Wimbledon - South African golf icon Ernie Els was among the crowd during Kevin Anderson’s comfortable three-set, second round Wimbledon victory over Italy’s Andreas Seppi on Wednesday.
Anderson won 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 and will now face unheralded Belgian Ruben Bemelmans in the third round on Friday.
The two South African sports stars first met in Las Vegas when Anderson and his wife, Kelsey, were invited to Els' final annual gala autism charity event a few years ago.
Anderson spoke of his "amazement" at the "generosity and commitment" of Els to autism research.
“He has a dedicated centre in Florida and does a ton of work related to autism,” Anderson said.
Anderson and Els live only 30 minutes from one another in the West Palm Beach area of Florida.
“There is a big connection between us as sportsmen. He (Els) loves playing tennis and played regularly while growing up in South Africa,” Anderson added.
The obvious question is, did Els give Anderson any golf lessons.
“There were never any lessons from Ernie as such, but I did shoot my best score of 83 (beating my previous best round by 10 strokes) off a 15 handicap when playing with him against some of his mates.”
None other than Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel!
“Ernie plays with Louis and Charl often and they weren’t very happy to lose to us and as you can imagine Ernie was chuffed with my form!”
During Anderson’s match, Els, who is a no stranger to Wimbledon, was often seen pumping his fist in delight after big points.
Anderson was appreciative of having Els courtside.
“I would look over and see Ernie sitting there and I thought it was very cool and great that he watched the whole match.”
Also in the crowd were a group of SA Schools junior tennis players who were also passionately behind Anderson during his match.
“I hope to be a source of inspiration to these kids as I know what it is like to be in this position from my time as a youngster.”
“Seeing the likes of Wayne Ferreira doing well during his amazing career.”
“It is my hope that they can see that I was in the same position as them. With a lot of hard work and self-belief you can achieve your dreams.”
“I was always try to interact with them in the hope that they leave the event with a very positive feeling.”