Kevin Curren remains loyal to SA

Kevin Curren (Gallo Images)
Kevin Curren (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Kevin Curren remains "proudly South African" despite confirming he ticked the USA box when entering the 1985 Wimbledon tournament where he went on to reach the final.

There was mass confusion this past weekend when it was widely reported - both in the media and in live commentary from the tournament - that Kevin Anderson was the first South African since 1921 (Brian Norton) - 97 years ago - to have reached the men's singles final at Wimbledon.

Having reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 1983 and the Australian Open final in 1984, Curren then acquired United States citizenship two months prior to the start of the 1985 Wimbledon tournament.

Curren explained in an email to Sport24 on Monday that he only went the USA citizenship route - much like Johan Kriek - to "avoid being banished from playing around the world".

The 1980s saw the height of the anti-apartheid movement which was campaigning to ban all SA sportsmen and women from competing around the world. SA teams and individual players were subjected to abuse in various forms both on and off the field of play as a result. 

The US citizenship helped Curren - and Kriek - escape such abuse before it impacted their ability to earn a living.

"I was at the height of my career and thus the decision to take out US citizenship was very much a business decision," Curren mentioned. 

Curren went on to confirm that he filled in his 1985 Wimbledon entry form as USA - as players were "only allowed to fill in one country".

That is the reason Google searches will show the Stars and Stripes flag alongside Curren's name at the 1985 Wimbledon tournament and alongside Kriek's name at the 1982 Australian Open (which he won).

Curren would go on to lose that 1985 Wimbledon final in a memorable clash against German teenager, Boris Becker.

However, Curren went to great lengths to confirm his loyalty to South Africa.

"I am and have always been a South African citizen. I never relinquished my South African passport nor citizenship and have been a devoted South African throughout my life," Curren said.

"The only reason I played as an American in 1985 was because of the anti-apartheid movement which was campaigning strongly to ban all SA sportsmen from competing around the world. This was at its height in the 1980s when all sports teams were already banned.

"Johan Kriek and myself elected to take USA citizenship to avoid the controversy and being denied access to play in major tennis markets around the world. This after I encountered some very unsavoury incidents, participating as a South African."

Curren added he has resided in South Africa since retiring from the professional tennis circuit in 1993 and is "proud citizen of both South Africa and the USA to this day."

"I have been very involved in SA Tennis and served as SA Davis Cup captain. Virtually everyone, including friends and family have been rather upset about the reference to myself as an American finalist by particular commentators and segments of the media."

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