The Greek Community of Melbourne honoured Greek tennis player Stefanos Tsitsipas, in a special event organised at the Greek Centre, last Saturday.
The event was attended by the Consul Generals of Greece in Melbourne and in Perth Mr Dimitris Mihalopoulos and Mr Antonis Kolliadis, the GCM President Mr Bill Papastergiadis, members of the GCM Board, dozens of GCM benefactors and representatives of Greek-Australian organisations, and many children. They all had the opportunity to meet with the Australian Open’s semi-finalist and to be photographed with him.
President Bill Papastergiadis welcomed the guests and thanked Tsitsipas who made all the Greeks proud with his achievements in the Australian Open.
“It’s been a wonderful two weeks for us. We didn’t expect the journey to be as it was, but I’m sure Stefanos did. Because he’s a man on a mission. He takes defeat badly because he aspires to win and to be number one in the world. He’s had invitations from around the world to join other nations, but he’s stood steadfast for the Greek country, the Greek government and the Greek society that he loves. We feel privileged to have him beside us. He is one of us.”
Tsitsipas spoke about the love and the support he had from his family, the Greek-Australians and the general Australian community during the games:
“I don’t know where they find the energy! It’s crazy! It’s like football stadium energy transferred onto a tennis court. I had a sensation of euphoria and other great feelings inside the field with the support of all the people that came to see me, both Greeks and others, mainly Australians. It was unbelievable, I don’t think I’ve ever had such massive support in my life”, he said.
When Papastergiadis asked him, what advise does he give to young people who are thinking to follow his steps, he replied:
“First of all, I’d like to give them a small warning. It won’t be easy. There will be a lot of challenges along the way. They need to know this before they get in. But they shouldn’t give up on their dreams, I’m sure they each have their own aspirations to make something of themselves in this sport. So, I imagine one good piece of advice would be to keep the faith. Keep training hard of course because some may think that it’ll just fall in their lap but that’s definitely not the case. I had to learn that the hard way. And to stay devoted to the sport.”
The Consul General of Greece in Melbourne, Dimitris Mihalopoulos, said that Tsitsipas united all Greeks.
“I would like to thank Stefanos, because it was, thanks to his efforts, that all Greeks were able to unite… On the same days when you were winning games inside the Melbourne tennis courts, there were significant decisions being made back in Greece. But everyone had you on their mind. Everyone had their eyes on Melbourne and were waiting to hear the good news from Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari. And both you and Maria showed what our nation is truly capable of.”
His father, Apostolos Tsitsipas, expressed his pride for the achievements of Stefanos and thanked his family members and the Greek community for their support:
“I’d like to thank the Greek community of Melbourne and the people that invited us here and embraced us from the very beginning. Your contribution is enormous because it is very important for an athlete to have positive energy and the support of the crowd. I hope all Greeks have something to gain from my son’s success, whether they’re in Greece, Australia, or anywhere else in the world.”
Then they all had the opportunity to take photo with Tsitsipas and have his autograph.