Tennis and football has always seemed to go hand-in-hand. Watch any tennis match you want and chances are you’ll see players unable to resist doing keepy-ups with the ball if even the slightest chance presents itself.
This week, Emma Raducanu turned up for a tournament in a Tottenham shirt to declare her football allegiances.
But which football teams do tennis’ other biggest stars support and why?
Roger Federer – FC Basel
Roger Federer is one classy individual, so kudos to him for sticking to his footballing roots all these years.
The Swiss star supported local Swiss club FC Basel in his youth and that’s not going to change now.
“The FCB was my club as a kid, and it is still today,” Federer said in 2018 when Basel celebrated their 125th anniversary. “Around 25 years ago, I was an unusual guest and passionate fan in the FCB old stadium.
“Whoever grows up in Basel is an FCB fan! I lived in Munchenstein, it was not that far away from our football pitch. When I was traveling all the time on the tennis circuit, I could not be there so much.
“I want to let you know people who wear my favorite football shirt that I am always behind them.”
Rafael Nadal – Real Madrid
Given that Rafael Nadal’s uncle, Miguel Angel Nadal, played for Barcelona with such distinction, you’d be forgiven for assuming that was Rafa’s team too.
In fact, a very young Rafael Nadal was once a mascot for Barcelona. If not Barcelona then Real Mallorca surely? That is where he is from, after all?
No, Rafael Nadal is a Real Madrid fan and he has never made a secret of it.
Nadal explains: “Despite adoring my uncle, I have always been and always will be a Real Madrid fan. Why? Simple. Because my father is.”
In fact, Nadal has expressed ambitions to become Real Madrid president once his tennis career is over, which really would be something.
“If you ask me if I would like it, of course I would, why not? But there is more to it,” he said. “I think it will not be.
“We are very good as we are. We have a great president right now, and I don’t think Real Madrid need me, but we never know what can happen in the future. It is not something I can raise today.”
Novak Djokovic – AC Milan
Novak Djokovic has always had strong links with Italy, and that has shaped his football allegiances too.
Although he has also expressed an affection for Manchester United, Djokovic is very much an AC Milan fan.
As long ago as 2011 he was tweeting his support for the club and is now close friends with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and those ties have only strengthened after his Australian deportation drama earlier this year.
Speaking in February, Djokovic said: “I am friends with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. We often talked about my situation in Australia. He also supported me publicly, which I really appreciate.”
“I’m a Milan fan and we hope to win the Scudetto this year.”
Andy Murray – Hibernian
Andy Murray has always appeared to find it hard to make his mind up about which football team he supports. He has claimed Arsenal and Barcelona before, but they have always seemed to be more like affections rather than outright support.
His team is most certainly Hibernian. His grandfather Roy Erskine played for the club in the 1950s, although he never managed to break into the first team.
Speaking about his long-standing association with Hibs, Murray said: “It does help, you get used to losing a lot at a young age!
“In terms of watching games, I went to watch Hibs play AEK Athens and they lost in extra time.
“But it ended 4-3 [on aggregate] and it was an amazing game.
“I would have been young at the time but I will always remember that because Hibs playing in Europe is really rare.”
“Our family all supported Hibs because my grandfather had played for them, and we’d all go along and watch them together.
“I’d have been six or seven at my first game but I don’t really remember it.
“My dad told me that I used to cry whenever Hibs scored because the crowd was so loud.
“I don’t cry at football anymore!”
Dominic Thiem – Chelsea
Austrian star Thiem has never made any secret of the fact he is a Chelsea fan, although he does admit he ‘lost it a bit’ during the Covid pandemic due to a lack of atmosphere.
Thiem claims that Frank Lampard was ‘one of the big reasons’ he became a Chelsea fan.
The former US Open champion loves his football so much that he has even taken his first steps into club ownership, with him setting up his own club, TFC Matzendorf, in Austria a few years ago.
They don’t play in a league as yet, but they do play semi-professionally and take part in a lot of charity games with Thiem himself in the line-up.
Nick Kyrgios – Tottenham
Kyrgios is more known for his love of Basketball than football, but Tottenham have found their way into his affections.
