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Rediff.com  » Sports » Marat Safin joins the political bandwagon

Marat Safin joins the political bandwagon

Last updated on: November 9, 2011 09:20 IST

Marat Safin joins the political bandwagon

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As Russian tennis star Marat Safin seeks election to the Federal Parliament in Russia, Bikash Mohapatra sees a recent trend in tennis stars taking the plunge into politics.

 

'I am running for Federal Parliament in Russia,' announced Russian tennis star Marat Safin last week, while making his Champions Tour debut in Chengdu, China.

 

It was an announcement that confirmed a fast-becoming trend. Sportspersons turning to politics after retirement isn't a new phenomenon. However, when it comes to tennis, such examples are few and far between.

 

Safin, who retired from competitive tennis in 2009, is the third tennis star to seek an alternate career in politics in the last 18 months.

 

The former world No 1 is up for election to the State Duma next month and could join another Olympic gold medallist, Svetlana Khorkina, in taking one of the 450 seats in the lower house of parliament. The 31-year-old has already participated in the primaries in the Nyzhny Novgorod region.

 

'It's a new challenge and I am very committed to it,' Safin was quoted as saying. 'I think I am an intelligent guy and I have a lot to bring and a lot of ideas about things and what to do.'

 

The Russian has already received support in his new endeavour from an illustrious colleague.

 

'Marat is very intelligent, articulate and well-spoken, so I think it's great that he's getting involved in government in his homeland. I think he'll do a great job -- he's good with people and people like him, and that's half the battle with being a politician," said Pete Sampras, after beating the Russian in three sets at Chengdu.

 

Even as Safin prepares to take the plunge come December, rediff.com takes a look at a few other tennis stars who entered the political arena.


Image: Marat Safin
Photographs: Getty Images
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Chakvetadze joined the Right Cause Party

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Anna Chakvetadze, Safin's compatriot, beat the latter in the race to politics.

 

Chakvetadze, a former world No 5, with eight WTA titles to her credit, is running for the Russian lower house of parliament under the pro-business Right Cause Party.

 

'I joined the Right Cause Party because it's a young party. I believe I also can bring some fresh ideas into this project,' Chakvetadze was quoted as saying about her decision.

 

'I'd like to be involved in deciding the questions concerning the sports sphere in case we manage to enter the State Duma. I am especially interested in children's sports. I believe the state should support the children's sports activity, making it completely free of charge.'

 

Chakvetadze hasn't played much this season due an illness that causes dizziness and an ankle injury; she is currently ranked 162th in the WTA Tour rankings. Like Safin, she too has received support from an illustrious colleague.

 

'If she feels strong about it, obviously it's a personal choice,' said multiple major winner Maria Sharapova about her compatriot's decision.


Image: Anna Chakvetadze
Photographs: Getty Images
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'No one has persuaded me to enter politics'

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Paradorn Srichaphan is also a new entrant in the political arena.

 

The Thai joined the Chart Pattana Puea Pandin Party last year, saying he aims to elevate the promotion of sports to become a national agenda.

 

'No one has persuaded me to enter politics. It's my own intention to do so as there are still problems in the country's sports development. I want to use my knowledge to help develop Thai sports,' he was quoted as saying about his decision.

 

Paradorn, who won five ATP titles and was ranked as high as No 9, had earlier expressed his desire to be an MP to be able to do good things for the country and push sports as a national agenda prority.


Image: Paradorn Srichaphan
Photographs: Getty Images
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Nastase contested, and lost

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Ilie Nastase was a hugely successful tennis player.

 

However, when the former world No 1 and winner of 57 ATP titles, made a foray into politics, he faced a reverse.

 

The Romanian made an unsuccessful run for mayor of Bucharest in 1996.

 

Then aged 50, Nastase ran as a candidate of the Party of Social Democracy, the governing party of then President Ion Iliescu, and gained considerable international attention. But he was defeated.

 

'Probably a very good thing for him and Bucharest,' Ion Tiriac, Nastase's former doubles partner was quoted as saying about the result.


Image: Ilie Nastase
Photographs: Getty Images
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This Australian made an impact

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John Alexander made a successful transition from tennis to politics.

 

A winner of seven singles and 27 doubles titles in a career spanning two decades, the Sydney-born ace made an impact in the political arena as well.

 

Alexander won the election from Bennelong, a seat which was held for 33 years by former prime minister John Howard, in the 2010 federal election and has since impressed in his new role as a Member of Parliament.


Photographs: Getty Images
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Legendre had a smooth transition

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Richard Legendre represents another smooth transition from the tennis court to the political arena.

 

The Canadian represented his country in Davis Cup, and in December 1978 reached a career-high singles ranking of 232.

 

Long after he quit the sport, Legendre was a candidate in the Parti Quebecois's leadership election. His bid was supported by former Quebec minister Francois Legault and sprinter and olympic medalist Bruny Surin.

 

However, he could only finish third. Two years later, he was defeated by Pierre Gingras, the former mayor of Blainville. 



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