© Ella Ling

Smashed racket

What happened to tennis's other nightmare fathers?

   
Marinko Lucic
What he did:
He would hit his daughter, Mirjana, to “help her concentrate”. “There have been more beatings than anyone can remember – sometimes because I lost a game, sometimes because I lost a set,” she has recalled. In an open letter to a Croatian newspaper, Marinko admitted that he had physically assaulted his daughter: “I never used excessive force, and if I did give her the occasional slap, that was because of her behaviour. I did what I believed to be best for the child.” There were suggestions that Marinko’s wife had eye surgery after a domestic incident.
The outcome:
Mirjana Lucic fled to the United States with her mother and siblings.
 
Mike Agassi
What he did:
“Violent by nature, my father is forever preparing for battle,” Andre Agassi recalled in his book, Open. “He shadowboxes constantly. He keeps an axe handle in his car. He leaves the house with a handful of salt and pepper in each pocket, in case he’s in a street fight and he needs to blind someone.” For Agassi senior, a former Olympic boxer, road rage meant holding a gun level with his son’s nose as he waved at a driver who had irritated him. Mike Agassi’s rage was also directed at his son if he dared to cut short a training session. Andre Agassi recalled how, as a seven-year-old, he had known that if he were to walk off the court, “my father would chase me around the house”. Mike had decided that his son would be a tennis player: Andre would learn to hate tennis, and to hate it with dark and secret passion.
The outcome:
Mike Agassi remained a part of his son’s life, and on a visit to Las Vegas he brawled with Peter Graf, Steffi’s father. He now considers that Andre should have played golf, rather than tennis, as there would have been more money in it.
 
Arsalan Rezai
What he did:
During Aravane Rezai’s junior career, her father had a reputation for being something of a bully. Arsalan Rezai and the other tennis dads did not get along, and the French Tennis Federation were once so concerned about the possibility of violence at a junior tournament that they hired bodyguards. The problems continued into her senior career, and during the 2011 Australian Open, Arsalan had a heated confrontation with his daughter’s boyfriend.
The outcome:
During the grand slam in Melbourne, the Women’s Tennis Association announced that a family member, believed to be her father, had been banned from tennis. Later that year, she walked into a police station in France to file a complaint against her father for “harassment, intentional violence and death threats”, and the French media further reported that she accused him of “swindling her out of tens of thousands of euros”.
 
Stefano Capriati
What he did:
“Where I come from, we have a proverb: ‘when the apple is ripe, eat it’. Jennifer is ripe,” Stefano, a former boxer and film stuntman, once said of his daughter, a child prodigy who got burned by her early promise. As she once said to her father: “Leave me alone, you’re screwing up my life.” She was not allowed to have a normal childhood; she was supposed to be playing tennis. 
The outcome:
She rebelled, leading that to that infamous Dade County mugshot after her arrest for possession of marijuana and shoplifting. She ditched him as her coach, only to then reinstate him as she made her comeback, a return which brought her three grand slam titles.
 
Jim Pierce
What he did:
“If you think there was a nut in Waco, Texas, you haven’t seen anything yet,” he once told his daughter Mary, before threatening her life, according to a court document. The story everyone always tells about Jim Pierce is how he once screamed out during a match: “Go on, Mary, kill the bitch”, but what is often forgotten is how he fought one of his daughter’s bodyguards. “He [the bodyguard] ran away and then came back, so I put him down and kept punching him,” Jim Pierce has admitted. “I tell you, that guy must have liked being hit.”
The outcome:
Mary took out a restraining order against her father. The Women’s Tennis Association banned him from attending all her matches, and also introduced a regulation, which became known as the ‘Jim Pierce Rule’, which prohibited a player’s friends, family and coaches from abusive conduct.