Diapers and racquets: why tennis becomes family-friendly
LONDON – Asics thought of a detail for its pre-Wimbledon event. The Japanese sportswear brand invited tennis players to customize their shoes before the competition on London’s grass. Several engraved the tournament logo, or opted for a design with the traditional green and purple colors. Or a flag of their country, perhaps. Nicolas Jarry wanted something different.
“I asked for a small image of the family, including the little boy who is coming,” the Chilean, father of Juanito Jarry, told CLAY. The little one-and-a-half-year-old is perhaps the youngest person currently traveling the tour. Laura Urruti and Jarry are expecting his brother at the end of August: “We are very eager to meet him, to be with him and see how Juanito is with him. That relationship will be very good, they will be very close”.
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According to the tennis player himself, the Jarry Urruti family is the only clan that is traveling full time to tournaments on the tour. “I don’t think anyone does what we do, so no one can help us by giving us advice, really. We are the only family that travels 100 percent on the tour.”
When the sneakers with the family’s drawing stepped on Centre Court and the Chilean played against Carlos Alcaraz, the eventual champion, Juanito was probably playing in the creche of the All England Club: “They love him very much, he is so cute. We always let him hang around everywhere. He is very affectionate, he greets everyone. We let him explore, so several tennis players run into him all the time. He’s already making a name for himself.”
Ons Jabeur is one of the big names who has fallen for Juanito’s charm. In London, the Tunisian shared with Jarry Jr. and fed him in a funny moment that was shared in Twitter by DSportsCL.
EL REGALÓN DE WIMBLEDON 👶🏻
🤩 La tenista tunecina fue la primera africana finalista en un Grand Slam
— DSportsCL (@DSportsCL) June 27, 2023
Juanito is gaining a unique prominence. A stellar moment was when his father won the Chile Open, and then in his arms in the on-court interview he tried to eat the microphone. A super cute image that went viral, and that gained attention to a tournament that competes with the audiences of the biggest competitors, such as the ATP 500 in Acapulco and Dubai. Those details that make people fall in love.
The fact of taking the family to the tournaments is undoubtedly an emotional support for Jarry. Distraction factor? No. The number 27 of the ranking knows how to separate the times: “The family has its space. I am with them when I can, when there is time. There I share their affection. And when not, I dedicate myself to tennis, to my work”.
“Juan is the same age as my son, they are one month apart. They play a lot when they are on tour,” Australian Matt Ebden tells CLAY.
“Traveling with kids is difficult and very challenging, but it’s much harder when he and my wife are at home and I’m missing out on watching my son grow up. I live in Perth in Western Australia and it’s too far away from everything. I can’t go home every few of weeks, so if he doesn’t come with me, I wouldn’t be able to see him for months,” says the doubles tennis player.
“It’s not easy for the baby to move between hotels, different apartments every week, take flights. He loves planes, but jetlags are complicated.”
“And yes it’s expensive!” says his on-court partner, Rohan Bopanna. “Not so much for me…yet,” Ebden replies. His son is less than two years old, so he doesn’t pay airfare. The 43-year-old Indian travels to various events with his four-year-old daughter and his wife.
“Traveling is a fantastic learning experience and I am grateful that my daughter at four years old has already been to so many countries, new cities, trying different cuisines and meeting very diverse people. It’s great to travel with the family, and our children are making good friends,” Bopanna tells CLAY.
Ebden initially thought it would be even more difficult, but the organization of the tournaments makes it easy. A creche like the one at Wimbledon, the Australian wishes all tournaments had it. “The women who work there play a fundamental role. They feed our kids, they play with them, they look after them. I’ve only seen that at the Grand Slams. I wish the Masters 1000 and other tournaments would have that service as well,” asks the doubles champion in London last year.
It’s a trend that is on the rise, Ebden says. The average age of the tour is higher, tennis players are playing for longer. So, more and more kids will be running around the players lounge. That’s why tennis is family-friendly.