Jack Draper reveals Alzheimer’s disease has had a ‘cruel’ impact on one of his biggest tennis inspirations

Jack Draper with his nan

Rising British tennis star Jack Draper has offered up some emotional comments after revealing his grandmother is no longer able to recognise his achievements in tennis due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Draper’s grandmother is suffering from the condition that causes dementia and the gradual decline of cognitive functioning in the brain and she has not been able to enjoy his rise to the top of the game over the last couple of years.

A key figure in his tennis development, Draper’s grandmother was a tennis coach and inspired his mother Nicky to also enjoy a career coaching in the game.

Their experiences in tennis opened the door for young Jack to start his journey in the sport and now he has reflected on a story that he admits has had a big impact on his family.

“As a former tennis player and coach who worked with many top national players, it was devastating for me and my family to see my grandmother’s condition deteriorate,” said Draper.

“Nana was one of my biggest supporters growing up and I have always been very close to her, but this is a disease which completely takes away the person you knew.

“My Pa, who is Nana’s main carer, still brings her to the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton to watch me train, but she doesn’t know who I am. And if my tennis matches are on TV, he will tell Nana it’s me but it doesn’t register with her anymore.

“This is probably the saddest part for me and my family, that she no longer recognises or is able to communicate with us. Nana was a huge supporter of my tennis, and I wish she could see and appreciate all the things I’ve achieved so far as I know she would be very proud of me.”

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Draper is working with Alzheimer’s Society in the UK and is hoping to raise awareness of what he describes as a ‘cruel’ condition.

“In the midst of what is a very sad and difficult time, you have to try to find moments of laughter and cherish them,” he added.

“Nana, in the early to mid stages of the disease, was able to communicate, sing songs and recite rhymes.

“At times, she was funny and we laughed a lot. However, 10 years on she can’t do any of this, but if she sees a baby or a young child, she will still smile – which lets us all know that while her brain isn’t there anymore, she will always be there at heart.

“I personally know how horrendous this disease is and the impact it has on not only the person diagnosed, but also family, friends and carers.

“It’s why I have decided to support Alzheimer’s Society, as I am passionate about finding a cure so we can finally bring an end to the devastation caused by dementia.”

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