anderson will always be one of us. And he was one of our best.