Serena Williams Is Not at the U.S. Open, but Her Coach Is Just about everywhere

It’s possible it’s the beard, the persistent, salt-and-pepper whiskers, normally trimmed to a ideal duration that would make Patrick Mouratoglou initially appear to be more like a French existentialist philosopher fairly than tennis mentor.

Or possibly he is a tennis venture capitalist. Or a tennis vacation resort govt. Or a tennis “guru,” as Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Greek star, has referred to him. Based on the minute, Mouratoglou can be all of those things, which can make it challenging for him to also be a coach, at minimum in the way he thinks a skilled tennis coach must mentor. That may perhaps appear odd for a person best recognised as 1, a gentleman who wrote a guide about himself identified as “The Coach,” but it is the way he always supposed it to be.

For yrs, Mouratoglou has been courtside at Serena Williams’s matches. He has coached her since 2012, and was presumed to be her boyfriend for a time. Coaching her from the stands through the 2018 U.S. Open up remaining led to one of the most notorious meltdowns of Williams’s job. She is not at the U.S. Open up this 12 months, possessing withdrawn to get better from a hamstring personal injury.

Mouratoglou, although, has been in all places, just as he is at each big tennis event these times.

There he is sitting a seat away from Tsitsipas’s father and mentor, Apostolos, all through early-round matches in opposition to Andy Murray and Carlos Alcaraz. Soon after a match, he grabs a microphone for one of any selection of television interviews he does about the point out of the modern day recreation. In some cases he camps out in the plaza of the U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Middle and signs autographs for followers who know him much better than they know most of the gamers. Previous Tuesday night time, he handed a sports activities drink on to the court of Arthur Ashe Stadium, hoping to aid decrease the cramps of Holger Rune, the 18-calendar year-old Danish participant who trains at his academy, as Rune fell in 4 sets to Novak Djokovic in the first spherical.

At age 51, Mouratoglou has turn into 1 of the most recognizable stars in tennis, even though he was under no circumstances extra than a center-rung junior player as a teenager in France. Corey Gauff, the father and mentor of the mounting American star Coco Gauff, frequently wears a baseball hat with Mouratoglou’s “M” logo above the brim when he watches his daughter play.

He is the uncommon coach who has turned himself into a brand name, which may perhaps suggest he is greater at advertising than he is at coaching. Don’t talk to Mouratoglou to boil down his approach to tennis into a easy approach or method.

“My philosophy is I know absolutely nothing,” he said in an interview times ahead of the start off of the U.S. Open. “I study the human being and I learn my participant. A large amount of coaches start off with their system. There is a single method per participant and I will need to uncover it.”

Tennis is in an odd spot at the instant. The careers of most of its major stars are in repose. Its biggest men’s player, Novak Djokovic, is worshiped in his individual place but has under no circumstances been universally embraced. Naomi Osaka is currently a tennis megastar, but she has played very little this yr and introduced Friday night time that she was heading to just take an additional split from the game.

That leaves enough space for a coaching figure like Mouratoglou to fill.

Tennis does this every single so generally, producing a coach who is a savvy marketer and businessman to turn into far extra than a teacher and coach, typically with the aid of television cameras that pivot to them as they check out their star players. Assume of the Australian Harry Hopman in the 1970s and the New Yorker/Floridian Nick Bollettieri in the 1980s and 1990s.

None while, has reached the amount of Mouratoglou.

His empire involves the Mouratoglou Academy, in the south of France, which houses 200 pupil tennis gamers, numerous of whom live and show up at school and practice there full time.

He operates camps for yet another 4,000 gamers, which include some grown ups, just about every year. Subsequent calendar year, he will offer an e-coaching merchandise.

He is also a main organizer of the Top Tennis Showdown, a created-for-tv levels of competition that has integrated quite a few major gamers and has released a speedier scoring method for matches.

There are Mouratoglou tennis centers at resorts in Costa Navarino in Greece and at Jumeirah in Dubai. He is an investor in the tennis media internet site

With only 24 hours in a working day, he recently gave up his gigs as a commentator for ESPN and Eurosport.

He is the entire-time coach of just one particular player, Williams, but assists oversee to varying levels the education and improvement of numerous other people, which includes Tsitsipas, Gauff, Rune, and Alexei Popyrin, the 22-yr-outdated Australian who achieved the third round of the U.S. Open up.

