Steve Johnson, the No.25 seed in the French Open, will be taking the court with a heavy heart.
His father, Steve Johnson Sr., passed away in his sleep earlier this month. He was 58.
"I was taking a shower and I didn't realize he had just passed away, but I was just thinking about how great a man he was and that I will probably never have another parent like him," University of Southern California men’s tennis head coach Peter Smith, who coached Steve Johnson, told tennisrecruiting.net. "He just cleared all the obstacles away for Stevie to be great. People didn't really understand that."
Johnson Sr. was a prominent coach in California for over 35 years, beginning his coaching career as a 21-year-old after attending Santa Ana College.
“My stress came from when I came off the court,” Johnson Sr. said in an interview a year and a half ago. “I’m always happy when I’m on the tennis court teaching, or when I’m out watching Stevie play. That’s when I’m happiest.”
The world No. 26-ranked Johnson played his first matches since his father passed away in Geneva last week, where he honored Steve Sr. by reaching the quarterfinals in both singles and doubles (with Sam Querrey).