6 little known facts about Dustin Brown, the man who sent Rafael Nadal packing from Wimbledon
While Rafa fans recover from their favourite Spaniard’s shock exit from Wimbledon 2015’s second round, the rest of the tennis world is probably wondering, ‘who the hell is Dustin Brown?’
His eye-catching dreadlocks, flashy pendants, a 6’5” frame filled with peculiar tattoos, and flamboyant style of play are probably the only things you’ve noticed so far.
But there’s more to this 30-year-old than what meets the eye. Here are 6 little known facts about this journeyman from Germany.
1. Humble background
Brown’s parents made ends meet, but they were hardly equipped to take care of the expenses that accompany world-class training for a professional tennis player. They moved to Jamaica when their son was 11, after taking into consideration the high cost of training and playing tennis in Germany. Playing in Jamaica, although cheaper, meant that Brown had to put up with poor training facilities and participate in the lowest levels of tennis tournaments, which were the only ones he could afford.
2. A journeyman, quite literally!
Looking at Dustin’s financial and professional struggles in Jamaica, his mother decided it was time to move on. The family moved back to Germany in 2004 and Brown’s parents bought him a Volkswagen Campervan, so that he could travel across Europe to play in different tournaments without spending money on accommodation. The van had an attached bathroom and three beds, which Dustin often used to rent out to other needy players in order to make money. In addition to that he owned a racquet stringing machine, which he used to fix racquets of other players at low costs and made ends meet.
3. The Jamaican connection
Born to a Jamaican father and a German mother, Brown was born in Celle, a tiny little town north of Hanover. However, the family’s decision to abandon their comfortable lifestyle in Germany and move to low-cost Jamaica didn’t help Brown’s career. A country that loves track and field, cricket and soccer couldn’t offer Dustin the facilities and finances he needed to become a pro.
Brown still has bitter memories about his experience with the Jamaican Tennis Federation. When a congratulatory message arrived from the federation’s president in 2010, years after he had moved back to Germany, Brown called it ‘a kick in the face,’ during an interview with the New York Times.
4. Perfect record against Nadal
Brown is one of the few players holding a perfect undefeated record against Rafael Nadal. He defeated the Spaniard at the 2014 Gerry Weber Open, also a grass surface, in Germany, before going on to record a shock win at Wimbledon this year.
5. Love for grass
Strictly in tennis terms, of course. Aside from his twin wins against Nadal, the majority of Brown’s career best performances have come on grass courts. His previous best Grand Slam singles performance was incidentally also at Wimbledon two seasons ago, when he made it to the third round.
6. Interest in other sports
Aside from Tennis, Brown participated in various other sports such as soccer, judo and handball. In fact, at the age of 8, he finally chose to focus on tennis rather than soccer.
“When I made the decision to pursue tennis instead of soccer, of course I wanted to be successful. I didn’t want just to end up playing for a club somewhere,” he told the Guardian in a 2014 interview.
It’s been a path of struggle for this resilient German tennis player, who couldn’t even afford a full-time professional coach until last month.
Tennis can be a cruel sport even for the greatest of fighters. For all you know, Brown could be knocked out in the next round itself, just like in 2013.
But let’s hope that his win over Rafa earns him some well-deserved attention in the media, which would hopefully improve his financial prospects.
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