Shang's father was a professional footballer and his mother was a table tennis champion

Shang Juncheng made history on Monday at Wimbledon, where he became the first Chinese man in the Open Era to win a match at The Championships. Watching on were his parents Wu Na and Shang Yi, who both know what it takes to compete at the highest level in sport.

Shang’s mother Wu Na was a world champion in table tennis, winning a bronze medal at the 1995 World Tennis Championships in women’s doubles and a gold medal in mixed doubles in 1997. Shang’s father played professional football as a midfielder, spending the majority of his career with Beijing Guoan and earning two international caps for China in 2000. 

“They have always played their own sports with me since I was a kid," Shang told at Wimbledon. "I played a lot of football with my dad and some table tennis with mum and then also we would go and have fun with other sports as well, so I think that we're a pretty sporty family. We have always liked to be active and competitive, so I think that sets a good tone as an athlete when you're really young, learning how to compete.

“My grandparents have shown me some footage of my parents playing sport as well. My parents don't like to brag about how they were doing before. But they were great athletes, I believe. And results-wise, they were for sure.”

#NextGenATP Shang would spend many afternoons playing football in the park with his dad when he was young. However, the Chinese lefty admitted that trying to make the grade in tennis was always the No. 1 goal.

“I actually really loved playing football, but due to a lot of injuries from my dad, my mum didn't want me to follow that way,” Shang said. “It was tough for him. A lot of surgeries and then injuries coming back in and out. They loved tennis since they were athletes, and the first time I tried it between tennis and golf, I preferred tennis.

“I thought tennis you can have a lot of rallies and then I love golf now but back then I thought it was boring just hitting one shot and you had to walk a long way. As a kid, I think tennis you can play with other kids as well and it's a really competitive sport, not just by yourself. I think that is how I started liking it.”

Shang is currently No. 91 in the PIF ATP Rankings, having broken into the Top 100 for the first time in May. The 19-year-old, who started training at the IMG Academy in 2019, reached his first tour-level semi-final in Hong Kong at the start of the year. However, he has also suffered setbacks in 2024, losing in the first round of qualifying at Roland Garros.

Alongside coach Martin Alund, Shang's parents have used their sporting experiences to continually provide crucial information to help the lefty develop and overcome disappointment.

“When I got into tennis, as athletes they both helped. My mum played an individual sport, she knows how to compete by herself and then also having her team help her. My dad playing a team sport was a little bit different, but with physical contact, he knows how important fitness is and measures to help prevent injury, so I think it's really perfect for me as a kid to start like that in a family who understand. I'm fortunate they've taught me so many things, basically everything I know, and it's just really positive.

“They're still traveling with me now and teaching me a lot of things. Also taking the pressure away from an athlete is also important because right now playing the pros is physical, but also mental, so I think they're two different things. They are splitting the pressure with me in some way for sure. Also my coach as well. So I think that's a really positive side.”

Shang Juncheng
Photo Credit: Getty Images. Shang Juncheng in action at Wimbledon against Cristian Garin.
Shang was cheered on by his dad and mum during his first-round victory against former quarter-finalist Cristian Garin at Wimbledon. The 19-year-old is competing in his 11th tour-level event of the season this week. At the same stage last season, Shang had played six ATP Tour events.

With his rise up the PIF ATP Rankings, the amount of time on the road has increased and Shang is thankful to have his parent’s company when he travels.

“I think tennis can be described as a lonely sport,” Shang said. “Sometimes it's tough to explain how you're actually feeling, so I think communication with everyone is the most important.

“We are super close as a family and traveling together. We need to know everything about each other and what is going on in the team and I think sometimes a lack of communication can cause a little bit of a problem. Maybe not enough trust and that causes a lot of pressure on the court as well, so I think so far we are doing great. I hope to continue this trust between all of us.”

#NextGenATP Shang, who is currently third in the PIF ATP Live Race To Jeddah, will be hoping he can upset Grigor Dimitrov in the second round at SW19 to extend his and his family's stay in west London.