Interview: Michael Chang on Faith and Marriage

Dec 20, 2008 04:13 AM EST

SAN FRANCISCO - Former world tennis champion and first Chinese tennis champion Michael Chang and his newly wed Amber Liu shared their joyful life of marriage at the press conference hosted by Prince of Peace Corporation on Nov. 21.

The following is the account of the interview with Chang at the press conference:

Q: I heard a lot about your wife from the media here, but can you share a bit about your marriage life and how you and your wife met?

Chang: We met through tennis. We met the first time at US Open in 2003. She was playing there in the main draw at the women’s event. I met her very briefly. I went up to the player lounge. She was talking with my brother Carl. It was the first time we have met. I’ve only talked to her for a few minutes. I did not see her again until last year. She is actually very good friends with my cousin James, who also went to Stanford and played on the tennis team. We kind of indirectly met through him. I didn’t know where she lived down in the Orange County area, which is where I’m from. We got a chance to practice a little bit and through that period of time we got to know each other and she fell in love with me. Things just blossomed. The Lord’s been blessing everything and our wedding was a lot of fun. Our honeymoon was great. We went to Hawaii and spent some time in Tahiti. It has been very rewarding.

Liu: What do you want me to add? You talk about your side with the story. Well…he fell in love with me. We got to know each through tennis. It wasn’t expected. It was interesting that there were some time meeting at the first U.S. open and meeting again, and I thought that the Lord brought us together. I thought it was really in his time.

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Q: we know that you are a really sincere Christian. Can you share with us your struggle while you were waiting for your true love and how long?

Chang:I will be honest with you. As a believer and being a single man for a longtime, it really comes in where the mentality of your heart is. I always felt that I’m not going to get married until the right person comes along. For me, marriage is really the second most important decision that you will make in your life. It is not one to be taken lightly. I feel that in the process I learned a lot of things about myself and about different characteristics that are really important for great marriage and for future things as far as family is concerned, such as love for children and sharing the same faith. That was probably one of the things that I was so surprised in meeting Amber, because as I started to get to know her. I recognize the fact that we have so many things in common. I was really quite shocked. I had opportunity to meet other people. Different characteristics are nice, but you never had an opportunity to meet somebody with all of the characteristics. On top of that, aspects of family were that important to her.

At first I was very skeptical, you know you had a chance to get to know somebody and everyone puts on their good face at the beginning. After the period of time, you see their true color. You see the good and you see the not so good. It didn’t long for me to realize how she is and her character and her attitude and who she is genuine and somebody that I can not only trust but somebody who I want to spend the rest of my life with and grow old with and communicate with that I don’t have reservation. I don’t think that is very easy to find. I’ve had opportunities to encourage single people. For many of them, they are waiting for the right person. It is important to take that time to make sure that you are that right person. There are a lot of things that you can do with your time. As a single person, you have the freedom to do different things and go different places. You should cherish that time. When the right person comes along, then you will know. Then, it becomes very sweet.

Q: Can you share more about how while you’ve found out that Amber is the true love that God assigned you?

Chang: I think there are many things that you look for. One of the first things for me is that I’m constantly seeking for God’s wisdom. I’m constantly asking for guidance and asking him to show me good things and not so good things so that I basically have a very clear picture of what the situation really is and what it is that I’m getting into.

That could be applied to other aspects as well when you are seeking God’s guidance for picking your future wife. This one in particular obviously my family played a very crucial role. I will ask their opinions and thoughts and what they see, because my two sets of eyes can be biased. I’m going to see more good things. They may see things that are different than I do. I’m going to trust their opinion because they see good things differently but they know me very well. My mom and my dad and Carl and Diana and very close friends that are around me, they are going to see things that are unique and I want to be able to have their opinions and their thoughts. It was important to bring amber around to allow them a chance to get to know her for her and also important for her to get to know my family. These are people who she is going to spend a lot of time around with and it is important for her to feel comfortable and feel loved and accepted and as well as me for her family and all of those things. And also know that you have God’s peace and thoughts. You weigh things as far as you know are really important and cannot compromise on and over a period a time you start to be able to see things. I think time is the true sensitive of what is real.

Q: Do you have any plan to hold charity competition with other couples?

Chang: To be honest with you, I don’t think anybody else can beat us. I think tennis wise I don’t see that happening.

Audience: Be humble, Michael.

(Crowd Laughs)

Chang: I take that back we might have trouble with Andre and Stefi. We’ve done something through our Chang Family Foundation. As far as charity-wise, we may do something in the future, don’t have anything on the calendar, nor have we thought too much about that. The stuff with our Chang Family Foundation takes out a fair amount of time. We’ve tried to use basketball, volleyball, and tennis to outreach to the community and obviously tennis takes up a special plate because we’re so involved in sports and certain things about tennis that they wouldn’t necessary be able to learn from the recreational side.

