When you find “more excitement” in tennis after leaving the nightlife behind – in depth interview with Liam Broady

Liam Broady
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Putting away the adrenaline and surprises that brings the nightlife at the peak of youth is a sacrifice that has paid off for Liam Broady: “I spent too much time in the clubs and in the bars. Now I find more excitement on the tennis”.

Did he waste time and hurt his career? Not at all. In an interview with CLAY that took place in Doha, the British tennis player, whose highest ranking is 116th, shows the flesh-and-blood side of the athlete.

A street with large crowds, nightclubs competing for the loudest music, young people sniffing ‘laughing gas’ from balloons, and plenty of sexual services on offer. Khao San Road is one of those places where Broady has been happiest in his life: “When people go travling they just wanna be free and have a good time”.

Because eating scorpions very drunk in the most famous street of Bangkok, and losing in the first rounds of the qualifiers of the Challengers for carrying an unsustainable hangover was necessary for the moment he lives today. The focus now is set on making the leap to the top hundred and the direct entry to the main draws of the Grand Slams.

– You are from Manchester, where nightlife is huge. Must be difficult to avoid it… unless you don’t really want to.

– When I was younger, I didn’t progress as much as I wanted to as a player, because I spent too much time in the clubs and in the bars in Manchester and in around the world. Some fun tournaments in Thailand where I didn’t play much tennis. I lost a lot, but had a lot of fun on Khaosan Road and Koh Phi Phi. Too much fun that I enjoyed, but my ranking wasn’t doing really well and after a few years I decided right, I need to focus on my tennis.

– Work instead of party. When this started to happen?

– I made this change in 2019, when I was 25 years old. So I said let’s have one year when I focus on the tennis and I sacrifice the fun and see what happens. By the end of the year it was my best season, so, again, let’s see what happens for another year. The following year I qualified for my first Slam in the French Open, added a few more good results, so every year I’m more excited to see what happens. I played the Olympics, the Australian Open, won a couple of Challengers… even the small result make it worth it for me.

– So it was a good decision to leave the alcohol and the nightlife behind.

– I think so, yeah. My sister just had two babies. In November she celebrated the baby shower, had a good time, had some drinks. That was probably the first time I’ve been drunk for a year and a half. I value my tennis too highly know. Is my biggest priority. Maybe when I retire, I’ll disappear (laugher). No one will see me for a year, I’ll just have a nice time, maybe I go to South America and see what it’s like there. I’m a big fan of cultures, architecture, history. There are so many wonders located in South America.

Broady in Thailand, one of his favourite places in the world // INSTAGRAM @liambroady

– What would be your ideal disappearance?

– I always say I’d go back to Thailand, to the islands. For me, the best time of my life is there.

– C’mon, tell me a good story.

– No! (big laugh). I actually went for two Challengers. I lost the first week and as there were two of the British guys out there, we said we were gonna go to Koh Phi Phi for three days between the tournaments. So one was like ‘aaagh, I cant go, I need to prepare for the next tournament’, and I said ‘look, I’m going, I don’t give a shit, I’ll go by myself if I have to’. The other guy came with me. We went for three days and went back the day before the qualifying. It was so hot there, and I was still hangover on the court! I lost so fast! It’s good to look back and have those memories and stories. Now I find more excitement on the tennis.

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– So all of that fun was something necessary in your life for now chasing important stuff in tennis.

– I think so, because when I was even younger I didn’t get to do that, so then I had two years where I enjoyed the party. In college tennis, for a lot of tennis players that go to the university in the US, they play lots of matches and also have a lot of fun with the college lifestyle. They get all out of the system when they are young and they become pro and can be focused. I didn’t really have that, because I was a very good junior and then went straight to professional, so never had a time to be a kid and have fun, then I ended having that a few years later.

– Definitely Khao San is one of the craziest streets in the world.

– It’s so cool, hey? I loved it. I just remember being so hot at 1 am. The buckets with the alcohol, the insects they sell there.

– Did you eat any?

– I had a scorpion. It was ok, wasn’t so bad. I was very drunk, otherwise maybe I would not have eat it. The black scorpion on a stick with salt, pepper and soy sauce. It was ok, I got parts of the shield stuck between my teeth, but other than that it was ok.

