Madison Keys' Mom Made A Huge Sacrifice For Her Daughter's Tennis Career

madison and christine keys
About Madison Keys' Parents, Rick & Christine Keys@madisonkeys

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Madison Keys has a big cheering section, including her coach and fiancé Bjorn Fratangelo. But there are two people who are always in her corner: parents Rick and Christine Keys.

Madison, who's currently ranked No. 20 in the world, is hoping to bring home her first singles title of the year in the Madrid Open, which began on April 22. But who raised the Illinois-born tennis pro, and what do her parents do for a living now? Here’s everything to know about Rick and Madison Keys, plus the rest of Madison's family.

Her dad was an athlete, just like Madison.

Madison’s dad, Rick, also has a background in sports. He played Division III college basketball at Augustana College, graduating in 1986.

But even though he's an athlete as well, Rick had no problem handing the coaching reigns over to the pros.

“The key is to find the right people," he told Vavel in 2015, pointing to Madison's training at Evert Academy in Florida. "You have to be smart and get a little lucky.”

Her parents are attorneys.

Rick is a partner at Keys Law Offices in Rock Island County, Illinois. He’s been there for nearly a decade, according to his LinkedIn. He specializes in personal injury claims and criminal defense, per his company website.

Christine is also a lawyer, according to her LinkedIn. She used to work alongside her husband, but retired and moved the family to Florida to support Madison’s career, per the United States Tennis Association (USTA).

a group of people on a beach
Madison, Christine, and Hunter Keys.United States Tennis Association

“I have to take care of business here, which was something Christine and I used to do together,” Rick told Vavel. “Her role in Florida was mother, chauffeur, cook, support team, school etc. Mostly on her own. We both had to make sacrifices and take on significant roles to make it work.”

Madison is one of four siblings: She has an older sister named Sydney, along with younger sisters Montana and Hunter. But none of them were interested in tennis like Madison.

They encouraged her to pursue tennis.

Madison first became interested in the sport at just 4 years old, after she watched Venus Williams rock a stylish tennis dress in Wimbledon. According to Rick, she picked up a racquetball racket and went to work.

“All she did was try to hit balls into the next yard—home runs,” he told the New York Times in 2011. “She liked dresses and she wanted one. I don’t know if you can really say that Venus inspired her to play.”

The family ended up heading to the Evert Academy in Boca Raton, Florida, where Madison trained. “The bottom line is that this would not have happened if we couldn’t afford it,” Rick added, noting that he and his wife could pay the tuition thanks to their attorney salaries. “You always hear people talk about how we’re not getting the athletes into the sport, but no one ever steps up and says that money has a hell of a lot to do with it."

They’re her biggest fans.

Rick and Christine have cheered Madison on throughout her professional career, which has spanned over 15 years. Christine frequently visits her daughter in her Orlando home, and the two have taken road trips back and forth to Boca Raton.

But you may not always see Madison's mom in the crowd, especially since she gets anxious watching her daughter play. "I don’t get nervous as long as I can move my foot," she told the Quad-City Times in 2016. "If you make me sit still, I get nervous, but if I can wiggle my foot or move, I’m fine."

The two have even given advice to other parents of athletes, telling them to make sure their kids always enjoy the sport.

“If you are too hard on your kids, you will bully them out of the sport,” Rick said, per Vavel. “It’s a long journey and it’s got to be enjoyable or the flame will fade away. Encourage, support and teach the values and ethics that every parent passes on but not through force. Patience is the key and the hard work will seem like just a necessary ingredient to reach your goals. Settle in and enjoy the process.”

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