Marcus Willis is a part-time tennis player who gets paid $60 per hour to coach at a club in the British Midlands. On Wednesday, Willis will play one of the greatest tennis players ever, and the richest one as well at Wimbledon, for a guaranteed check of $100,000. Even though online tennis betting odds are overwhelmingly in Roger Federer’s favor, Willis could pull off the upset in front of his home crowd.
Willis, who almost retired earlier this year, qualified for Wimbledon the old fashion way through a pre-qualifying tournament. Willis, who joked with reporters that he is living the dream, still lives at home with his parents and has credit card debt.
Willis is ranked 772 in the world, but he will be the story at Wimbledon because he is the biggest underdog and everyone loves an underdog story. He defeated 54th ranked Ricardas Berankis on Monday to earn the right to play 17 time Grand Slam winner Federer.
When asked if he had ever met Federer, Willis joked that he didn’t see him in the Futures tournament in Tunisia. He also joked that he wasn’t sure Federer was good on grass, and that Federer was only slightly better than him.
While Willis was in a jovial mood with reporters, he will surely be a little intimidated playing one of the legends of the game. Federer was also impressed by Willis’ journey to Wimbledon, and called it one of the best stories in tennis in a long time.
Federer said the sports needs more stories like this because he thinks it is a great story. The former Wimbledon champion also said he was looking forward to playing Willis on Wednesday.
As Willis continued fielding questions from reporters, he walked them through what a typical day was for him when he was coaching tennis. While being in the tournament will improve Willis’ finances, he said he has no plans on quitting his coaching job and will continue to do so after the tournament is over.
According to Willis, the highlight of the tournament for him was meeting his idol, former Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic, who came over to shake his hand while he was talking with reporters. Willis called the experience surreal.
Willis was a talented junior, but he was undisciplined and got sent home before participating at the junior event at the 2008 Australian Open. After that, Willis got so out of shape that a challenger at an event in the United States started calling him “Cartman,” after the obese kid in the Comedy Central cartoon “South Park.”
Willis told reporters that he only started to realize he had to put in a lot of hard work to achieve his goals in the sport three years ago, which helped him find the drive he had lacked earlier in his career.
Willis decided to stop drinking and partying as much as he used to which helped him get in proper shape to compete at a high level.
Federer said tennis fans will enjoy Willis’ story and a lot of people will be rooting for him, which is fine with Federer who said he thinks Willis’ story is a very cool one.