While the story of a man having to sell underwear to help raise his family even after his retirement sounds sad, Patrick Rafter may disagree.
Eight years after he retired from the tour in 2002, the thirty-seven-year old former Australian tennis star now lives the life of a family man in Queensland, his daily routine including sending his two children off to and picking them up from school. In between he runs a few errands and gets some exercise, which includes golf, surfing and rugby.
How about tennis which has brought him all the fame and fortune? These days Rafter only plays regularly when he is preparing for the senior tour. The shoulder that forced him into retirement precludes him from working on his serve. But he hasn't been doing badly in the senior tour, defeating John McEnroe 7-6 7-6 in a final recently to win an ATP Champions Tour event in Florida.
Rafter has achieved a lot in tennis, being the first Australian to win back to back US titles since Neale Fraser in 1959-60, was briefly world number and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. But as writer Greg Hernandez said, "even more than his accomplishments, it was what else Rafter brought to the game: sportsmanship, good humor, a beautiful serve and volley game, and as much sex appeal as has ever has graced a tennis court."
That was a fair comment. During his illustrious career, Rafter won several awards on sportsmanship. In 1997, he received the Diploma of Honour by the International Committee of Fair Play, for gesture of fair play that may have cost him victory. During a match in Adelaide in January that year, he reversed a line call in the second set tie-break to virtually hand the match to his opponent. He also won the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award in 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001. In February 1999, Rafter donated his Australian Open earnings and founded the Patrick Rafter Cherish the Children Foundation to give assistance to children in need. In 2000, he won the "Billy Brown Community Award" in recognition of his sporting achievements and service to the community. In 2002, he was named Australian of the Year.
Rafter's sex appeal still serves him well. He endorses Australian underwear maker Bonds. “Now I’m known as the underwear guy,” he said. “I do pictures and TV commercials, which I absolutely detest.”
Most probably his fans don't.