Greek tennis sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas’s commitment to helping fund Victorian education initiatives for the underprivileged has endeared him even more to all Australians, touching the heart of the nation, and resulting in a 'strong push' to make him an honorary Australian.
In a revealing on-court interview with Channel Nine’s Jim Courier after his quarter-final victory, Tsitsipas vowed to support the education of underprivileged children by funding the building of a school in Victoria, if he wins the Australian Open.
“I’d love one day, hopefully to win the Aussie Open and give a portion of the prize money to build a school in Victoria, which is the state of education. I’d like to do that,” said Tsitsipas, also expressing his love of Australia and demonstrating the progress he has made in learning the local slang.
“Let’s put tennis on the side because there are much more important things in life, I believe,” said the 24 year old star.
“I saw that Victoria is the state of education. There’s an idea for me over there, that came to my mind.
“I’ve seen how difficult it is for a lot of kids around the world to go to school and get a proper education, which is important because you know not all kids grow up privileged.
“I would really like to give an opportunity to kids here in this state to build a school and provide them with free education, and anything else.
“And to put it into words – that’s what Australia means to me.”
Singles champions will win almost $3 million this year at the Australian Open, which Tsitsipas calls his “home slam”.
“I grew up in a climate that is very similar to the place I come from in southwestern Attica. It always reminds me of home a little bit when I’m here,” said third seed Tsitsipas, following what was his fourth semi-final victory on Tuesday.
“The conditions are similar. It’s not very humid, it’s not very tropical. I can say it’s similar to the Athenian Riviera. Another reason, another plus is wherever I look, I see Greek faces, I see Greek people speaking Greek.
“Of course, it’s very important when you’re far away from home to have that sort of feeling, to connect even more with the culture that you’re at. It feels very welcoming when you’re able to walk around and feel that.
“It’s for sure my home slam; I would consider that, yes, ‘cause Melbourne is the second-biggest city after Athens with the biggest Greek population. I would consider it my home slam.
“The French people have Roland Garros, the Brits have Wimbledon, the Americans have the US Open. For me it’s the Australian Open.”
“When Tsitsipas first arrived in Australia in 2019 and he won the Australian Open semi finals no one was expecting it,” said Greek Community of Melbourne President President Bill Papastergiadis, speaking to Greek City Times.
“We held an event at the Greek Community of Melbourne to honour Tsitsipas for making the semi final in January 2019.
“We awarded him with a plaque and he met all of our members.
“Tsitsipas is a great ambassador for both countries. He is helping to build bridges and strengthen the connection between two countries Greece and Australia, that share the same values and ideals.
“We are proud that he regards us as home."
Papastergiadis says that following Tsitsipas choosing the Australian Open as his home tournament, there is a strong push to make him an honorary Australian.
“We support his important initiatives,” Papastergiadis says speaking for the Greek Community of Melbourne.
“We stand beside him in his journey. He has made us proud.”