The Australian turned up to practice at Wimbledon wearing a Spurs shirt, and he has previously toured the club’s training ground too.
As far back as 2014, Kyrgios said: “Whenever Spurs are playing, I try to watch them, even with the time difference in Australia.
“The last match I watched was about 2am in the morning!
“It was awesome seeing the players and the training facility – I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
Alexander Zverev – Bayern Munich
The football purists here might want to look away, because Alexander Zverev is one of
those people who claim to support two teams. Not just any two teams, either, but two teams who play in the same country and play each other often.
Zverev was born in Hamburg, and you would think that would be enough for him. But…
“I have two favorite clubs,” Zverev explains. “Internationally, at the high level, it’s always been FC Bayern.
“My first shirt was of FC Bayern, Oliver Kahn’s.
“As a Hamburg native, I’m also a HSV fan. FC Bayern is the biggest club in the world and the one that I follow the most”
Carlos Alcaraz – Real Madrid
Carlos Alcaraz gets compared to Rafael Nadal every day of his life, and their football club is another thing they have in common.
Alcaraz is a big Real Madrid fan despite being born 250 miles away in Murcia.
The youngster has not really spoken of his football allegiances yet, but Real Madrid themselves outed him this year.
“Well done Carlos Alcaraz,” Madrid’s official Twitter account said after he won the Miami Masters.
“It makes us proud that a great Madridista like you has won the Masters 1000 Miami in such brilliant fashion, becoming the first Spaniard and the youngest tennis player in history to do so. Congratulations!”
Emma Raducanu – Tottenham
The most recent big name tennis player to reveal their football team was Emma Raducanu.
The US Open champion took to the practice court for Stuttgart wearing a Tottenham shirt, causing a real buzz on social media.
When quizzed on it, Raducanu explained it was linked to watching Harry Kane at Euro 2020.
“I loved following the Euros last year, watching Harry Kane the England captain, and Son [Heung-min]I’m a big fan of his as well,” she said.
“My whole team basically are big Spurs fans. I feel like they’re egging me on and desperately trying to get me behind. I don’t necessarily follow football so much but I feel now, because of them, some sort of connection. “
Iga Swiatek – Legia Warsaw
While most tennis players seem to attach themselves to a super-club, the WTA world number one has decided to remain loyal to its roots.
She played tennis for Legia Warsaw sporting club as a kid and it’s something she has not forgotten.
Although Swiatek now spends most of the football season on Tour, she can still be seen at the occasional Legia Warsaw game wearing the club colours.
Naomi Osaka – North Carolina Courage
Naomi Osaka has never really shown a lot of passion for football, but she certainly has a passion for women’s sport.
In January 2021, she announced she had invested in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) club North Carolina Courage.
“The women who have invested in me growing up made me who I am today, I don’t know where I would be without them,” Osaka said.
“Throughout my career I’ve always received so much love from my fellow female athletes, so that’s why I am proud to share that I am now an owner of the NC Courage.”
Whether or not she is strictly a ‘fan,’ of course, is another matter.
Daniil Medvedev – Bayern Munich
The purists may want to look away again here, as reigning US Open champion Daniil Medvedev has admitted he abandoned his boyhood team for the crime of not being in the Champions League.
“To be honest, I really fell in love with soccer and with Bayern when I was maybe 12 years old,” Medvedev said.
“That’s when it really started. But even before that, when I was six years old, I remember that I already liked Bayern. They were really good at that time and I remember telling my parents that Bayern is playing, we need to watch it .”
“When I was younger I supported CSKA Moscow, but they were not playing in the Champions League or when they were playing in it, they would often lose. So I needed a team in Europe that I can support and be a fan of. So I remembered that I really liked Bayern and said: That’s my team now.”
Jannik Sinner – AC Milan
Sinner is another of tennis’ brightest young talents and, being from the north of Italy, it is perhaps not a surprise to learn he is a big AC Milan fan.
He is known to have visited the training ground and met the players, and the club have ‘claimed’ him on their official website too by congratulating him on winning tournaments.
“It was an honor for me to meet the protagonists of my favorite team, a fantastic feeling,” Sinner said.
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