- Grand slam champion Kevin Krawietz long planned to gain insight into normal life.
- Without tennis during the coronavirus crisis, the 28-year-old works in a grocery store and sometimes it gets “tough,” he says.
One after another, Kevin Krawietz sorts products on the shelves. Wearing gloves and a mask, he puts potatoes, asparagus and blueberries in their place.
Just after opening at 7am, the discount supermarket where he is working has already drawn a steady stream of customers.
There is nothing unusual about the situation, other than the shelf stacker being a French Open champion. But nothing is usual at the moment.
Krawietz would otherwise have been preparing to defend the men's doubles title at Roland Garros in Paris. Instead, with tennis suspended due to the coronavirus crisis, the grand slam winner is taking the chance to change his perspective - on the basis of 450 euros (490 dollars) a month.
"At the start it was rather thought of as a joke," Krawietz told DPA. But the need was there. A friend directed him and tennis buddy Hannes Wagner to a store in Brunnthal, Bavaria.
"We just wanted to see if it's exhausting, if it's a challenge, to get up early and tidy shelves, to do quite mindless work."
It's not about money for the 28 year-old, who banked almost a million euros in prize money from a glorious 2019.
Krawietz started off at 5:30am, having needed half an hour for his commute. He enjoys collecting new experiences far removed from the ATP Tour. Tennis is hardly a topic in the supermarket.
In Paris last year, Krawietz and partner Andreas Mies were the first Germans to win a men's doubles title at a grand slam since 1937. "Really a sensation," was the opinion of more than just tennis legend Boris Becker.
A year after winning the men's doubles title at Roland Garros, German tennis player Kevin Krawietz (left) is helping out during the coronavirus pandemic by stacking shelves in his local supermarket.
Krawietz took time to learn but can now help lay out the supermarket and knows to arrange products by expiry date.
"We have great respect for the workers. They all do their jobs well, no one is in a bad mood. That surprised us," he said.
But it is not always fun. "Of course there are moments when I say I can't be bothered any more," moments where he thinks "now it is tough," while watching the clock.
"Pull yourself together," is his internal response.
For example, as he once spent five hours disinfecting shopping trolleys and guarding the entrance, Krawietz patiently explained to every customer they had to take a trolley - otherwise he would lose count over the 40-customer limit being observed.
"A couple of people didn't accept it and simply went inside. I had to run after them," he said.
The experience has reminded him to value more "how cool" it is to be a professional player. He would like to take part in a new behind closed doors tournament series from the German tennis federation from June 8 - his last supermarket shift, for now, has already been worked.