Kate keen to teach Prince George tennis

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Media captionThe duchess wore black tracksuit bottoms as she joined a children’s tennis session

The Duchess of Cambridge has said she is teaching Prince George to play tennis – but admits her four-year-old son “only wants to whack the ball”.

Catherine, a huge tennis fan who is patron of the Lawn Tennis Association, told LTA coach Sam Richardson of her attempts to encourage George.

Mr Richardson told her it was better to wait for children “to show interest”.

The duchess, on a visit to the national tennis centre, said she had also sought tips from Andy Murray’s mother Judy.

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Image caption The duchess practised tennis drills with a group of children during her visit to the national tennis centre

The duchess is a regular spectator at Wimbledon, which is just three miles from the national tennis centre – and perhaps has an eye on a move from its royal box to a seat in the players’ family box in the years ahead.

Mr Richardson revealed: “She asked what kind of stuff George should be doing [at his age].

“He is interested in tennis but, being four, he just wants to whack the ball.”

He added: “She said she had also spoken to Judy Murray, who advised her to take the racket away and just focus on skills.”

Mrs Murray famously began teaching tennis skills to sons Andy and Jamie using balloons over the sofa, and encouraged them to play swing ball in the garden.

She is now the mother of two players who have won multiple grand slam titles on the singles and doubles circuits respectively – and led Great Britain to Davis Cup glory.

Too much too young?

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Image caption From left to right: British tennis aces Andy Murray, Johanna Konta and Tim Henman

The Murrays are not the only family to begin teaching their children at a young age.

Current world number one Rafael Nadal started training with his uncle Toni when he was four and by the age of eight had won an under-12 regional championship.

Former British number one Tim Henman, along with his brothers Michael and Richard, played on the family grass tennis court as soon as he was able to walk.

And Britain’s top-ranked female player Johanna Konta said she first started playing tennis when she was eight.

But Jennifer Capriati, who reached the French Open semi-final aged just 14, is arguably the most prodigious of the lot. Her sporty parents claim they started giving her tennis instruction when she was still a toddler, having decided she would be a tennis star “when she was in the womb”.

Two-time Wimbledon winner and two-time Olympic champion Andy Murray, who now has two children, has spoken of his family’s sacrifices to encourage him and his brother in the sport.

He told the BBC in 2016, the year he won his second Wimbledon crown, that his parents had “been through a lot of the ups and downs… so we have a lot to thank them for.”

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Image caption Murray, pictured here age 17 in 2004, says his mother Judy has sacrificed a lot to support him

Like Mrs Murray, the Duchess of Cambridge is an avid tennis fan. She recently told the BBC of her love of Wimbledon – saying that on her first visit, she queued with crowds of fans to see the tournament.

She said: “The atmosphere there is incredible – whether you’re sitting on Henman Hill or fortunate enough to be in one of the ground courts.

The duchess became LTA patron in January, taking over from the Queen, who had served 64 years in the role.

Image copyright PA

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