In light of the recent news that Roger Federer is once more a father to a set of twins – this time two baby boys – many are now taking bets on the likelihood that his four children will follow in his footsteps and have glittering tennis futures of their own. With two girls and two boys, there a multiple possibilities on which to base these predictions covering all of the main formats in competitive tennis, from singles to doubles and mixed doubles.
In the most far-fetched of these bets, the British bookmaker, Ladbrokes, is offering 10,000 – 1 odds that all four of Federer’s children will meet in the Wimbledon mixed doubles final. In ever so slightly less fantastical scenarios, they are also offering 100-1 odds that any of the twins will manage to gain a Wimbledon singles title. For some reason the odds are better for the chances of two of the four to win a Wimbledon’s doubles title, at 33-1, in either the mens or womens doubles or any pairing in the mixed competition. To put this in perspective, these are the same odds for Radwanska to win at Roland Garros this year, and Andy Murray actually has worse odds for his chances of taking home the French title. While enthusiasm is all well and good, this does seem excessively hopeful and just a tad premature as the two young boys are only a few days old.
Born on Tuesday, Federer had pulled out of the Madrid Masters earlier that day in anticipation of his new sons arrival. He introduced Lenny and Leo to the world via Twitter and stated that he and his wife Mirka were “incredibly happy”. In the past, he has been adamant that he would not think twice about missing a tournament in order to be present at the birth of his children, a promise he made good on this week. Yet the fact that the babies have been born a reasonable time before the start of the French Open also has an impact on the likelihood of Federer competing in the tournament this year, as his involvement had been questioned due to potentially being too busy as a new father. Although it has not been confirmed that he will play, the early arrival of his two boys will give fans hope in this regard, although it seems inevitable that he will forgo the upcoming competition in Rome.
The two boys join their four year old twin sisters, Myla and Charlene, to make up a remarkable and extremely rare family. Given that their father has earned 17 Grand Slam titles during his incredible tennis career and their mother was also a talented player (the two met while competing in the Olympics), the children certainly have a good gene pool to begin with. However, it seems unlikely that even one of them will manage to replicate his success, let alone all four, despite the bets being taken on the potential future any of the Federer twins may have in the tennis world. It is also interesting to note that it is now more likely, according to the bookmakers, that one of the children will win Wimbledon than it is for the royal couple of tennis to produce another set of twins.
Also while the sport is filled with various successful sibling combinations, from the Williams sisters, the McEnroe brothers, the Murray brothers and various others over time, there is often less of a continuation between generations. Successful tennis players rarely go on to have children follow in their footsteps. However, the Federers do have better odds than previous tennis star progeny, as Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf’s first child was given 500-1 odds of winning a title, while the legendary Pete Sampras had a child with 150-1 odds. Perhaps this is because Federer is often touted as the greatest tennis player of all time, the bet makers have taken a shine to his children, or maybe they think that having already defied the odds by having two sets of twins they must be destined for greatness? Either way, if the bets currently being taken do pay off and Federer’s two sets of twins see their future in the world of tennis, it would be an unprecedented result in more ways than one.
Commentary by Rhona Scullion