The Kordas are not your average Bradenton family. The family's lineage of athletic stardom begins with former professional tennis player Petr Korda. Originally from Prague, Korda achieved the ranking of No. 2 in the world in the 1990s. In 1998, he won the Australian Open, one of the major Grand Slam tournaments. He married Regina Rojchrtová, also a former pro, who achieved a No. 26 ranking and competed on the U.S. Olympic tennis team in 1988. The pair had three children—Jessica, 28, Nelly, 22, and Sebastian, 21—who are following in their parents' talented footsteps.
The Korda sisters have been playing golf their entire lives, starting on local turf. Both have played at Bobby Jones Golf Club and IMG Academy Golf Club (formerly El Conquistador Golf Course). In June, Nelly achieved the No. 1 ranking on the LPGA tour. Jessica, who has been playing on the tour since 2011, is ranked No. 13. The pair are set to compete on the U.S. Olympic golf team at the 2021 Tokyo Games.
Younger brother Sebastian began playing golf with his sisters, but at age 9, switched to tennis. This choice has paid off.
Sebastian is the youngest American male tennis player to make the top 100 ranking in the Association of Tennis Players, or ATP. He grew up under the tutelage of his father, training on the courts of Bradenton's world-renowned IMG Academy. His professional debut began at age 18, when he competed in the New York Open in 2018. His powerful serve, wide court coverage (he's 6-foot-5-inches) and strategic game led him to Wimbledon this July.
Viewed as the American underdog going into the tournament, he wowed current and former pros and the public with his game.
"I'll say it in no uncertain terms—this is our best American prospect in a long, long time," said tennis player Andy Roddick in a Tennis Channel broadcast during Wimbledon.
Korda made it to the fourth round of the grass court tournament, where he lost to Russian player Karen Khachanov in a record-breaking match—most service breaks (13) in a fifth set, which lasted over one hour.
It has been a long time since an American tennis player has made it that far at Wimbledon. Pro Sam Querrey made it to the finals four years ago, and John Isner made it to the semifinals in 2018. Despite his loss, Korda is now ranked No. 47 in the world.
"I just stayed calm in the biggest moments as much as I could. I stayed relaxed, played attacking tennis as much as I could, and I'm really proud of myself," Korda said in an interview with The Guardian on July 2, after his final Wimbledon match. "I have my family to thank and my coaches, too. My dad won a grand slam, my sister [Nelly] just won her first major golf tournament and is No. 1 in the world. It's super exciting; it's crazy."
Upon his return to home, the Korda family has soaked up their newfound fame. Major news outlets, including The New York Times, Forbes and the BBC, have highlighted their achievements, close-knit nature and the kids' relationship with their determined dad and coach, Petr. In a phone call, Petr told us Sebastian is "laying low and resting after coming from back-to-back international tournaments," and that "he's honored and excited for all of his children and their achievements."
"My dad, he's super happy, but he also sees the mistakes that I make during a match and he lets me know right away," Korda said in a New York Times interview. "That's probably one of the best things about my dad. He's always pretty straightforward and he tells you how it is. He doesn't sugarcoat it."
Petr has been planning his children's athletic success since their days training on the golf courses and tennis courts of IMG. The family's career agent, Patricio Avery, describes Petr as "half-genius, half-crazy," and that "he predicted his children would all achieve success in their careers around the same time."
While Nelly and Jessica prepare for the Tokyo Games starting Friday, July 30, Sebastian will be training in Bradenton for the U.S. Open, a Grand Slam tennis tournament in New York City, beginning August 30, 2021.