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tennishead 10s: Top tennis-playing parents

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Originally published on: 24/03/10 14:40

In Miami this week ahead of an assault at his third Sony Ericsson Open title, Roger Federer revealed that being a father helps his tennis. “The marriage and kids inspire me,” beamed the 16-time Grand Slam champion to the ever-captivated assembly of reporters in Key Biscayne.

“All of a sudden, I have children depending on me. It’s not all about me anymore,” added the Swiss.

We’re pretty sure it’ll always be about you Fed, but even so, the ultimate Daddy cool has inspired us to seek out ten tennis-playing parents. Imagine uttering the words ‘Fancy a hit Dad/Mum?’ to this prestigious bunch…

1) Roger Federer
The world No.1 has managed to successfully continue his dominance in spite of the birth of his two children. “The press started asking questions because a father hasn’t won much before, but I am a master at blocking stuff out on the court,” said Federer this week. And after his wife Mirka gave birth to twin girls – Myla Rose and Charlene Riva – in July 2009, Federer is more relaxed than ever, and plans to stick around long enough for his kids to watch him on court. “Hopefully, they can see me play, that was important to Mirka. My life feels very balanced now, and my perspective changed,” he added.

Perhaps a son next then Rog?

2) Stanislas Wawrinka
Somewhat overshadowed by ‘that other’ Swiss tennis player, the 24-year-old – who reached a career-high No.9 ranking in 2008 – has 61 fewer titles than the imperious Federer. But Lausanne-born Wawrinka marginally lags behind his countryman in the fatherhood stakes, with only one less child to his name. Daughter Alexia was born on February 12th this year, hence why the world No.23 has not played – nor slept – much since.

3) Kim Clijsters
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world, being a mother,” Kim Clijsters told the Athur Ashe stadium crowd before lapping up the second greatest feeling in the world in claiming her second US Open title. There to celebrate was 18-month old daughter Jada, who lapped up the limelight on court after her mother’s remarkable victorious return to the game.

4) Lleyton Hewitt
Formerly engaged to Clijsters, the former world No.1 also started a family – with Aussie actress wife Bec Cartwright. His daughter Mia Rebecca was born in November 2005, and son Cruz, reportedly named after Lleyton’s favourite Christina Aguilera song (we’re trying hard not to judge…) followed in December 2008.

5) Ivan Ljubicic
The rejuvinated Croat has a one-year-old son with wife Aida, and though he failed to build on the form that saw him finish 2006 in the top five for the first time in his career, Ljubicic is back in top-nick. Rather than being sidetracked by his young son Leonardo, Ljubicic has achieved a bit of a renaissance in recent times, climaxing last week with his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells after he defeated three top ten players – Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick – for the title.

6) Peter Luczak
Defeated by Rafael Nadal in the first round of the Australian Open, the 30-year-old world No.75 has bowed out in the first round of six of the eight tournaments he has featured in this year. That said, after the birth of his son Sebastian in 2006, the Australian’s fortunes took a turn for the better, and he went on to crack the top 100 for the first time. Since the arrival of daughter Millie last March, he rose to a career-high No.64 in the world.

7) Taylor Dent
American Taylor Dent was himself a product of tennis-playing parents; father Phil reached the Australian Open final in 1974, while mother Betty was a former top 10 player in the US. Former world No.21 Dent perhaps would have come close to replicating his father’s achievements were it not for a recurring back injury in 2006 that saw him forced to wear a full body cast for six months. But the 28-year-old is now experiencing happier times, and the owner of the fourth fastest serve on the planet welcomed a third generation of tennis-playing potential in to the world in January, when wife Jenny gave birth to a boy days after Dent had exited the Australian Open at the hands of Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.

8) Michael Llodra
The veteran Frenchman won his fourth career title at February’s Marseille Open after knocking out world No.8 Robin Soderling in the quarter-finals. There to celebrate his victory over countryman Julien Benneteau was six-year old daughter Manon, and two-year-old son Teo, who also watched their Pop team up with Benneteau for the doubles title.

9) Fabrice Santoro
Thirty-seven-year-old ‘magician’ Fabrice Santoro brought an end to his 21-year-career at this year’s Australian Open in order to spend less time on planes and in hotels and more time with his nine-year-old daughter Djenae. The Frenchman won six titles during his career – and after winning his first Newport title in 2007, he gave his trophy to Djenae, who promptly gave it pride of place in her bedroom.

10) Sybille Bammer
Other than Clijsters, the 29-year-old Austrian is the only other mother in the top 100 on the WTA tour, having given birth to daughter Tina at the tender age of 21. After returning to the game, at 23, she broke into the top 150 in the world for the first time, and climbed to a career-high No.17 ranking in 2007 after winning the Pattaya Women’s Open. Tina regularly frequents her matches, and Bammer says of her daughter, “She is always telling other people to be quiet because Mummy is concentrating.”

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