Could a survivor’s great-grandson be one to watch at Wimbledon?

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Could a survivor’s great-grandson be one to watch at Wimbledon?

Diego Schwartzman is the first Jewish hopeful in a while and Ben Stiller is his biggest fan

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

Diego Schwartzman, the Jewish tennis hope with his girlfriend and his fan Ben Stiller
Diego Schwartzman, the Jewish tennis hope with his girlfriend and his fan Ben Stiller


There has not really been a Jewish tennis player to root for at Wimbledon since Dick Savitt won in 1951. But tomorrow (Thursday) all our eyes should be on Diego Schwartzman when he goes up against Britain’s Liam Broady in the second round of the tournament .

Born in Buenos Aires, Schwartzman, 29, is seeded 15 and played against defending champion Novak Djokovic in the French Open in May. But his career as a promising player in the gentrified world of tennis has been tarnished by episodes of antisemitism, including  being catcalled at the American Open for “not belonging there” as a Jewish person.

For Schwartzman, the great-grandson of a Polish Jew who escaped  a cattle car en route to a concentration camp after the coupling broke apart, the country his ancestor fled has always cast a shadow with its history of fascism and welcome mat for former Nazis.  Buenos Aires does have the largest Jewish population in all of Latin America, and the tennis player has spoken about all his friendships originating in the community. “Everyone, is from the community of Jewish people. I mean, a lot of my friends and a lot of people that I know since I’m really young.”

Diego was told “you are not welcome here,” at the US Open

Schwartzman learnt to play tennis at Club Náutico Hacoaj, a Jewish sports club in Buenos Aires that was established by and for Jews who were not allowed to join other sports clubs in the city in the early 20th century. But it was when the player, named after soccer great Diego Maradona, started competing in junior tournaments outside the club that he faced antisemitism. As he told The Forward: “My father or my mom would fight people outside the club because someone said something. But yeah, it’s always around. It’s sad when it’s happening,”

Surprisingly it was while practising during the U.S. Open in New York, that he got one of the most direct anti-Jewish rebukes when someone in the crowd said something about Jewish people not being allowed there. “I just stopped warming up and asked if these people can go out, because it’s scary,” Schwartzman recalls.

The Argentine Jewish player dining out with actor Ben Stiller

But there was a positive to the US Open as that was where he met actor Ben Stiller in 2019, n 2019, after losing to Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals.“We took a picture. I put it on my Instagram at that time,” Schwartzman told the ATP Tour website at the time. “After that we had a very good relationship on WhatsApp.”

And the tennis Jewish bromance has continued with Stiller turning up to support Schwartzman in all weathers, including when Hurricane Ida hit last year. Posting his support on Twitter, Stiller and his wife Christine Taylor also go out with the player and his Argentine model girlfriend Eugenia De Martino and share their socialising on Instagram.

Schwartzman was scheduled to play Borna Couric yesterday, but the Croation withdrew from Wimbledon last Saturday with injuries. If the Argentine Jewish hopeful wins tomorrow, Keeping the Faith star Stiller might arrive  to support his new pal in the next round. Stiller is in pre-production on his next film as director which is based on the Jo Nesbo story, ‘London’.

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