His curly hair, striking gaze and muscular body have earned him the nickname ‘the Greek God’ – now thousands of female tennis fans will be praying for his divine presence throughout the Wimbledon fortnight.
Athens-born Stefanos Tsitsipas has already won an army of admirers thanks to his chiselled features and flowing locks, but he is predicted to recruit even more when he takes to the SW19 courts this week.
The 6ft 5in athlete, who is also a keen photographer, has offered a glimpse of his dashing looks via a series of eye-catching pictures posted to his 1.4 million Instagram followers. In one, he poses topless in a pair of tracksuit bottoms in sunny Athens, prompting one breathless fan to describe him as a ‘beauty’. Other shots show him on holiday on the island of Mykonos.
When asked about his increasing popularity, the tennis ace modestly replied: ‘It’s nice to receive love.’
Athens-born Stefanos Tsitsipas has already won an army of admirers thanks to his chiselled features and flowing locks, but he is predicted to recruit even more when he takes to the SW19 courts this week
The Wimbledon cheers will only be slightly muted by the news that 22-year-old Stefanos has already got a girlfriend – a stunningly beautiful half-Greek fashion publicist who lives in Chelsea, West London.
Friends say he is ‘painfully shy’, but two years ago he plucked up the courage to ask Theodora Petalas, now 25, on a date after meeting her through friends.
He admitted: ‘We first met in New York and I liked her very much, but I was shy then and did not express my feelings. But two years ago I asked her out on a date. I asked her to go to Brooklyn to snap some photos and I think she liked that. I have a lot of feelings for her – I think she feels the same and our relationship is something very special.’
Despite the demands of the gruelling professional tennis circuit, he said: ‘I don’t think a day has gone by that we haven’t spoken, and our chemistry is very good.
Friends say he is ‘painfully shy’, but two years ago he plucked up the courage to ask Theodora Petalas (pictured), now 25, on a date after meeting her through friends
The Wimbledon cheers will only be slightly muted by the news that 22-year-old Stefanos (pictured at Wimbledon in 2018) has already got a girlfriend – a stunningly beautiful half-Greek fashion publicist who lives in Chelsea, West London
‘She also plays tennis, and when I play with her, it is my favourite moment on the court. It brings a huge smile to my face.’
Experts predict his looks and impressive tennis skills – he reached the final of the French Open this month but lost to the vastly more experienced Novak Djokovic – will net him millions in lucrative endorsement deals. ‘He’s seen as the next big thing,’ said a tennis insider. ‘There is a long list of suitors ready to use him to sell their products, watches, clothes, you name it. They want him’.
The Adonis-like star is not just a pretty face. ‘Stefanos is quite the philosophical type – he follows Plato and Socrates. He is a deep thinker and very proud to be Greek,’ the friend revealed.
However, life has not been all glamour for Stefanos, the son of tennis teachers Apostolos Tsitsipas and Julia Apostoli. He has revealed that he was bullied at school for his commitment to tennis, and in 2016, he nearly drowned when he got dragged out to sea while swimming off the coast of Crete. He recalled: ‘That was the day I saw life with a different perspective.
‘I remember after that how much psychologically it changed me.’
The 7ft tennis ace tipped to hit new heights: Reilly Opelka, 23, is America’s top-ranked player at Wimbledon and has had string of strong performances
At an imposing 6ft 11in, Reilly Opelka would have been a towering figure at this year’s Wimbledon – even before a string of impressive recent performances that have seen him tipped for the top.
But the 23-year-old, who grew up in Florida, may never have graced the pristine courts of the All England Club had it not been for a chance encounter on a golf course.
Opelka’s father George was playing a round by himself at a course in Daytona Beach when he was invited to pair up with another solo golfer, Tom Gullikson, a former tennis pro turned coach.
At an imposing 6ft 11in, Reilly Opelka would have been a towering figure at this year’s Wimbledon – even before a string of impressive recent performances that have seen him tipped for the top
When Opelka Sr mentioned that his then eight-year-old son had begun swinging a racket, Gullikson invited the youngster for a lesson to and quickly realised he was a prodigy.
Even though he existed on cheeseburgers and Mexican fast food during his teens, Opelka quickly flew up the world rankings. His breakthrough came in 2018 when he won three Challenger tournaments, the first American to do so in four years.
Last month he beat a string of top players to reach the semi-finals of the Italian Open. Now America’s top-ranked player, he is seeded 27th for Wimbledon.
While his size may strike fear into the heart of his opponents, Opelka also has a more cerebral side and enjoys collecting art.
Nor is he reluctant to speak his mind. Deeply critical of the tough Covid rules that have forced tennis players into restrictive bubbles, he tells The Mail on Sunday today it’s more about projecting the right image than stopping the virus.
‘The drivers who drive us, they get to go home every day. The hotel staff go home every day. Some weeks, we’ve had other people staying in the hotel, people coming in from who knows where, and yet we can’t leave. We have to live in these conditions which are unbearable.’