It’s a touching and familiar scene: a mom congratulating her son on his major achievement.
The novelty here is that Brandon Holt won his very first match in the main draw of the US Open—a feat his mother achieved several times, since she happens to be Tracy Austin.
That’s two-time US Open champion (1979, 1981) and former World No.1 (1980) Tracy Austin.
It’s impossible not to be moved by a daughter or son overcoming the inevitable pressures of being the child of an illustrious parent, especially when that child’s elected to play the same sport and set the same professional goals.
On that particular day, Brandon Holt went all in. The No.303 snagged his first win in the main draw of a Slam by eliminating none other than fellow American and No.10 Taylor Fritz in four sets (6-7(3), 7-6(1), 6-3, 6-4).
He got there as a qualifier with wins over No.143 Alexandre Muller (France), No.115 Emilio Gomez (Ecuador) and No.159 Dimitar Kuzmanov (Bulgaria).
At 24 years old, Holt isn’t a prodigy the likes of Carlos Alcaraz or Félix Auger-Aliassime, who won their first matches at the majors at a younger age, but don’t tell mama Tracy. To her, it’s as if her son had won every tournament in the same season.
So, what about the offspring who make it to the big leagues and go on to match—or even surpass—their parents?
Simply incredible. And the term isn’t too strong.
Still, not all parents want their kids to follow in their footsteps. Some, like the founders of the Graf-Agassi clan, even prefer they stay far, far away from their sport (more on them later).
For now, let’s take a look at a few kids who’ve chosen to join the family business.
MEET THE RUUDS
The Norwegian term for incredible is utrolig, and that’s certainly what Christian Ruud yelled when Casper won his first match and then his first ATP title. Just imagine if he rises to World No.1 and wins a Slam.
Christian’s 23-year-old son now has nine ATP titles—nine more than his father, whose record includes only one final and a career-high ranking of No.39. In June 2022, Casper peaked at No.5 and banked $8M prizemoney—$7M more than Christian ever did.
But Christian couldn’t care less about comparisons and stays involved in his son’s career as his coach.
KEEPING UP WITH THE KORDAS
There’s also Petr Korda and son Sebastian.
In 2018, Korda the Younger was already dazzling. The son of the 1998 AO champion even jumped up in the air just like his dad to celebrate winning the boys’ edition of the Slam in Melbourne.
“I never wanted my kids to play tennis,” Petr Korda said after Sebastian’s Australian triumph. “We’d love our kids to play other sports so they can set their own goals. If any one of our kids would follow our footsteps, the goals are already pre-set for them. It’s very difficult for the kids to get out of the shadow of that, and obviously they’re trying to beat their parents.”
But when Petr saw Sebastian’s passion for the sport, he understood his son could chart his own course.
ZVEREV FAMILY VALUES
Alexander Zverev of Russia is fortunate enough to have not one but two sons follow in his tennis footsteps.
Irina Zvereva is also a former pro. She coached her youngest until the age of 14 while her husband was on tour with their eldest.
There’s a ten-year age gap between Mischa and his brother Alexander, who’s had the most success on the courts. Still, the Zverevs can proudly say they produced two sons in the ATP Top 25, with Mischa climbing as high as No.25 and winning in Eastbourne in 2018.
Tennis legend Bjorn Borg is currently rooting for his 19-year-old son Leo, who’s trying to find his place on the ATP Tour.
The family resemblance is obvious, but their records couldn’t be more dissimilar.
Leo Borg collected his first ATP point in May 2021. It took him 10 months to get his hands on the next ones and bring his total to 28 as the No.710.
He’s found his way to three ITF semifinals ($15,000 and $25,000) and reached the quarters in Cairo, Egypt, on September 2.
Leo also had a brush with fame when he starred as a young Bjorn in the Borg vs McEnroe biopic (2017).
As you can see, there aren’t many children of tennis stars who’ve followed in their parents’ footsteps.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be more, especially since the current US Open is chock-full of second-generation players.
Randy Walker even tweeted about it.
GOMEZ AND GOMEZ
Ecuador’s leading ace Andrés Gomez won Roland-Garros in 1990, and his son Emilio competed in the main draw of the French Slam 30 years later, in 2020.
Emilio defeated Alexis Galarneau in the final of the Winnipeg Challenger on July 31.
BRYAN AND BRYAN AND BLAKE
As you’ve read, tennis families are mostly father and son duos.
But Tracy Austin isn’t alone. There’s also Kathy Blake.
The former American tennis player didn’t have the most brilliant tennis career, with just a few appearances in the early rounds of major tournaments (1966–1972), but when her sons Bob and Mike showed an interest in her sport, she made a point of having them play together, on the same side of the court, and taught them all the basics, tactics and tricks of doubles.
Little did Kathy know her boys would become the GOATS.
As the top men’s pair in the world (No.1, 2003), the Bryan bros took home 120 ATP titles, more than 15 Slams, a Davis Cup (2007), an Olympic gold medal (London 2012), plus a bunch of wins they secured separately.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Oleksandr and Alexandr Dolgopolov
Miloslav and Miloslav Mecir
Fred and Sandon Stolle
Phil and Taylor Dent
Christophe and Édouard Roger-Vasselin
Leif and Joachim Johansson
Ramanathan and Ramesh Krishnan
Those are all great stories, for sure.
There are also other stories that won’t be repeated on a tennis court but on another stage.
THE GRAF-AGASSIS: ALL IN THE FAMILY
Whenever there’s a parent–child success story in tennis, the Graf-Agassi children always come up.
With their combined 167 professional titles including 30 Grand Slams and Olympic gold medals, Jaden and Jaz’s parents should be dreaming of seeing their kids competing on the Wimbledon grass and raising prestigious trophies.
But Andre said no way.
“Tennis? I just think we’ve had enough, quite honestly,” he affirmed in an interview with Fox Sports. “It’s a weird sport. We don’t see too many second-generation players. For us, it’s about raising our children in a way we can share in their life and not always worry about their life.”
Jaden, who turns 21 in October, is a pitcher for the USC Trojans. Jaz prefers snowboarding.
And the family’s all the better for it.