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Wimbledon Top 10: Tennis parents

AEGON GB Fed Cup captain Judy Murray watches at qualifying
by Mark Hodgkinson
Wednesday 26 June 2013

Their support is legendary – in today's top 10 Wimbledon.com takes a look at tennis parents.

1. It was Gloria Connors who introduced her son Jimmy to tennis. And it was Gloria who helped to turn him into such a formidable competitor. As she would say to little Jimmy on the practice court: "Get those tiger juices flowing." She would also hit balls past him sand say: "See, even your mother will do that to you." Or tell him that the whole world was against the Connors family: "It's us versus them, kid. Get it? Everyone's out to get us and, yeah, by the way, I'm the only one who's got your back." 

2. Petra Kvitova's father Jiri could not stop crying when his daughter won the 2011 title. "When I won Wimbledon, I think everyone saw how my father was crying. He was a little crazy, and for me it was a little funny. The tears were the most funny. Normally, when I was a kid, he showed no emotion, and now he was crying a lot. He was crying on court. He was crying for an hour after the match was over. When I have a good result now, he's like that. But he wasn't always like that." 

3. While a fair number of the female competitors at this year's Championships are coached by their fathers – or have worked with them in the past – it's extremely rare for male tennis players to be coached by their mothers. Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin, who reached the fourth round at the All England Club last summer, is one of those few. Istomin and his mother Klaudiya occasionally share a hotel room to save money. "It means I can't bring girls to my room. But that's okay as I have a girlfriend at home. I have my own house at home." 

4. Andre Agassi's father Mike and Steffi Graf's father Peter once had a physical confrontation after an argument about a ball machine escalated. According to Agassi – he wrote about this incident in his memoirs, Open – he had to intervene to stop his father and his father-in-law from having a full-blown fight. 

5. Roland Jaeger argued with his daughter Andrea before she played in a Wimbledon Final against Martina Navratilova – and the teenager didn't give her best effort in the match. "I was missing balls on purpose," Jaeger would recall of the day she lost 6-0, 6-3. "I was hitting straight to Navratilova and when I was getting whipped 6-0 in the first set, I tried to look upset about it. I glanced up at my dad and he knew something was wrong." 

6. Tim Henman's father, Tony, was known for his stiff upper lip, his outer calm as his son played on Centre Court (whether he was so calm on the inside is a different matter). Two things you could expect from Tony Henman – he would wear a tie, and he would keep his emotions under control. 

7. No one could ever accuse Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, of thinking small. This is a man who once said he was "thinking now about buying the Rockefeller Centre". Richard had Venus and Serena working from a young age: "My kids were brought up working. Every kid in the house was working at two years old; Venus and Serena were delivering phone books. I taught my kids to be very, very independent. I didn't care who I upset. One day that kid would have to be on their own." 

8. Jelena Dokic's father, Damir, was escorted from the premises one summer after an altercation with a journalist, which ended with the bearded former wrestler stamping on the reporter's mobile telephone. 

9. Maria Sharapova would never have won Wimbledon if it had not been for the determination of her father Yuri, inspired by Martina Navratilova's words that his young daughter had talent. He had just a few hundred dollars in his pocket when he and Maria arrived in the United States, where he hoped she would have a Florida tennis education. It was a bold move, and it has paid off handsomely – she is the world's highest earning sportswoman. 

10. Judy Murray once described the feeling of watching her sons Andy and Jamie playing on Centre Court as being somewhere between seasickness and a heart attack. 


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