By Sherida Mock
As a professional tennis player, Andy Roddick reached the highest point of his sport: he was once ranked number one in the world, and he claims a Grand Slam singles championship among his many achievements. After a long and stellar career, he retired in 2012 and returned to Austin (where he lived from age 4 to 11) with his wife, model and actress Brooklyn Decker.
But Roddick’s “retirement” just means he hustles in a different way. He still plays competitively in the PowerShares circuit. He was recently inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. And closer to home, he steers the Andy Roddick Foundation, which provides opportunities for kids to grow through after-school and summer programs. Roddick recently let us catch up with him as he navigated a very busy summer.
AF: Tell us about your family.
Roddick: We proudly live in Austin, and I’m happy to call this city home. My wife, Brooklyn, and I have been married 8 years and had our son, Hank, in September 2015. We are expecting a daughter by the end of this year. We also have two canine members of the family: Billie Jean and Bob Costas.
AF: Congratulations on your induction into the Hall of Fame. How did you get the news?
Roddick: I was told in confidence about a year ago that I would be nominated. From there, it went to a vote of select media members and people currently in the Hall of Fame. I didn’t find out the result of that vote for about four months after I knew I was up for it. It seemed like forever! Then I had to keep a secret for another two months before they announced it publicly that I had been voted in … I’m not good at secrets. [laughs] I have been very humbled by the entire process. It’s the ultimate honor in our sport.
AF: You launched the Andy Roddick Foundation early in your career—when you were 18. What prompted you to get started so soon?
Roddick: I am lucky to be in the sport of tennis. The legends of our sport have been just as dynamic with the causes they’re passionate about away from the courts. Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer. The list goes on. They’ve made a culture of giving back in our sport. I was lucky to learn a lot from people like Andre and Billie Jean. They inspired me to start at a young age.
AF: Your foundation received E3’s Architect of Change award earlier this year. What does that mean to you?
Roddick: It’s obviously a huge honor for us! E3 has been a great sounding board for us throughout the years. It’s nice to have validation for executing on our vision and plan. I’m also really happy for our staff. They deserve this recognition. Some of the best people I’ve ever known, and they should hold their heads even higher with this award.
AF: Let’s talk about your foundation’s programs. What activities are offered?
Roddick: The Foundation’s after school and summer programs extend and broaden learning possibilities and put kids face-to-face with a broad range of local professionals, from scientists, chefs and artists, to politicians and financial advisors during “Career Field Trips,” to places such as Austin City Hall and PricewaterhouseCoopers. We had Keith Kreeger, an artist who makes this amazing pottery and has his dinnerware in a lot of the major restaurants in town, come out and do a workshop with the kids. One of them looked at Keith and said, “I can’t believe you actually can have a job doing this!” That’s the moment we want.
AF: What do these programs do for kids?
Roddick: The Foundation’s programs create new chances for kids to grow in literacy, STEM, art and sports, as well as socially and emotionally––all during months and times of day when statistics show they’re typically most at risk of falling behind.
AF: What did tennis do for you?
Roddick: As a kid, it was huge for my self-esteem! To be good at something that I was passionate about was very, very lucky for me. We are trying to recreate the moment that I first had with tennis, for the kids in our program. It doesn’t have to be tennis at all. We would love to have our kids have that moment where something just makes sense to them and inspires joy and passion. That’s what I felt when I first had a tennis racket in my hand.
AF: What sort of feedback have you received on the programs?
Roddick: Our feedback has been amazing. One thing that I probably undersold as far as importance when we were starting out was how important our programs are for the parents as well! To have the peace of mind that your child is not only safe, but enriched while you are providing is a big deal. Throw in the fact that our parents can work a longer day because they’re not worried about having to get to their kids by 3 p.m. for pickup, and the whole family wins. Parents can work a longer day to provide, and the kids are being enriched by the program.
AF: Any memorable moments with the kids?
Roddick: Every time I see one of the kids in our program smile, it’s a memorable moment for me. I’m just honored to be a part of their lives.