I have to say, for all the crap promotional stuff the ATP/WTA makes the players do, I'm really impressed that they chose to have someone visit the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that professional tennis players aren't the most highly educated bunch (not that they're not smart or intelligent) and if left to their own devices, probably wouldn't take time out of their busy schedules to get a history lesson. So promo visits like this one are nice to see.
The Smiling Cypriot was clearly moved by what he saw:
“It’s weird knowing that they separated people for everything,” he said. “They had different toilets, black people had toilets, white people had other toilets, but it was not only that, it was everything - beaches, houses, taxi queues, entrances, bus stops. Mainly the black people suffered a lot and that’s sad to hear.”
Moving through the museum, Baghdatis was clearly moved by the overwhelming experience. “It’s sad to hear that people suffered, and I also watched some videos which showed how they were treated and it wasn’t really nice, it hurt a lot to see that and all I can really say is for them to forgive - forgive them for what happened and move on, to have peace, love and everybody together. It’s like Mandela says 'One Nation One Country'‘, in the end we are all the same,” said the Cypriot.
The SA Tennis Open No.8 seed was taken through a visual and physical explanation of the life of Nelson Mandala, one of the most influential and inspirational men in history. Mandela was incarcerated in 1964 for alleged crimes of sabotage against the country, a crime he never committed but saw him remain in prison until 1990. Four years later, Mandela was voted in as the first democratically elected president of the Republic of South Africa.
“I can understand now why he is a hero to so many people. The guy is an amazing person and whatever he wanted to and whatever he wanted to help those people he did it even if it meant death for him. He spent 30 years of his life in prison and he suffered a lot to maintain what he maintains today, and I have a lot of respect for him. I can understand now why people see him as a hero,” Baghdatis remarked.
“It was great, you know, it’s something that we don’t get to do so often and you know it was great learning about one country’s history and about how people suffered so much, it’s a bit shocking when you’re in there and watching that, but it’s also nice to see because it is a small wakeup call and it does wake you up, you see life a bit differently and people a bit differently and it’s a great experience,” concluded Baghdatis.