Wawrinka draws hero's welcome in Geneva
Australian Open tennis champion Stanislas Wawrinka received a hero’s welcome at Geneva airport on Tuesday afternoon where a throng of cheering fans and journalists met him.
Around 150 fans gathered at Geneva airport on Tuesday afternoon to greet the newly-crowned winner of the Grand Slam tournament.
Shortly after fighting his way through a knot of journalists and cameramen, the world number three graciously accepted another trophy — that of Swiss personality of the year for 2013.
“I’m very happy to receive this prize, which surprised me a bit when I found out the day before the Australian Open,” Wawrinka was quoted as saying by local media as he accepted the award.
At 1.45pm the smiling star thanked the crowds as he left the airport escorted by police.
“I had a fantastic 2013 and thank you all for this warm reception,” the star from Switzerland's French-speaking region said.
Speaking to the Tribune de Genève newspaper, Danielle, a self-confessed “Stan super-fan”, said she wanted to be there to welcome him “to thank him and for the pride of being Swiss”.
“Stan grew up in the shadow of Federer," she said.
"To see him triumph now increases the pleasure.”
For Véronique, a mother of two, the tennis player sends an important message to young Swiss.
“His victory is the fruit of his perseverance. He proved his endurance, his tenacity. He brings a very good message to young people.”
Philippe Leuba, a cabinet minister for the canton of Vaud where Wawrinka lives, was also there to welcome the tennis star.
Residents from the star’s home village of Saint-Barthélémy – which was rebaptized as Stan-Bartélémy following Wawrinka’s victory on Sunday – greeted him with hand-drawn signs of congratulation.
Villagers are preparing to welcome their local hero with placards and flags.
“We were sweating during the final as if we were playing it," Roseline Favre, a resident from Saint-Barthélémy said.
"Stan’s victory is also ours.”