Mikael Ymer: 'It Doesn't Matter Where You Come From'
Mikael Ymer’s on-court abilities are undeniable. But what sets him apart is the fact that he’s most focussed on the example he sets for kids.
“I’m playing for myself, I’m playing for my family, I’m playing for my country, but I also think I’m playing for the next generation,” Ymer told ATP Uncovered presented by Peugeot. “That’s something I think about a lot. Not only the next generation of tennis [players]. I’d be very happy if I can also affect normal kids in Sweden to fight or have a dream and go for it, to believe that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what your background is or your economics. It’s that you can take a risk and go for it.”
Both of Ymer’s parents emigrated to Sweden from Ethiopia. His father, Wondwosen, works at a dairy company and his mother, Kelem, is a doctor. The entire Ymer family now lives in Stockholm, and something they share is a hard-working mentality.
“I think you have a mentality [as a tennis player] a little bit [where you are] thinking about yourself, but one of the most important things for me is to be remembered as a good guy,” Ymer said. “That’s very important for me, to have been nice to everyone.”
The 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals competitor has already shown signs that he is a future star, winning four ATP Challenger Tour titles last year. Ymer is improving quickly, too.
Last November in Milan, eventual champion Jannik Sinner beat Ymer 4-0, 4-2, 4-1. This February in Montpellier they played again on an indoor hard court, with Ymer emerging victorious 6-3, 6-4. The Swede also lost against Frances Tiafoe at the Next Gen ATP Finals, getting his revenge this January in Auckland.
The 21-year-old is humble when it comes to his success, taking after former World No. 1 Stefan Edberg, one of his idols.
“The way he carries himself and how humble he is after being one of the biggest legends is inspiring for me,” Ymer said last year. “He treats everyone the same, and he's always been so nice not only to me, but to my family.”
Ymer has an older brother, 24-year-old Elias Ymer, who has climbed as high as No. 105 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Mikael is currently World No. 68, one spot off his career-high standing. He hopes to earn big results on the ATP Tour, but he’ll always have the example he is setting in the back of his mind.
“I’m only 21, so I think it would be a little bit surprising if I knew everything today. These are the things I’m working on when I’m not on court and trying to figure out exactly what kind of role model [I want to be],” Ymer said. “There are of course some basic things that I live by, but hopefully I can leave tennis being more than just a guy who came and hit yellow balls. Exactly how, I’m not sure yet, it will take some time of course to figure out. But the main thing I would say is being a man of the people.”