Gleneagles Townhouse
Getting to Know:

Xavier Malisse at The Glorious Garden Party

26 June 2023

“A heady mixture of tennis, laughter and Champagne” Xavier Malisse tells us what to expect from the annual Garden Party

A highlight of the summer calendar here at Gleneagles is without a doubt The Garden Party — a day of good sport, good food, and (hopefully) good weather in the glorious grounds of the estate. Gathering our esteemed guests alongside some of tennis’ most celebrated names, the day centres around an exhibition match in which our professional athletes go head-to-head in a bout of friendly fire.

Emerging as a regular at our Garden Party is the celebrated Belgian player Xavier Malisse — a name that any tennis fan will associate with elegance and agility both on and off the court. He eloquently describes the Gleneagles Garden Party as a heady mixture of “tennis, laughter and Champagne”, explaining that while there is a sense of competitiveness on the court, the atmosphere is more relaxed than a formal tournament, with everyone there to have a good time.

A Belgian tennis sensation, Xavier swiftly made his mark on the professional circuit with his unique style and remarkable talent. Representing his country in the Davis Cup and securing multiple ATP tour titles, he’s a true tennis maestro who has become known not only for his ability but also for his magnetic personality, infectious humour, and an undeniable bond with his fans.

Last year, Xavier was paired with Laura Robson to take on the team of Martina Hingis and Mark Philippoussis in a doubles match. Martina and Mark were seen as the favourites due to their experience, but Laura and Xavier put up a strong fight. “Playing against Martina and Mark is always an honour and great fun”, Xavier said of the match, adding that while Mark is always a tough opponent, they have known each other for a long time and have a good relationship.

Throughout his career, Xavier has faced many challenging competitors, but he says none more so than the French player Sebastian Grosjean. “He is my dark horse!” Xavier laughs. “I just couldn’t win against him, even though we played some very tight matches and similar styles. It just wasn’t happening for me.”

But his memories as a professional tennis player are overwhelmingly positive. He describes the atmosphere on Centre Court at Wimbledon when he made the semi- finals as ‘magical’, hailing it as his favourite outdoor court. “It’s the heaven of tennis”, he says. “It’s something you have to experience to explain”

While the Gleneagles Garden Party is first and foremost a tennis event, there is plenty of action off the court. “I love the lunch, with the old school band playing in the background and everyone all dressed up — it’s great vibes”, Xavier says of the day. “I enjoy every minute from the moment we drive onto the premises! In one word… it’s magnificent”.