From a young age, Andy Roddick stormed the tennis world with his devastating power serve. Before he was 20 years old, the power server had already competed against the big names of the day. Tennis fans alternately praised him as a phenom and derided him as a hot-head.
Roddick was a regular fixture for columnists fretting over the direction of the game, similar to Nick Kyrgios today. The pressure, criticism, and conditioning made his daily life a stressful experience. It’s not something Roddick wants for his children, nor does he think young players should be treated the same way today.
Andy Roddick’s quick rise to tennis stardom
Roddick came from a relatively middle-class background, reports ESPN. His older brother’s interest in tennis and success in regional circuits encouraged the family to invest in the sport. Roddick followed suit, picking up the sport when they relocated to Boca Raton, Florida, so his brother could access better tennis trainers.
Roddick’s quick rise nearly plateaued. He had a run of losses in Junior tennis. At just 17, he thought he hit his ceiling. One of his trainers pushed him to instead go the other way: dedicate everything to tennis. He followed that advice, and a year later he defeated fourth overall ranked Pete Sampras — a Wimbledon winner — at the 2001 Miami Masters.
He won the 2003 US Open, which became the height of his career. It remains the last time an American won the event. He remained a top-flight talent, regularly making Grand Slam finals. But his nemesis Roger Federer defeated Roddick each of the four times they met in a final. At just 30, he’d had enough of the game, and retired for good, as the New York Times reports.
Roddick’s mixed feelings over entering pro athletics so early
Coco Gauff took Wimbledon by storm in 2018. The 14-year-old found herself dropped into the top levels of her sport after demolishing all comers at the Junior level. She didn’t rush to pro tennis; she simply had nowhere else to go. Gauff earned her spot, and her defeat of Venus Williams proved she earned a place in the tennis world.
Roddick worries about this quick rise to international prominence. “I hope people have a level of patience with her,” Roddick said in an interview with Metro UK. “She is 15 years old so in my perfect world I don’t know I’d like to see her on Arthur Ashe Stadium first night out of the gate.”
He doesn’t criticize Gauff for going where her abilities demand her to. Instead, his circumspect attitude seems directed at tennis fans and the media. “I hope people give her a little bit of space to grow and take her steps,” the former power-serving pro said. “It’ll be nice if there is some assistance […] as opposed to just putting her front and center.”
What Andy Roddick and wife Brooklyn Decker hope for their kids
Roddick’s experiences as a teenager playing international tennis, receiving all of that attention, shaped how he raises his own children. His wife, Grace and Frankie actress Brooklyn Decker, shares his philosophy. In an interview with The Local Moms Network, she laid out the couple’s stance.
“[…] We would never push our kids into one sport,” Decker said. “Exposing them to as many as possible is the way to do it.” She also drew a connection to her own experiences as a professional model and actress. The stress tied up in not knowing when or where your next job might come from is not one she wants to intentionally push her children into.
The pair align nicely on the topic. Tennis fans might be disappointed to find that Roddick and Decker aren’t raising their children to be the second coming of Andy. Their young kids aren’t interested at all in athletics just yet, according to US Magazine. And that’s likely the sort of expectation from the public that Roddick wants young people to avoid — even active professional tennis players like Gauff.