The decision by Jesse Levine to switch his allegiance from the United States to Canada this week is just the latest in a long line of players moving from one country to another, for a variety of reasons. We look at 10 of the best.
1. Jaroslav Drobny. He was the man who set the ball rolling, as far as defections go. In 1949, disillusioned with the German occupation during the Second World War, the then 27-year-old, who had won a silver medal in ice hockey for then Czechoslovakia the previous year, vowed never to return and was given Egyptian citizenship. He played as an Egyptian for nine years, winning Wimbledon in 1954, before changing nationality again in 1959, this time to Great Britain, and representing them in his final Championships in 1960, at the age of 38.
2. Martina Navratilova. If Drobny could do it, then so could others and Martina Navratilova took her chance when she was 18, defecting to the United States. Navratilova had been warned that she was “become too Americanised” by hanging around with Americans like Chris Evert and after losing in the semi-finals of the US Open in 1975, she decided that if she wanted to achieve her ambitions, then she could never go back. Reflecting on it this summer, she said: “People say, ‘do I have any regrets?’ I say, ‘I regret what I had to do. I don’t regret that I did it, but I regret the years that I lost, that I had to do it. And I’ll never forgive the Communists for that’.”
3. Ivan Lendl. Born and raised in the Czech Republic, Lendl fell out of love with his national federation when they threw him out of the Davis Cup team for playing a number of exhibitions in South Africa during the apartheid era. Lendl turned his love to the US, moving there in 1981 and collecting his green card in 1987. The Czechs used some red tape to stop him from playing for the US in the 1988 Olympics and Lendl has remained in the US ever since.
4. Monica Seles. Having moved from then Yugoslavia to the US at the age of 12 in 1986, it was fairly natural that Seles would end up becoming an American citizen. Having been coached by Jelena Gencic, the woman who would later teach Novak Djokovic how to play tennis, the formalities were completed in Miami in 1994, just a year after she was stabbed by a crazed fan during a tournament in Hamburg. Seles has lived there ever since.
5. Fred Perry. Ah, the sacrilege. Britain’s greatest player of the 20th Century ups sticks and leaves Britain for the cousins across the Atlantic in the United States. Still feeling something of an outsider despite winning three Wimbledon titles, Perry had already turned professional and spent more and more time in the US, eventually becoming a naturalised citizen in 1938 and even joined the US Air Force in the Second World War.
6. Mary Pierce. Born in Canada to French/American parents and raised in the United States, Pierce has always been a little confused as to what nationality fits her best. Originally, Pierce tried to play as an American but her controversial father Jim fell out with the USTA and she ended up playing for France. For the last couple of years, Pierce has spent more and more time in Mauritius and is reportedly planning to move there permanently.
7. Greg Rusedski. Some move for love, some through circumstance and others, well, others do it for the money. In fairness, his mother was born in Yorkshire, but Canadian-born and raised Rusedski made the switch in 1995, realising that the British set-up had more to offer him, in terms of support, than his home federation. Rusedski has lived in the UK ever since, represented Britain consistently in Davis Cup and now works with the LTA as captain of the junior Davis Cup team.
8. Jelena Dokic. Born in Croatia to a Serbian father (Damir) and a Croatian mother, Liliana, Dokic and family moved to Australia in 1994, having originally left Croatia in 1991 because of the civil war. Dokic made her name under the Australia flag, reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals and going on to reach world No 4. But her father forced her to change allegiance back to Serbia in 2001 and she only later returned to play as an Australian.
9. Mansour Bahrami. As one of the most talented players in Iran, Bahrami showed huge promise as a young player in the 1970s. But the Islamic revolution in 1979, and its subsequent ban on Bahrami travelling overseas, left him short of options. With help, he got a Visa to France and made his name there, reaching the final of the French Open doubles in 1989. On the seniors Tour, he has really excelled, his trick shots making him a huge fan favourite. Living in Paris, he has joint French and Iranian nationality.
10. Dustin Brown. Born in Germany but raised in Jamaica, Brown flirted with the idea of playing for Britain when it was mooted that he had a British grandmother. Disillusioned with the lack of financial support in Jamaica, he eventually decided to play for Germany.