Having a portfolio as prolonged as Mouratoglou’s would look to run counter to another person whose authority flows from his stature as a coach and whose philosophy relies on investing plenty of time with just about every player to tailor his approaches and tactics to the individual. That approach, Mouratoglou said, demands a deep information of each player’s strengths and weaknesses, both mental and bodily, as properly as their cultural and family qualifications.

The most basic rationalization is that Mouratoglou is no longer actually a coach, if he at any time was 1 in the to start with spot, with his get the job done for Williams as an exception. But she may perhaps not be around for a great deal lengthier. It is not a job he ever supposed to participate in. He took it on out of requirement. His vision for his tennis empire was not likely to function in any other case.

As a kid, Mouratoglou dreamed of starting to be a top rated expert, but his parents advised him it would be much too dangerous and would not assistance the endeavor. He give up tennis at 16, pursued his education and learning, and at 20 went to get the job done for his father, a leading French industrialist and the operator of a important renewable vitality company.

When Mouratoglou was 26, his father explained to him he was prepared to turn out to be a spouse. Mouratoglou told his father he was quitting. He however experienced a passion for tennis and preferred to establish a tennis empire, starting with an academy for young gamers.

He partnered with Bob Brett, an Australian coach and a protégé of Harry Hopman. Mouratoglou understood small about coaching and felt he needed a massive identify to draw in gamers. Then in 2004 Brett stop. Mouratoglou realized if he uncovered a further well-recognised coach to be his spouse, the exact same matter could happen, so he discovered how to mentor and found some youthful prospective clients whose early professions he could aid help, like a enterprise capitalist seeding a begin-up company.

His early recruits integrated Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia. He commenced working with Williams in 2012, and has used the stature from her unmatched success to construct his empire and a new product for the extra expansive position a tennis mentor could engage in.

Mouratoglou now operates like the main government of a enterprise with a player enhancement division, with each individual participant working as a individual device or product or service. He has 50 coaches performing for him at his academy. The major professional players related with him — the kinds whose televised matches he would make absolutely sure to attend — each has an individual else who features as their coach. Most have only constrained contact with Mouratoglou on a observe court, while he supervises the group of exercise trainers the players do the job with. His academy can serve as foundation camp the place they can practice.

Mouratoglou 1st noticed Gauff, 17, when she was 10. He proven a relationship with her father, who brought Coco to the academy. He 1st spotted Tsitsipas, now 23, on YouTube when he was just 16.

“Patrick is form of like the overseer,” Coco Gauff mentioned the other day.

She mentioned Mouratoglou usually speaks to her by her father if he has any unique tips, so she does not have much too many voices in her head. “He also will help with acquiring the right people on my workforce, figuring out who and what I require to assistance me thrive,” she additional.

Equally Popyrin and Rune, who has experienced Lars Christensen as his mentor considering that he was 6, claimed the most significant role Mouratoglou has played is delivering them an perfect surroundings for teaching.

It is a mutually helpful partnership. The gamers, who get accessibility to a initial-class teaching heart with nearly every single feasible amenity, are the ideal advertising and marketing equipment to catch the attention of other aspiring gamers, who shell out for the academy’s array of providers, or for tennis fans, who show up at camps at a Mouratoglou tennis center at a vacation resort.

There is most likely no far better way for Mouratoglou to make certain everyone is familiar with about his link with these gamers than using his customary location in their packing containers during their matches. All Mouratoglou’s present players in the main draw lost all through the early rounds, though there are various players with Mouratoglou ties in the junior tournaments this 7 days.

He has one sacrosanct rule when he attends a match: If he starts with a person participant, he stays to the end, even if yet another player his firm performs with is participating in on an additional court docket. Leaving halfway could ship a lousy concept, he reported.

It’s also one more way of permitting the gamers know if they require just about anything, Mouratoglou or an individual in his increasing empire will be there. Popyrin, who has struggled this calendar year and is 73rd in the ATP rankings, reported Mouratoglou has lately been a voice of positivity hoping to remind him that he can come to be a major player, possibly like the 3rd-ranked Tsitsipas, although he included that Mouratoglou normally capabilities like a tennis Buddha, a sounding board who listens significantly a lot more than he speaks.

“I vent to him,” Popyrin claimed. “He lets you communicate your brain, and when you speak your thoughts to him, a lot of the time you get the reply your self.”

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