What Has Most Fascinated Kevin Anderson About Becoming A Father
The past 15 months have not been easy on court for two-time Grand Slam finalist and former World No. 5 Kevin Anderson, who has been limited to eight tournaments during that stretch due to injuries. But off court, it has been a special time for the South African star.
On 27 September 2019, his wife Kelsey Anderson gave birth to their first child, Keira.
“Obviously it’s been a little bit different… last year I was injured and didn’t play the rest of the year and then this season I only played a few events, and then I had surgery and then everything was shut down with the virus,” Anderson told ATPTour.com. “I haven’t really experienced full life as a dad and competing like I usually have. On the plus side, it has been nice spending time at home [in Florida] and just having more of a family life and being able to spend more time with her and my wife at home.”
Anderson has greatly enjoyed being a father, and he has taken pleasure in being able to watch Keira grow in the nearly six months since her birth.
“I think what I’m most fascinated by is just watching her, even though it’s so small, little leaps or learning curves, just watching her learn things. I think that’s been nice, where I’ve been able to spend quite a bit of time with her for basic things,” Anderson said. “There’s still so much to come, but even just listening to the baby talk and her grasping for things, being able to move around a little bit [has been great]. She hasn’t started sitting yet, but just being able to move around, recognising her smiling at you, just stuff like that. I feel like her just growing and learning has been the most amazing part of it for me.”
Anderson hasn’t had much time travelling with his daughter because of his injuries and the ATP Tour’s suspension due to coronavirus concerns. But he did compete this year at the ATP Cup, the Australian Open and the New York Open, giving him a look into what is to come.
“Obviously the time with her has been great and gives me a different perspective on life and different responsibilities and everything that comes with that,” Anderson said. “But at the same time, there’s still a lot I want to achieve on the tennis court, which I’ve pursued my whole life. So I’d say that ambition is still there.
“But definitely in Australia, when I had that first sort of [experience], I feel like there’s a bit more of a separation between what you do on the tennis court, on-site, and when you get back home.”
Anderson’s wife, Kelsey, has long been visible in his corner, cheering him on during his biggest matches. That has been the same as they have become first-time parents.
“My wife’s been amazing through this whole process, [being] understanding just at home and with me still training and recovering from two surgeries while she was first pregnant, and then giving birth and then having her here, allowing me to do some of the things that I need to do,” Anderson said. “For the most part I think we’ve been really lucky, Keira’s been a very easygoing baby and well-natured for the most part. She’s had a couple things that have made things a little tougher, but all in all, so far we’ve really enjoyed this.”
Fans may notice that the first name of each member of the Anderson family — Kevin, Kelsey and Keira — begins with a ‘K’, but not for the reason you might expect.
“[Keira] is just a name that we have always liked. It was on the short list, one that I think we were leaning towards. Funnily enough when we told my mother about it, from a young age, she always knew that if she had a boy she would name the boy Kevin and the girl Keira, which we thought was interesting,” Anderson said. “It was like a sign, so that’s when we decided that was the name we were going to give her.”
When some ATP Tour players welcome a child into their family, they become more motivated to one day showcase their on-court skills when their child is old enough to understand what they do for a living.
“It’d be great if I’m still playing in four, five years’ time when hopefully Keira will be old enough to remember that time on court. Some of that is out of my control. It would be nice, but that’s something that’s many years down the road, so it’s not something I’m thinking about too much at this point,” Anderson said. “I’d say I’m probably more focussed on enjoying her each step as it comes.”
Has Keira started following in her father’s footsteps yet?
“She’s got a toy tennis racquet, but not a real racquet just yet,” Anderson said, cracking a laugh.