If WA tennis star Matt Ebden’s new “little warrior” baby Harvey follows his dad onto the courts in the future, it will come as no surprise.
Likely to have been conceived during last year’s French Open in Paris before Ebden’s wife Kim was confirmed pregnant with him at the iconic Wimbledon event in London a month later, the bouncing baby boy arrived at home in Perth on February 15 with little of the Covid-19 angst that preceded his birth.
Ebden admitted to deep stress for him and his wife, having resigned themselves to the fact he would miss Harvey’s birth because of Premier Mark McGowan’s strict quarantine rules that would have kept him behind doors following his runner-up performance in the doubles of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
He had originally hoped to finish quarantine on February 5 as per the State Government’s original border announcement.
But with widespread prayers, led by Ebden’s mentor and tennis legend Margaret Court through her Victory Life Centre, Mr McGowan changed the requirements allowing Ebden to emerge a week before his baby’s birth at a healthy 52cm and 3.36kg.
“There was some sort of magic work there – it was seriously a miracle,” Ebden, who has a career-high singles ranking of world No.39, said.
“It was pretty hard and I’d gone through all those feelings through the second week of the Aussie Open after McGowan came on an said he wasn’t keeping to his announcement. Kim was distraught and there were big panic stations before going into disaster containment mode and thinking about how we were going to find a way through it.
“We really had to come to grips with it over days and weeks, but he was an obedient little boy and stayed in until his due date . To get back and see Kim was really emotional when I was finally free to give her that first hug and we broke down in tears with all that pent up emotion and anxiety.”
A extra-doting father in his early stages to the point he was setting an alarm every 20 minutes to check Harvey was breathing, Ebden said he was already loving the family journey.
“It was amazing and really surreal in those first moments when you’re a father,” he said.
“We’d seen a couple of 3D scans of how he might look, but when he came out he was so different. I saw a bit of my dad’s side and a bit of Kim’s dad’s side, but I didn’t really see myself in him straight away.
“Then as the days go by, you see different things and different family members and that’s been fun and exciting.”
Ebden’s eldest of two sisters Candice has two children with names starting with J – Jaxon and Jasmin. The names of the other sister Tarryn’s children were to be called Isaac and Isabella (later plans for Tarryn saw a change from Isabella to Annabelle), leaving the Ebdens with plans to name their children with names starting with H.
The name Harvey is said to mean a “strong and worthy warrior”. His middle name Matthew is appropriately a “gift from God”. Matthew is obviously the first name of his father, whose middle name Charles is the surname of his father.
In 2018, Ebden revealed to The West Australian that he planned to become more “stone-cold killerish” about his tennis and hoped Harvey would be the same. But he said there were few similarities between match-point at a grand slam event and the birth of his first child.
“One, you’re going for your goals and achievements and the other one is innate,” he said. “It’s really the essence of life and what matters.”
Despite his new fatherly duties, Ebden is not yet ready for retirement and plans to get back on the tour for the Miami Open late next month. He hoped his family would be able to join him at the French Open in May.