Saturday, January 12, 2013

Piotr Wozniacki/Victor Krason

This is a translation of this web article as it appeared in the print edition

"I took the name to honour my grand-parents," says Caroline Wozniacki's father, as he lifts the curtain on a traumatic childhood and a strange name change.

For several years, Piotr has refused to explain why, since 2003, his name has been Victor Krason on all official documents. He's refused partly because he felt it was his own private matter, and he wasn't going to let himself be dictated to by people who - he felt - wished him no good.

It's led to myths making him almost a Mafia-like figure, so now he's decided to relate the personally sensitive story for the sake of his family.

It was his father's wish

For him, the most important thing in life is family, and it's for his family that he has the same name as his maternal grandfather.

"My father asked me to change my name when he was very sick and lay on his deathbed," he says, as his thoughts wander back 50 years, to when his biological parents, Tadeusz and Bozena Wozniacki, from Przemkow in Poland, delivered the baby Piotr to Bozena's parents, Victor and Zofia Krason who lived in Sulejon, 500 km away.

"My parents had it bad economically and they were very young. My mother was a teacher and my father a factory worker. The lived in one room. My grandparents were better off and wanted to help, so I grew up with them and called them mum and dad, because that's who I thought they were.

"It was a big shock when I found out differently at eight years old. One day there were suddenly two people at the doorstep who said they were my parents and now were taking me home."

"I made a mistake"

At the same time Piotr med his two year younger sister Teresa, and his life changed radically.

"I was still emotionally very attached to my grandparents, and I was with them as often as I could during the holidays. They'd been responsible for a large part of my upbringing and had given me many important values. The first time I really looked at my biological parents as my real parents was when I was an adult and had children.

"It was a bit taboo in my new home to talk about what happened. It was first many years later that they realised they'd made a mistake in letting me live with my grandparents for so long."

Tadeusz Wozniacki's last wish then, was that he should honour his maternal grandparents by taking his maternal grandfather's name.

"I'd mentioned the possibility of changing my name when I was 15 and had moved from home to a sports college. Later I did it, but probably made a mistake in not keeping Wozniacki as part of the name for the sake of the family. Then I'd have had both names and would have spared my family from all the wild speculations. I realised that later. But my children and my wife know the story and accepted the decision."

Family is the most important thing

His own traumatic childhood has led him to dedicate himself so extensively to his family, to his role as father and to keeping the family together.

"Anna and I came alone to Denmark, had an adult life and a family. We've used all our energy to help our children. Today I have a beautiful family with two happy children who are doing what they want to do.

"I think Patrik and Caroline matured early because we spent so much time with them and talked with them about everything.

"They've had close contact with their grandparents. Family is the most important thing in the world, much more important than money and status," says Piotr Wozniacki, who lost his mother during Wimbledon 2009
and last year (2010) had to leave Roland Garros to say goodbye to his sister, who was ill with cancer.

"When you changed your name, you were still a businessman who did business in Poland and Russia. Didn't you realise that rumours would start when you suddenly changed your name and didn't want to explain why?"

"But that kind of thing happens according to very ordinary procedures. Denmark has very clear rules about things like that. Everything's official. You can't even have double Danish-Polish citizenship. Why would people speculate about it? Everything's on paper if they're so interested," he says, and shakes his head.

"But you must have wondered why those rumours started?"

"I know that envy is a part of the life we lead. And no, I don't think that's especially Danish. Those kinds of people are everywhere, and you can't dictate what people think of you. Everyone calls me Piotr Wozniacki, but all who know me know my name is Victor Krason. There's no problem. But maybe I'll add the Wozniacki name for the sake of my family"