The road to sports greatness has common stepping stones. With some of tennis’ greatest champions, the role of the father in their child’s success is often significant - something to be celebrated this Father’s Day.
Here are a few examples of fathers who raised champions or are themselves champions.
One of the greatest players the game has seen became a father for the first time in July 2009. Federer’s wife Mirka gave birth to a set of twins: Myla Rose and Charlene Riva. In 2014, the Federers welcomed another set of boys: Leo and Lennart.
A winner of a record 20 Grand Slam singles titles; the Swiss Maestro has shown he can successfully balance fatherhood and tennis. Traveling with toys and taking care of an army of youngsters, while practicing and trying to rest would prove to be quite the juggling act.
Federer made headlines four years ago with his first surgery of his career. The incident happened when the tennis legend was preparing a bath for his twin daughters and heard a click in his left knee.
The 38-year-old recently mentioned that his sons saw him playing and vocalized that they could do what he does.
Good luck, kids. For now, take the time to honour the man who made those dreams possible.
The current world No. 1 and 17-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic became a father for the first time in 2014 to son, Stefan, and in 2017 to daughter, Tara.
The Serbian sensation and his wife, Jelena, reside with their children in Monte Carlo, Monaco. But the Djokovics’ young family already has spent some quality time of the road.
After winning his fourth Wimbledon title in 2018, Djokovic expressed how grateful he was to have Stefan court side to watch his father in action. Wimbledon generally does not allow children under the age of 5 to spectate near the court, but that year, they made an exception.
Williams became a household name in tennis for raising two of the greatest female champions the game has seen, Serena and Venus.
After watching 1978 French Open champion Virigina Ruzici play on television, Williams decided prophetically that his daughters would become tennis professionals. Venus and Serena had yet to be born.
The rest is history.
Serena won the US Open in 1999 and Venus followed shortly thereafter winning Wimbledon in 2000. After this win, Richard jumped over the NBC broadcasting booth and did a victory dance, which generated buzz for quite some time.
Now 78, Richard has not been spotted as often watching his girls. But make no mistake, he was the predominant force behind the Williams Sisters success and still is today.
The two have combined to win 30 Grand Slams, including 23 by Serena - considered by many the greatest woman to ever play the game.
Toni Nadal (uncle)
Although Toni Nadal is not Rafael Nadal’s biological father, he has been like one to him on the tennis court. The man known as “Uncle Toni” has been Rafa’s coach since he was 4, but also much more.
Toni Nadal has served as his nephew’s support system and strategist.
A former soccer star in Spain, Toni made sure that from a young age, Rafa was adaptable to change and different circumstances. Often times, he would train the young Spaniard on courts in both good and bad condition, and was vital in the development of Rafa’s fierce attitude and self-belief.
The Olympic Gold medalist and 19-time Grand Slam champion calls Uncle Toni - still on Rafa’s coaching staff today - his inspiration.
Check out our Father's Day guide for great gift ideas.