But on the newest episode of PEOPLE’s Mom Talk, she admits that she wasn’t always so dedicated.
“I remember my mom, one time … I said I wanted to quit,” says the former tennis superstar, now 40. “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!’ ” Davenport adds. ” ‘I just want to [be] with my friends!’ “
For more of PEOPLE‘s Olympic coverage, pick up our collector’s edition, The Best of the Games, on sale now.
Davenport quickly realized tennis “isn’t so bad” when her mom gave her the choice between that and another sport. And originally, her folks actually thought she’d go in a different direction.
“My parents always figured, ‘She’ll be a volleyball player’ — I have two older sisters [who played],” she shares. “But you didn’t start volleyball then until you were, like, 9 or 10.”
The mother of four also notes that her mom and dad wanted to start her in a sport earlier to “get her out of the house” at 6 years old.
“My mom put me at a local club to start playing tennis, and I loved it so much,” she recalls. “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.”
— Jen Juneau