What do Serena Williams, Andre Agassi and Mary Pierce have in common? They all were the products of obsessive — even sociopathic — fathers and, more to the point, they enjoyed the kind of success no up-and-coming American tennis prodigy can currently boast. And maybe that's not a coincidence.
In an essay for Slate, Huan Hsu recommends that the USTA halt its implementation of a fancy-schmancy player development system and instead, invest in what precedent has proven successful: crazy tennis parents. The nuttier, the better. Find people like Richard Williams, who hid his wife's birth control pills, and Jim Pierce, he of "Kill the bitch!" and Mike Agassi, who dangled tennis balls over poor Andre in the crib. There's something about obsession that makes a tennis player particularly valuable, and when the tennisista is too young to understand how deeply he must crave championships, parents can instill that passion.
There are plenty of perfectly batty parents overseas — Damir Dokic, in particular, comes to mind — but, for whatever reason, their lunacy doesn't necessarily result in greatness. After all, there are really only two players in tennis that matter. Neither is American, and neither has parents who threaten to drop a nuclear bomb on their home cities — or, you know, anything like that.
Why insane parents are the only way to end America's tennis draught [Slate]