Jan Kodeš: “Tennis has been good to me”
Written by: Monika Mudranincová
Photo: Martin Šára
What is this former Wimbledon winner doing today? Almost no one would know that Jan Kodeš (58), after years at the height of sports and business experience, decided to be a consultant living on an annuity.
FROM 1970 TO 1974 he was ranked in the top ten in the world, in 1973 he won Wimbledon, he twice reached the US Open finals (1971, 1973), he won the French Open twice (1970, 1971), and for seventeen years he played in the Davis Cup for Czechoslovakia. In 1990 he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “Tennis has been very good to me,” say Kodeš. “It was terribly hard work, but thanks to tennis I travelled around the world, and I got some idea of how things work in other places,” he recalls. After retiring from active play in 1982, he served on the Executive Committee of the Czech Tennis Union and was its president from 1994-98. He coordinated the construction of the tennis complex on Štvanice and organized 12 annual editions of the ATP Tour Czech Open. “But some people began accusing me of preferring Prague to regional venues, and I wasn’t reelected. I haven’t existed in Czech tennis since 1998,” he laments, but claims he isn’t resentful. He stays in active contact with world tennis. He plays in old-timers’ tournaments and gets invited to Wimble-don, where he meets up with his former rivals like Newcombe, Metreveli, Smith, and Borg.
How is this former champion making a living now? He was an executive for a firm that sold Hugo Boss products, but he sold his share in the franchise last year. His financial situation is comfortable. Throughout his career in tennis he earned USD 600,000, and besides that his family got a building in Karlín back through restitution. “I don’t have to scramble for money any more,” he says happily, but adds that he still has lots of work with respect to operating the Karlín building and maintaining his Dejvice villa, where he lives with his girlfriend Martina, their daughter Anna (8), and Jan, his son from his first marriage (32). Father and son also work together providing consulting services, and Kodeš Junior runs a tennis school in Vestec, near Prague. Additionally, Kodeš Senior is helping his daughter Tereza (28) set up her own apartment. “My kids and taking care of my property keep me busy all the time,” he says with a smile.