Swiss tennis star Stanislas Wawrinka is set to return home to a hero’s welcome after Sunday’s four-sets victory over Rafael Nadal in the final of the Australian Open.
The 28-year-old’s first Grand Slam victory has left the Swiss press in rapture, with papers in his native French-speaking part of Switzerland leading the praise. Le Matin wrote that Wawrinka was now “one of the giants”.
Daily 20-Minutes was one of a number of media to follow events in Wawrinka’s home village of Saint-Barthélemy in the canton of Vaud, which locals have jokingly renamed Stan-Barthélemy in honour of the athlete. The paper said Wawrinka had “achieved the impossible” in beating the world number one.
La Liberté, meanwhile, urged him to keep his feet on the ground: “Four sets… propelled him to a new dimension: one of salmon petits-fours, caviar and Dom Perignon… photos in Tennis Magazine, but also in Vanity Fair”.
The press would now be poring over his unconventional anthroposophical education and his background in little Saint-Barthélemy, it continued. It warned him not to forget where he comes from. “Stan is a hero. But he’s a hero for the little guy,” the paper said approvingly.
German-language media were also cheering on the new champion - although some of them were careful to keep things in proportion.
Tabloid ‘Blick’ wrote of “the hour of Stan,” but made clear that German-speaking Roger Federer, winner of 17 Grand Slam singles titles, was still “the king of Swiss sport”. This despite falling to number eight in the world tennis rankings, five spots behind Wawrinka.
Tages Anzeiger was more enthusiastic, saying that although Wawrika bore a Polish name, and his father was a German citizen, he “embodied Swiss virtues: diligence, humility and perseverance”.
“This is why he was recently elected Swiss person of the Year. And that’s why his success sends a strong signal at a time when it’s hard to see what our country stands for.”