Last week the BBC reported a story about a French tennis coach named Christophe Fauviau who had admitted drugging a number of his children’s opponents before matches.
The 46 year old was sentenced to eight years in prison after being charged with manslaughter when one of the drugged players – Alexandre Lagardere died in a car crash after a match with Fauviau’s son, due to his intoxicated state.
Fauviau’s children Maxime, 16, and Valentine, 13, were apparently unaware of their father’s actions.
Valentine, who is in France’s top 10 for her age group, pleaded with the court to show mercy to her father, saying he did what he did out of love.
“My father never wanted to do anyone any harm. Alexandre’s death really destroyed him,” she told Le Parisien newspaper. “There are many parents who push their children and go a little mad because of tennis.”
An incredible story, and although this is an extreme case of the dreaded ’tennis parent’ it merely contributes to the growing list of insane actions from tennis relations to ensure the success of their children.
It is not a new phenomenon.
Legends of the game could not escape overpowering relatives: Suzanne Lenglen, whose father Chris frequently gave her strict training and Jimmy Connors’ mother Gloria, would frequently shout from the stands.
However, it is the modern game that has some real tyrants; the resurgent Mary Pierce’s father Jim frequently hurled abuse at his daughter’s opponents. Once he even shouted: “Mary kill the bitch”. Jim Pierce also attacked the French star’s bodyguard in 1993 saying afterwards: “He ran away and then came back, so I put him down again and I kept on punching him. I tell ya, that guy must’ve liked being hit”.
There is Yuri Sharapov, Maria Sharapova’s father and probably the most hated man on the tour: I’ll be the first to say that the man is detestable, even more so than the screaming slogger Sharapova. It is a rumour that Yuri secretly coaches his daughter with hand signals during the match, and joins his daughter in shouting constantly during and after points and at opponents mistakes.
Sharapov is little more than a nuiscance however when we look at the worst of all, Damir Dokic (pictured). Jelena Dokic, former world number four and darling of the tour a few years ago, is now languishing at 416 in the rankings. Much of her recent slump has been due to off court issues, nearly all involving her father who has in the past, drunkenly accused officials of being Nazis, and Australian Open officials of fixing the draw deliberately to his daughter’s disadvantage.
Most recently, after his daughter reclaimed herself Australian as opposed to Serbian, Damir threatened to bomb the country and kill an Australian in protest:
“I have thought about dropping a nuclear bomb on Sydney since Jelena lost in the first round this week, for which Australia is to blame. I have even thought about killing an Australian in revenge, but I wouldn’t gain anything from it.”
Thanks to the Guardian for the info and quotes.