ROONEY RELISHES NET WORK
Having grown up with an unusual name, former Olympic swimmer Giaan Rooney has empathy for tennis players with multi-syllabic surnames.
“I think Novak Djokovic was a great example,” she says.
“I remember watching an interview and he was asked, ‘How do we say your name?’ He was like, ‘No-vack Jock-o-vitch’, and everyone was like, ‘finally!’ because we didn’t know. There are very few names that are not questionable these days, in any sport, but tennis particularly. And coming from me, that’s saying something.”
Rooney has boned up on her pronunciation in preparation for the 2015 Australian Open, where she is part of the commentary team for Channel 7.
It’s her second stint reporting at the tennis, but she missed last year, as she was heavily pregnant with her first son, Zander, who is nearly 10 months old.
“This is my first foray back into proper full-time work since I’ve had him. I’ve been lucky to do part time for a while now, and that’s worked out brilliantly. We don’t have any family in Melbourne, so I’ve flown my lovely mum down from the Gold Coast and she’s being our babysitter for a couple of weeks. Otherwise we would’ve been quite stuck.”
An average day at the tennis ... well, she admits there’s no such thing. Rooney’s brief is to find stories off-court, “those interesting titbits about players that people might not know”, and she will juggle tennis duties with reading the weekend weather reading in Melbourne.
If necessary, she might even pick up a racquet during the tournament — in a strictly professional capacity.
“I get on court and have a little hit and embarrass myself,” she says. “I did every (sport) growing up. But once you’re in swimming, and show promise, it’s all about swimming.”
Giaan Rooney is covering the Australian Open.