The girlfriend of Britain’s Wimbledon hero Cameron Norrie has spoken about their romance and what he is like off the court for the first time.
American entrepreneur Louise Jacobi, 32, said she met the UK’s top tennis player at a New York bar three years ago and has been travelling around the world to support him ever since.
Ms Jacobi was in tears after watching her boyfriend defeat Belgium’s David Goffin in front of thousands of spectators including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Tuesday.
Speaking to the PA news agency the next day, she said: “It was surreal.
“When your significant other is crying in front of you – like choking up – how could I keep a dry eye?
“I remember him saying when we first met: ‘Oh, my dream would be to be in the top 10.’
“Back then I didn’t know it was going to transpire, and just watching his hard work pay off has been insane.”
Norrie became Britain’s number one after winning the ATP tournament at Indian Wells last October and he broke into the world top 10 for the first time in April.
Chicago-born Ms Jacobi said she was introduced to Norrie in the summer of 2019 by mutual friends after he had been studying at the Texas Christian University (TCU), and “the rest is history”.
Ms Jacobi, who has a fine art degree from the University of Michigan, revealed how initially she “just wasn’t interested” in the Johannesburg-born 26-year-old because he was always away on tennis tours.
But it was Norrie’s “persistence” and the fact he did “an amazing job at keeping in touch” even when they were thousands of miles apart that allowed their early relationship to flourish.
In October 2019, Ms Jacobi’s former employer went bankrupt and she lost her job – so Norrie asked her to join him at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, Austria.
“When he asked me, I thought: ‘I guess this guy doesn’t live a normal life, and it’s not like I can meet (him) down the street and go to dinner together’,” she recalled.
“So I went on this trip and was only supposed to be in Vienna for five days, and things just went really well. I had a wonderful time with him.
“In some weird way, I was like: ‘Thank God I got laid off when I did’, because we were able to build the foundation of our relationship before Covid hit.”
When asked what Norrie is like off the court, Ms Jacobi said: “Pretty similar to on the court, in the sense that he’s very calm, very level-headed, easy-going and takes things as they come.
“That’s pretty much exactly how he is.
“He loves golf and he loves playing with his trainer who stays with us a lot – backgammon, playing with their Rubik’s Cubes, timing each other and stuff like that.
“When he retires I want to go skiing with him, but right now is not the time.”
Ms Jacobi, who founded Studio Virgo – a homeware and fashion accessory shop – also revealed that she is friends with some of the other players’ partners, including Team GB star Dan Evans’ fiancee, Aleah.
She even met Goffin’s wife – Stephanie Tuccitto – before he was defeated by her boyfriend on Tuesday.
“It’s difficult because these girls are so nice, and then our boyfriends have to play against each other,” she said.
“But for the most part, everyone has been really nice, really supportive – good camaraderie.
“Stephanie even retweeted congratulations.”
On whether she had any apprehensions about being thrust into the limelight following Norrie’s sky-rocket to success, Ms Jacobi said: “Not necessarily.
“For the most part he and I try to keep our personal lives private.
“For both of us, trying to maintain a sense of normalcy is something we definitely agree on.”
As a tennis novice, Ms Jacobi said her support comes in the form of helping keep Norrie calm.
When asked about a friend’s Instagram post describing her as “the wind beneath his racket”, Ms Jacobi laughed and said: “I didn’t even know how to keep score when I first met him.
“But I definitely, in a lot of ways, help keep his mind off of tennis, give him some sort of separation, and keep him calm.”
She has been to “80 to 90% of his matches” since they have been together but will not be going to the US Open this year due to her own commitments.
Ms Jacobi, from Bolingbrook, Illinois, said she loves “travelling the world together”, but added that Norrie is having to miss a lot of their friends’ weddings.
Norrie also suffered injuries after a moped accident several years ago, and Ms Jacobi said he still has a scar on his chin.
When asked if the crash was a turning point in Norrie’s life, she said: “He did tell me about it.
“A year ago, one of the commentators at a tournament said something about the accident being a turning point, and I asked him (Norrie): ‘Is that true?’
“And he was like: ‘Yeah, kind of’. I think it’s been overplayed a little bit, though – it was a long time ago.”
When asked about how she was feeling for Norrie’s next game against the defending champion, Novak Djokovic, Ms Jacobi said: “It’s definitely going to be a tough match.
“But I know he can do it.”
Norrie will face the Serbian 20-time grand slam winner at Wimbledon on Friday.