The British former tennis star was in Abu Dhabi last weekend giving advice at the SummerFest Tennis Tournament on Yas Island.
Is this your first trip to Abu Dhabi?
I’ve been here for the HSBC golf tournament and I enjoyed it. I was looking forward to coming for the tennis, obviously; the SummerFest here has been going on for a few years but it’s obviously different with the timing of Ramadan and I was really looking forward to seeing the standard of the players. I hopefully gave them a few things to work on and to go away and think about.
How good was this year’s Wimbledon tournament?
It was amazing. During the whole fortnight there were so many unpredictable matches, right through to the end. Obviously during Andy Murray’s final match the atmosphere was incredible. He showed unbelievable courage and strength of character and mental toughness to get over the line when he was two sets to love, 5-4 games, 40-love up. You think it’s over and he’ll win easily. Then Novak Djokovic fought back and Andy had to save break points. It’s an amazing achievement and he should feel incredibly proud.
What’s been the most exciting part of your trip to Abu Dhabi?
Seeing some of the young talent and trying to help them out a bit. There’s obviously a big interest in the game over here, and there’s a huge interest in sport in the region in general. It was good fun.
Could someone from the UAE win Wimbledon?
It’s a really tough thing to do. The standard of the game is so high. But there’s absolutely no reason why not. They’ve got good facilities here and there’s some good coaching in the region. But I think it boils down to the desire and the motivation of the individuals and it’s a big commitment. Hopefully there are going to be more and more people playing the game and the better ones always come through to the top of the game.
It must be inspirational having a former star giving local players tips?
Role models are important. They especially are in the UK. Look at what Andy Murray has been able to achieve. I think we’ve got to really latch onto that and try and get the next generation of kids playing tennis.
What common mistakes do people make when learning to play tennis?
There are different things, such as people try to hit the ball a bit too hard. It’s all about working out what [ability] they’ve got and working on some of their technical issues.
Did you go sightseeing in Abu Dhabi?
Yes. I’ve never visited at this time of year so I was expecting it to be brutally hot. I was quite interested to see how hot it was going to be – and it was.