Every champion will have a story to tell about the sacrifices they made to reach the pinnacle of their sport and almost all of them will involve a parent or a guardian who pushed them to their limits. Most future stars are introduced to the sport by their parents and some of them drive them to achieve great things.
There have been examples of parents sacrificing their careers and moving bases so that their kid gets the best facilities to pursue glory. Though there are extreme versions of successful ‘tennis’ parents, it is beyond doubt that it helps to have a focused guardian motivating you to achieve the most.
Successful tennis parents range from the caring and sacrificing to the obsessed, overbearing, and downright insane - as evident from Jelena Dokic’s story where she revealed that her father Damir Dokic used to hit her ‘for her own sake’.
Then there is Judy Murray who portrays herself as her sons’, Jamie and Andy, biggest fan. As such, let’s take a look at some of the most successful parents in tennis.
#5 Yuri Sharapov
Maria Sharapova, before her recent controversy with regards to doping, was the highest paid female athlete in the world for several years running despite her ‘moderate’ success as far as Grand Slams are concerned. She took the world by storm at Wimbledon 2004 as a bubbly teenager who took apart Serena Williams in the final. The cornerstone of her astronomical rise thereafter was probably her dad, Yuri Sharapov.
After Martina Navratilova suggested to Yuri that Maria should train in Florida, he went to the USA with Maria and meager savings. He could not even take his wife, Yelena Sharapova, with him to the country as the family could not afford her visa at the time. Yelena would follow them two years later, although she has since split with Yuri.
Sharapov toiled hard, doing menial jobs, while also ensuring his daughter received the best coaching. Sharapova’s coaches have spoken plenty of times about the commitment Yuri had shown for his daughter’s game and the way he conducted himself in tournaments.
Though Yuri has on occasions shown his belligerent side (when he made a throat-slashing gesture from the stands in Sharapova’s win over Justine Henin in the 2008 Australian Open), the role he has played in Sharapova’s envious career is second to none.