A round of golf and abig roast lunch
My weekends begin when I collect my two kids [Scarlett, seven, and John James, four] from school. Our family home is in Battersea, south west London, but at weekends when I don’t have any work commitments my wife, Lucy [an actress and producer], and I drive down to West Sussex, where we have a house near Petworth. We all love it there.
On Saturday mornings Scarlett and John James either have a riding class or a lesson on the golf course. We like to pack their weekends full of activities and golf is something you can learn at any age. I’m a big golf fan myself; I think nearly all sportsmen are because it’s a social game that still gets the competitive juices going (especially if you put a little wager on it); but it isn’t so intense that you have to stop playing as you get older.
The children are learning to play tennis as well but I’m not about to put them on a career path or anything. Obviously I’d like them to play to a reasonable standard but I think becoming a professional sportsperson is a choice you have to make yourself. If it’s the parents rather than the children who make that decision, it’ll never work out well in the long run.
My two are just starting to understand that Daddy used to play tennis for a living [he retired in April 2007]. I still play matches like this weekend’s Statoil Masters championship for veterans in the Albert Hall every year, and they’ll come to watch with their friends. I’m glad they get to see me playing in a relaxed environment, and at these old boys’ games there is nothing like the pressure I used to feel when my livelihood depended on winning. I still get a bit nervous before a game but I have to remember it’s more about entertaining the crowds at a historic venue and reminiscing with the guys I used to play against than anything serious. Most of the gang on my old circuit live abroad, so I don’t see them regularly, except for Boris [Becker], who does Sky commentary with me. Retirement has made us all more sociable, however, and we go out for dinner when we can. It’s a nice change of pace and you actually have to be careful that you don’t enjoy it too much. Often when high-level players leave a sport they put on a lot of weight because they suddenly find themselves doing absolutely nothing, so while I really don’t miss the hard fitness sessions in the gym, I do still make an effort to keep myself in check physically. I love rollerblading in Battersea Park and I’ll go for cycle Drink of choice?
Avodka and tonic. On your iPod?
Coldplay or Rihanna; I’ll listen to whatever’s popular at the moment. Best advice?
Don’t make the same mistake twice. Career highlight?
The 1997-99 years, when I was the world number one for indoor tennis. Best young British player right now?
The 18-year-old Kyle Edmund. He’s got the right attitude. If he keeps working hard I’m sure he’ll do well. Favourite place?
London is one of the greatest cities in the world. Will Arsenal win the Premier League?
It’s unlikemeto be pessimistic but no, not unless they buy two new strikers in the January sales. rides or runs – that keeps you healthy mentally too.
That said, one of our favourite activities on a weekend when we’re in the country is to head over to nearby Petworth House, where there’s an amazing chocolate shop and a fish and chip shop that keeps us all very happy. In London, we often make a family trip to Borough Market, which is always packed at weekends. I love the fact that you can buy everything you can possibly imagine at Borough. There’s one particular place I always go back to where they debone fresh chicken and make the most amazing wraps.
In the evenings my wife and I might see a film at the cinema or go to the theatre in the West End to catch a comedy or a drama (I don’t enjoy musicals per se, but we are seeing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the kids this year) or we’ll just go out for dinner. I’m quite adventurous with food because obviously I’ve travelled the world playing tennis, and London’s got it all. Lucy’s job can get very demanding at times, and I’m busier now than I ever have been – I work around 200 days a year – so we have to make the most of the gaps when we’re not working to spend time together.
Nearly everything in my professional life is still involved in tennis one way or another. I do my commentary for Sky and Eurosport on all the tennis grand slams and Masters series, and I play on the ATP Champions Tour. I’m an ambassador for the Lawn Tennis Association too, so I spend about 100 days a year coaching kids between the ages of 14 and 20, opening facilities and travelling around the country seeing the best new players. I enjoy working with youngsters, catching up on what progress is being made and guessing who is going to be the Andy Murray of the future. It’s been amazing to watch Andy’s progress and his win at Wimbledon this summer wasn’t even a surprise. I predicted it before the tournament began; I just felt like he was at the top of his game. It was still a magical moment seeing the
Full stretch: Greg now plays Masters matches, above; and enjoys family time with wife Lucy, left