The snacks offered in Khao San Road, the busiest street of Bangkok // SEBASTIAN VARELA

– So much happening in that place. The insects as snacks, people getting massages in the street next to a bar that tries to have the loudest music in the block.

– And everybody going crazy on the tables. It’s cool because people that goes there is so like open minded and wants to have fun and live life. When people go traveling, they all go with the same mindset. They just want to be free and have a good time.

– A lot of sex workers as well.

– I think they where, yeah (laugher). Because they were a lot of people out there asking me so many strange things and I was like no, thanks, I’m ok (laughs).

– Is sex work legal where you live? In Thailand looks like it’s legal, however is not.

– I watched a few documentaries on TV in England about sex workers in Manchester, and a lot of the sex workers were actually saying that should be a legal profession. It needs to be regulated and find more safety for the workers. Don’t have much idea, to be honest, I’d have to understand more, for sure.

– Why non elite male tennis player have come out as gay ever?

– A football player and maybe a rugby player came out recently, which is good. Hopefully starts to develop like this and more and more people feel comfortable. Same in tennis and in life: most people would be completely normal and be like congratulations, well done, no problem; but there’s always some people maybe that would be close minded and maybe that’s why they might think they wouldn’t be accepted by all the players. Maybe they feel that coming out will add pressure to their tennis. I can understand why is complicated. I hope that if people were, they feel comfortable to come out and be themselves.

– How does it feel to play Nick Kyrgios in a busy Australian stadium?

– It was good fun, stressful, the crowd was crazy, obviously Nick is pretty crazy in a tennis court as well. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a tennis match to play with him, it can feel almost like a practice, because the way he plays makes you relax and then he plays really good and focus, and then he drops again. Is like playing a bit of cat & mouse. It was a fantastic experience for me, and I think it was good to face a crowd so strongly for the other player. It was great to maybe learn how to handle it and deal with it yourself. Specially to someone who is my sort of ranking. Biggest matches are in that sort of environment.

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– You are a good friend of Andy Murray.

– I think this year he is going to do good after going throw injuries and changes in his tennis. He seems in a good place in his head and his tennis is good as well.

– Is it fun to go to a pub with him?

– He is a big joker, very sarcastic. He likes to have a laugh and get involved. He is very humble.

– You are very active in Twitter.

– Yeah, I’ve been in Twitter now for 10 years, so I see a lot of the tennis Twitter stuff.

– Are the events better when they mix genders? Do you guys and girls share much?

– When you are younger in the juniors, and in the Futures when in mixed events everybody interacts more, but in ATP and WTA level everyone is so professional and so focused. There’s no much interactions. I think lots of both of the guys and girls prefer to have events separated, because then there are no issues with the practice courts, schedules, and stuff like this. Just for a matter of the preparation.

– Do you flirt with each other?

– Well, my girlfriend is a player so if I flirt with other girl players she would probably beat my ass (laugh).

– As a Manchester City big fan, how excited you feel to have Erling Haaland in your team?

– It’s amazing. When Sheikh Mansour bought the club, we bought Robinho on the deadline day, but is the first time we sign one of the top two players in the world. Mbappe and Haaland are the next superstars after Cristiano and Messi, so having one of them, for a ManCity fan is so strange: an amazing feeling and very exciting. Similar with (Sergio) Agüero, but we didn’t expect him to be as good as he became. Whereas with Haaland you are already signing a player who is the best in the world. Every time when you watch him play you feel something is gonna happen. He is so fast, so strong!

– Sad for Aguero the way he finished his career?

– Such a shame because he never won the champions league with ManCity. He deserved it. An incredible player, one of the best strikers, ever in the Premier League. And then Argentina winning the World Cup. He would have been in the team, obviously if his heart was ok. I’m sure he still feels he belongs to the team.

– Which team was a Brit supporting in the World Cup final? Argentina or France? 

– For me it was Messi versus Mbappe, right? The best World Cup final ever. Before the game I wanted Argentina to win because France beat England and my French friends were giving me so much shit. But Argentinians could use some dirty tactics, so by the end of the game I wanted France to win.

– Football could be much dirtier than tennis definitely.

– I understand you would do anything to win the World Cup. If English players did the same I would have been so happy.

– Would you share this interview in your social media?

– Yes, for sure.

If you enjoyed this interview with Liam Broady, don’t miss this link to many other interviews with the great tennis stars.

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