Life after tennis – a look at some of the more unusual “2nd careers” pursued by tennis pros
The downside to becoming a pro in any sport is that you’re a long time retired. That’s even more the case in tennis than in other physically demanding sports. Careers are lasting longer today than they used to, but still, it is unusual to be playing beyond 35.
That leaves a good 30 years before reaching an age when most people retire. Many tennis pros go into coaching of one kind or another, from teaching kids at academies to helping wealthy individuals improve their backhands on private courts. Others find opportunities in the world of media and broadcasting as commentators, writers or talking heads. And others – well, others take a different path as the following examples show.
Boris Becker – poker star and business investor
It’s surprising how many pro sports players are also good poker players. There is inevitably a lot of waiting around at tennis tournaments, and that provides an ideal opportunity to learn to play poker. Boris Becker started playing in celebrity poker tournaments in 2007 and discovered he was as good at working out what are the odds in poker as he was at calculating the percentages of different tennis shots.
Becker is also a majority shareholder in Völkl, the tennis racquet and equipment manufacturer that he always used during his playing career.
Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf – serial investors
They were sport’s ultimate power couple and today they would have some sort of portmanteau name like “Standre” – but Agassi and Graf have avoided all the usual celebrity noise and nonsense. In fact, they have generally broken all the “celebrity power couple” rules. They have invested wisely, they have kept mostly out of the public limelight and, most shocking of all, they have remained together through more than 20 years of marriage.
Their investments seem diverse: a water park in the Nevada desert, a furniture brand, endorsement deals with Kia Motors and T-Mobile to name just a few. But each has been carefully thought out, and as well as adding to the couple’s considerable wealth – they are worth about $250 million – their businesses also generate money for their many charitable foundations.
Pat Rafter – property dealer
Pat Rafter was arguably the biggest underachiever of the 1990s. A man of his talent should have won so many more grand slams than the two US Opens that he did. When he retired in 2001, he was still only 29. Careers really were short back then.
His $11 million career prize money was not as significant as some sports star earnings, but Rafter invested his wisely in bricks and mortar in his native Australia. He has displayed a good eye for the right property and an auspicious sense of timing in knowing when to buy and sell, and that has helped him to make a profitable business of flipping homes. This even included his beloved home on the sunshine coast, which he parted with for a little over $15 million last year.
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