“Here I was, at 6 … to get me out of the house, my mom put me at a local club to start playing tennis, and I loved it so much,” says Davenport, who’s now 40 and a mother of four. “I would go and play and I’d come home and hit against the garage and they’d yell at me to stop [because] it was too loud. Then my sisters would yell at me.
“I always feel so lucky because [being in tennis] just came by chance, and I got to find my true passion in life,” she adds.
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Source: Lindsay Davenport/Twitter
Though Davenport, who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014, admits being dedicated to one sport is important for serious competitors because “There’s just such a small percentage of athletes that make it to the highest level,” she’s still trying to keep her own children well-rounded.
One small problem? It seems like her oldest is already fine with specializing and not looking back.
“My 9-year-old plays tennis every day for many hours, but each season I make him do one team sport,” Davenport explains. “But he fights me on it. He doesn’t want to do it — he just wants to play tennis.
“But I’m not giving in yet,” she clarifies, laughing.
“You have to get creative with that,” Davenport tells water-polo player Ashleigh Johnson‘s mom Donna of the thought process behind encouraging kids to continue their involvement with a sport beyond the initial interest.
She also explains that just because she stuck with tennis doesn’t mean it was a natural thing to do — and that her own mom found a clever way around her daughter’s (temporary) rebellion.
“I remember my mom, one time … I said I wanted to quit,” says Davenport. “I was 14, probably top three or four in the nation. And [my mom was] like, ‘Okay, well then, tomorrow we’re going to water polo or basketball or [something else]. You’ve gotta do a sport.’
“I was like, ‘Well, no, no, I just want to stay home! I just want to [be] with my friends!’ ” she continues. “She was like, ‘No, you find a different sport then,’ and I was like, ‘Okay, tennis isn’t so bad.’ “
— Jen Juneau