Alexander Zverev is firmly entrenched in the top 10 of the ATP rankings. He is reaching the finals of major tournaments and winning titles. Most recently he won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, beating Russia’s Karen Khachanov in the final.
It was not by chance that Zverev became a tennis player as his parents were tennis players too.
Alexander Zverev Parents
Alexander Zverev Sr. was the first racket of the country, the winner of Druzhba-84 and the Universiade, European champion. Zverev was distinguished by his tactically correct tennis, but he was rarely seen at international tournaments. He ranked 175th in the ATP rankings, his best position. He played only 21 matches there and did not show even part of his potential. It was all due to the political situation in the USSR. They didn’t let him go to international tournaments grudgingly.
“In the Soviet Union before the putsch, everything was about the same as in the GDR. Everything rested on propaganda, and professional sport was a controversial thing. The functionaries decided where you were going to play. Performing for the country had top priority,” says Irina Zvereva.
Zverev Sr. met his future wife in Moscow and immediately fell in love. Irina was also a talented tennis player, but she had to give up her career when her son Mikhail was born. In those years only one member of the family was allowed at international tournaments. Zvereva didn’t begin to realize her potential until 1991, when she moved to Germany.
“The fact that we went abroad as a family made the assimilation process much easier. The invitation to work in Germany as a coach came to me many times, but I refused every time. In 1991 the Soviet Union had already collapsed, the economic situation in the country was not very good, and my wife and I decided to try.
Naturally, at first we had enough domestic problems. We found ourselves not only in a new country, but in a completely different system. Besides we didn’t speak any German and our English was not very good. We started with a private teacher and learned the language quite quickly. We gradually got the hang of it… When we lived in Germany for ten years, it became clear that there was no point in going back to Russia. And then we just changed our citizenship,” recalls Zverev Sr.
Zverev worked as a coach in Melne until 1995. Even retired players began to come to training. Before that in Germany they did not take tennis very seriously. It was there that Mikhail began to play. He had no other options.
Later the family moved to Hamburg. Irina began to play in the regional league (she now works as a psychologist), and Alexander was a coach in the youth team. In 1997 they had their second son, who was also to take up a racket.
The Zverev brothers can hardly consider themselves Russians since they have spent all their life in Germany, but their parents, on the contrary. Even their extended absence from their homeland does not bother them. After all, they spent most of their lives in the USSR.
– My spouse and I can be called Russians who live abroad. Many more years will pass, but we will still be Russians. But Sasha and Misha, I think, have become Europeans.
Alexander Zverev was born April 20, 1997 in Hamburg, Germany, to Russian parents, Irina Zvereva and Alexander Mikhailovich Zverev. After some time, his parents took German citizenship.