Q: If you two disagree on something, then who usually would compromise?

Chang: Will you (Amber) answer that? (Audience laughs) To be quite honest, I feel like both of us are pretty easy going people. I think one of the things that we have learned from pre-marital counseling and also asking other people who have been married for long time, what is the most important thing for a marriage to be successful. One of the thing that we often heard is compromise. I think it is fair to say that when you are single, you do everything based upon how you want to do it and you are pretty much your own decision. When you are married, there is another person to take into consideration as far as all of those decisions. We are still making adjustments as far as that. Sometimes I will inadvertently just make a decision because I’m used to make a decision, but I will realize shortly that timely and rightly that we are together. To compromise is important.

If we are in a fight and we’re trying to win the argument, if I win the argument, then in the end we both lose. To be able to compromise and to be able to talk things about and communicate, it becomes a very important part of our relationship and making it work. We need to leave our selfish ways behind and be able to take care of each other in a way that is nurturing and loving and that takes the other person’s best interest at heart.

Q: Is there a plan to add a new member to the family? Are you currently planning something?

Chang: I keep reminding her and I’ve been reminding her through our engagement that I have twins in my gene. My grandma was a twin. I keep teasing her that it would be nice to have twin boys. For the time being, it would be important for us to get settle. We like to be able to find a home at where we are and start to get settled. When the time is right, then we will continue talk about that. I know my mom and dad are eager, but they have three grand-daughters. My brother’s three daughters are a lot of fun. They are nine, six, and five.

Q: You are not in a hurry?

Chang: I don’t think there is necessarily any hurry. I don’t think I will wait for too long. When the time is right, we will know.

Q. You’ve mentioned about tennis academy is not happening. Does it have anything to do with the bad economy right now?

Chang: I don’t really know. We were really ready to go and open academy in fall of this year. I have been planning to be over there for maybe about a third of the year. We’ve hired staffs already. We’ve hired the tennis director and director of education. We were already starting to look into hiring coaches. In fact, these people have gone over to Shenzhen to look at the facility and see out how we’re going to structure everything. Prior to the summer, which we were going to do a trial camp, our partners came to us and they said that they were not able to build the facilities that we’ve talked about and under the circumstances I don’t know if you are familiar with the weather in Shenzhen it is hard to play there year round. Whether it is because of the rain of the hot and humid weather, you probably can’t play for three and half months of the year and this is going to be a year-round academy and so no longer did they want to build the indoor facility. Well, if you don’t build indoor facility, then how can you play tennis?

The other thing that was also an issue for us is that we would have kids that would come for maybe a week or few days at a time and then we have professionals coming in periodically depending upon how their schedule was on the tour and then we would have kids also living there year round constantly and they did not have the facility. They were originally going to build an indoor facility which would allow our counselors to watch over these kids 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, and they basically said that we’re not going to build that anymore. It is disappointing to be not able to have the facility that we can house and care for the kids in a way that we know that we need to care for them. If parents are going to leave the kids there, it is my responsibility for the well being of these children. They talked about housing these kids maybe in some of these apartment buildings with other residential and community in the Shenzhen area, but they were so spread out that 15 year old kid says I feel walking around the area 10 at night and we didn’t have counselors that were in every single apartment complex we would not have control over that. I did not feel good about that. I think that it is important obviously that we’re trying to help these kids in their tennis abilities and we’re trying to help them become world class tennis players, but at the same time you need to be able to take into consideration the importance of developing these kids as human beings and really helping them to grow as individuals and be able to realize their talents and gifts and be able to encourage them in a way that will help them to have a positive self-identity and be able to have a good self-esteem and to be able to go out to the world whether they play tennis or not to have confidence.

These things were all very important to us. When they said that we can’t provide these things for you and for these kids but can we still have it? How are we going to do it? This was really our dilemma. I didn’t want to do something half-hearted. When we commit ourselves in doing something, we give it our 100%. That was part of the reason why I committed so much time and committed to finding and hiring these people who are over there over a period of 9-12 months period of time.

Q: Was it a big loss for you?

Chang: It was disappointing. It was something that I have been looking forward to it for quite a long time. We hope that maybe down in the future other opportunities will come up. For the time being, we kind of have to start back at square one. We have to look at who we can partner with and facility wise, find a place where will be attracted to kids coming in from China and Hong Kong.

We’re still looking for opportunities to be able to do that. Like I’ve mentioned, we have a heart for China. It has been great to see how China has excelled in the area of sports, and I think this year’s Beijing Olympics is a great example of that. They have put on first-class event. I don’t think anybody will disagree with me on that. Just to give you an idea of the potential that China has, not just as far as their successful athletes but in doing something that can impact the world.