Last Updated on June 6, 2023
Alexander “Sascha” Zverev, born on April 20, 1997, is a renowned professional tennis player from Germany. He’s made a significant mark in the world of tennis, reaching as high as world No. 2 in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rankings. This illustrious career, boasting victories at major tournaments like the 2018 and 2021 ATP Finals and a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, did not happen in a vacuum. It’s a journey deeply connected to his parents, Alexander Zverev Sr. and Irina Zvereva, who were both exceptional tennis players in their own right.
Growing up, Zverev was nurtured in a family that understood and lived tennis. His parents, originating from the Soviet Union, were both tennis champions. Their love for the sport and their shared experiences undoubtedly played a major role in shaping Zverev’s future. This article takes a deep dive into the lives of Zverev’s parents, exploring their impact on their son’s remarkable tennis journey.
Alexander Zverev Parents
Alexander Zverev Sr., a former top-tier tennis player and European champion, couldn’t fully reach his potential on the international stage due to the political climate of the Soviet Union. As he recollects, “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.”
He met his future wife, Irina, also a gifted tennis player, in Moscow. Irina had to abandon her career when their first son, Mikhail, was born. Given the restrictions of the era, only one family member could participate in international tournaments. Their fortunes changed in 1991 when they relocated to Germany, making the most of their tennis skills.
“The fact that we went abroad as a family made the assimilation process much easier… 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,” shares Zverev Sr. Despite the challenges, such as learning a new language and adapting to a different system, they gradually acclimated to their new environment.
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Zverev Sr. worked as a coach until 1995, even drawing retired players to trainings. The family later moved to Hamburg, where Irina started playing in the regional league and Alexander coached the youth team. Their second son, born in 1997, also took up the sport.
While the Zverev brothers consider themselves more European, having spent their whole lives in Germany, their parents still identify as Russians. “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,” asserts Zverev Sr.
Why is Alexander Zverev Called Sascha?
“Sascha” is a common Russian and German nickname for “Alexander.” Alexander Zverev, being of Russian descent but raised in Germany, likely inherited this nickname from his family or community. This is similar to the way “Alex” is often used as a nickname for “Alexander” in English-speaking countries. It’s a way to distinguish him, especially given that his father also shares the same name.
Are Zverev’s parents Russian?
Yes, Alexander “Sascha” Zverev was born to Russian parents, Irina Zvereva and Alexander Mikhailovich Zverev, in Hamburg, Germany. Both of Sascha’s parents were professional tennis players for the Soviet Union. They moved from Sochi to the capital to train at the CSKA Moscow military-run tennis club. Later, with the collapse of the Soviet Union imminent, they went to Germany to compete at a tournament in 1990, where they were offered jobs as tennis instructors. They ended up settling in Germany, where Alexander Zverev was later born and raised.