The film King Richard (2021) introduced us all to the dedication with which Richard Williams, Serena and Venus Williams’ father, trained his daughters to become the legendary tennis players they are today. Other famous players like Maria Sharapova, Andre Agassi and Martina Hingis too have been coached by their parents. Balancing the role of a coach while also being a good parent is complex but has been instrumental in many of these athletes’ success.
With Wimbledon having started this week, here's a look at some players who were once coached by their parents or family members.
Andy Murray; ATP world no. 51
The British tennis player and three-time Grand Slam champion was first introduced to the sport by his mother, Judy Murray who was a national tennis coach. She first took him to play on public tennis courts in Glasgow when he was three years old and ended up coaching him until he was around eleven. Though she’s no longer his coach, Judy watches her son’s matches intently from the box.
Anett Kontaveit; WTA world no. 2
26 year-old Estonian, Anett Kontaveit remembers holding tennis rackets as a toddler, waiting for her mother, Ülle Milk, a professional coach, to get done with her training sessions. Kontaveit started lessons when she was 6 and was coached by her mother until she was 11.
Alexander Zverev; ATP world no. 2
25 year old German tennis player, Alexander “Sascha” Zverev, comes from a family of tennis players. Both his mother, Irina Zvereva and father, Alexander Mikhailovich Zverev, were professional players in the Soviet Union. Growing up Sascha was mainly coached by his mother who he credits in developing his backhand. Sascha will be missing the Wimbledon this year due to an ankle injury.
Danielle Collins; WTA world no. 8
American tennis player Danielle Collins has been making waves after coming second at the Australian Open. Danielle was introduced to tennis by her father, Walter Collins, who used to play recreationally. Danielle says that her dad spent hours on the court coaching her and trying to get her the best resources to succeed.
Rafael Nadal; ATP world no. 4
Nadal, the 22 time Grand Slam champion from Spain, actually played both tennis and football when he was younger. It was his uncle, professional tennis coach, Toni Nadal, who nudged him to focus on one sport and play left-handed tennis in order to get an advantage on the court. Toni was a harsh disciplinarian saying that he wanted his nephew to stay humble despite his success.
Casper Ruud; ATP world no. 5
Casper Ruud, recently came second at the French Open, losing to Nadal in the finals. The 23-year-old Norwegian is coached by his father, Christian Ruud who is a former professional tennis player with a career-high world ranking of no. 39. Christian is happy that his son has been able to beat all of his own former achievements and says he doesn’t find it difficult being both a father and a coach.
Naomi Osaka; WTA world no. 42
Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka and four time Grand Slam champion was introduced to tennis by her father, Leonard Francois. Francois said that he was inspired to make his daughters learn tennis by watching the Williams sisters play at the French Open in 1999. Despite not having played the sport before, Francois followed the training methods Richard Williams had used until he was able to send his daughters to get professionally trained. Osaka will not be competing in 2022 Wimbledon either.