During the middle of the 2000’s, his name was one of the most popular within the world of tennis.
Mark Philippoussis was an athlete who performed admirably, making it all the way to two Wimbledon finals and having two Davis Cups under his belt.
However, as Philippoussis himself looks back on his career, it’s obvious that it wasn’t an easy path to follow and in fact there were times when he stumbled off it.
Having multiple love affairs with several celebrities such as fellow tennis star Anna Kournikova, singer Delta Goodrem and Paris Hilton, he admits that he was living a life that “a man could only dream about”.
However, ultimately that fancy lifestyle just led him astray and made him forget about his one true passion, which was tennis itself:
“Something I’ve realised now is that you work incredibly hard to try and fulfil your dreams of becoming a professional tennis player, and then you do and, unfortunately, it’s very easy to forget about the reasons you started playing in the first place. You get caught up in all the politics,” Philippoussis remembers, going on to offer some sound words of advice for all aspiring athletes.
“It’s important to remember why you fell in love with the sport, which for me was just the pure thing of getting on the court and playing.”
This feeling is still alive within Philippoussis even today, as he plays tennis at exhibition events:
“These events have absolutely got me back in love with tennis. You don’t have the added pressure, you’re going out and enjoying yourself.
“You’re still competing but it’s also about entertaining the crowd, about seeing the players again, having fun in the locker room, enjoying each other’s company.
“We’ve become better friends now because when you’re finished you drop that shield.”
Philippoussis’ career may seem to have been full of glamour and glee, but there were also times when he felt he was the unluckiest man alive.
During the three years between 1999 and 2001, he was forced to undergo not one, but three surgeries in order to deal with the injuries that he was facing so that he could cope with his increasingly demanding schedule.
In fact, his first injury occurred on the court during the quarter-final of the 1999 Wimbledon against Pete Sampras, with Philippoussis having won the first set but being ruled out in the second.
“Bad luck, you were kicking my ass,” said Sampras to Philippoussis as he was being escorted off the court. Eventually, the pain became too much to bear and even though he tried several times to return to action, he took the decision to retire in 2006:
“You wake up and it hurts and it’s a grind. You go to the bathroom and it’s aching and it’s sore. How can you get into the mindset of preparing for a match when it feels like someone beat you up while you were asleep,” he describes.
In his short, yet highly successful career, Philippoussis has one huge regret. That one game that he wishes he could turn the clock around and he could go back to.
And it’s none other than the Wimbledon final of 2003 against Roger Federer. The Swiss superstar was only 21 years old at the time and so it was normal for Philippoussis to be the absolute favourite in their match-up.
“To be quite honest with you, I expected to win that match,” he says. “But the first set tie-break was everything.”
Today Philippoussis has removed himself from the much livelier days of his youth and has opted instead for a more quiet family lifestyle with his wife, Silvana Lovin and their two children, Nicholas and Maia.
They currently live in California but have plans to relocate to Melbourne some time next year, while Philippoussis himself is looking into the potential of going into coaching:
“I have no plans to go full-time on tour, but I am open to some events during the year,” he states. Considering the course of his career and all that he’s been through, any young athlete would have a lot to learn from Mark Philippoussis.