At the tender age of 25, Milos Raonic has been inducted into the Toronto Sports Hall of Honour as the first male athlete of the year. The Sports Hall of Honour opened this past week at the Toronto Pan-Am Sports Center (TPASC). The hall honors athletes who have brought recognition to the city of Toronto for their contributions in the sports world.
Canada’s Leading Man
Raonic’s family immigrated to Canada when he was three years old and settled in Thornhill, Ontario, a suburb immediately north of Toronto. The Canadian was introduced to tennis at a local club and grew up playing just north of Toronto. When Raonic broke through in 2011, he immediately embraced his status as Canada’s biggest star in the tennis world.
The question was immediately asked of Raonic whether or not he would continue representing Canada. The great white north’s only previous star, Greg Rusedski, had abandoned Canada for Great Britain in 1995. However, when asked about the possibility of playing for his native Montenegro, Raonic has always insisted that he is Canadian and will remain Canadian.
Raonic owns practically every record for a Canadian men’s singles player. He became the highest ranked Canadian in history in March 2011, and has continued to improve that number. He reached a career high ranking of number four in May 2015. In June 2014, he became the first Canadian man to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam at the French Open. He would go one better a month later by reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon. In 2013, he also led Canada to the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time.
Embracing the Role
Not only has Raonic been pushed into the spotlight as Canada’s leading man; he has embraced it. The man from Thornhill has been active in the community around Toronto and across Canada.
In 2012, he started the Milos Raonic Foundation, whose mission statement is to “support children from disadvantaged backgrounds in order to remove economic, physical and other barriers that might prevent them from becoming healthy, productive members of society.” The foundation continues to raise money for Canada’s Paralympic Committee and the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto.
Raonic has also worked hard to expand the sport in Canada. He often partners with Tennis Canada in initiatives to get more children to play tennis. When he is unable to play, he has been known to work as a TV commentator for Canadian network Sportsnet.
Raonic takes great pride in being a Canadian. At the end of his first two years on tour, he played high-profile exhibition matches in Toronto against Pete Sampras in 2011 and Andy Roddick in 2012. His love for the Toronto Raptors is also well known. All of that makes Milos Raonic a very fitting first choice as male athlete of the year in the Toronto Sports Hall of Honour.