Damir Dokic, Marinko Lucic, Peter Graf and Stefano Capriati. Just a few of tennis’s infamous ‘bad dads’, fathers who have been in the news for all the wrong reasons, that is once their oppressed children found the courage to finally come out and speak the truth. Players over the years have recounted horror stories growing up and even while on tour, which has made tennis and bad fathers go together like chips and sauce. Or like Damir Dokic said himself, ambassador threats and hand grenades.
However, like in any sphere of life, where there is bad, there is good. There have been a number of players, some of them champions, who have owed everything they’ve achieved in the sport to their fathers. Today being Father’s Day, we take a look at some of tennis’ most famous dads:
1.) Richard Williams:
When the two girls you coached end up winning 23 Grand Slam titles between them(and counting), you know you’ve done something right. 70 year-old Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena Williams, is easily one of the most famous tennis fathers in history. Said to be inspired by watching 1978 French Open champion Virginia Ruzici, Williams decided that tennis was the ticket to fame, money and a world outside their undesirable Compton neighbourhood. Williams began taking both Serena and Venus to public tennis courts and started coaching them himself from 1995 onwards.
Success was almost immediate as the two sisters made a huge impact on the tennis world, carrying on the torch from their illustrious countrywomen before them as Serena was the first to win a Slam at the 1999 US Open. Venus followed it up with a win at Wimbledon in 2000 and since then, the two have racked up 21 more Grand Slam titles between them, and in the process completely breaking down barriers and completely changing the face of women’s tennis.