The fathers of tennis hold a special place in the sport. Yesterday saw Father’s Day celebrations around the world, with many players’ fathers having played a significant role in their careers. Athletes like the fathers of Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams and their contributions to their careers have been key to their success.
Perhaps the most prolific tennis father is Richard Williams, father of Serena and Venus Williams. Richard Williams was instrumental in their development as players and in their early career success. His contributions to their daughters’ careers were captured in the film King Richardwho was nominated for six Oscars.
Rafael Nadal’s father, Sebastian Nadal, was also a mainstay in the life of the 22-time Grand Slam champion.
Sebastian Nadal is a businessman with a vested interest in several businesses including insurance and a glass company. Despite his busy schedule, Sebastian Nadal is often seen attending his son’s matches, especially in Grand Slams.
Roger Federer might be the ultimate role model in sports due to his immaculate demeanor. However, that wasn’t always the case as he attributed the change in his behavior on the pitch to his father, Robert Federer. The 40-year-old was prone to outbursts, smashing rackets and arguing with the referee.
The Swiss maestro recalled how his bad behavior as a teenager left his father disappointed with his attitude. He hit his breaking point one day after practice and his dad gave him some money and asked Roger to go home alone. The 20-time Grand Slam champion believes that’s when his attitude started to change for the good.
Another sports superstar who picked up a tennis racket is Iga Świątek. The world No. 1 credits her father Tomasz Świątek for introducing her to the sport, as Tomasz Świątek was keen to see his daughters develop their talents in sport and tennis in particular.
Tomasz Świątek is no stranger to the life of an athlete as he was an Olympian and represented Poland in rowing. He competed in the men’s quadruple event at the 1988 Summer Olympics, where Poland won the “B” final to finish seventh overall.
Other tennis stars who were heavily influenced by their fathers
Like the aforementioned tennis players, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Coco Gauff as well as others attributed their success to their fathers. Alexander Zverev Sr. raised two boys in Sascha and Mischa as both followed in their father’s footsteps and took up tennis.
Zverev’s father continues to play an important role in his career and has been in the German box throughout the calendar for several years.
Apostolos Tsitsipas, the father of world number 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, is also his head coach and is a crucial factor in Stefanos’ success as a player. Apostolos Tsitsipas a speak about the night a young Stefanos told him he wanted to pursue a career in sports.
“After winning a tournament in Normandy, I remember the night we flew to Greece, he wasn’t sleeping, he was super excited and he came up to me and said he wanted just playing tennis and doing nothing else in his life, because he felt so good on a tennis court,” Apostolos said.
Corey Gauff, Coco Gauff’s father, has often been credited with managing the fame and money that got in the way of their daughter and keeping her focused on the sport. Coco Gauff burst onto the scene at such a young age and credited her father for his support.