Many times, professional athletes finish out the prime of their career before settling down to raise a family. But John Isner has it both ways.
The tennis superstar completed the best season of his career in 2018, a year in which he also bought a house in Highland Park with his wife, Madison, and became a father for the first time.
Isner, 33, said such personal triumphs could be linked to his professional success. The 6-foot-10 right-hander wrapped up the season as the top-ranked American men’s tennis player, after earning his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Miami and reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon.
“The timing of it has been perfect — the transition from us getting married, to moving to Dallas, to now starting a family while I’m still playing,” he said. “That’s a huge reason why I played pretty well. I’ve worked out hard my whole career, but there’s something to be said for being very balanced personally and at ease. We’re so happy.”
“That’s a huge reason why I played pretty well. I’ve worked out hard my whole career, but there’s something to be said for being very balanced personally and at ease.” – John Isner
The couple met in 2011 at a tennis tournament in Houston, where he was playing, and she was a spectator attending with some college friends. They reconnected in London a few months later, when Madison — a Highland Park High School graduate — happened to visit during Wimbledon.
They dated long distance for six years, with John based in Florida and Madison primarily in Austin, before getting engaged (also in London). After they were married in December 2017, the Isners settled down in the Park Cities in part because it better fit John’s travel and training schedule than his home state of North Carolina.
Since their daughter, Hunter Grace, was born in September, Madison has been on maternity leave from her successful Western jewelry company.
“It makes me want to work harder for her, just to show what women can do — have a family and still work at the same time,” Madison said. “And we travel so much.”
John was able to skip a few international tournaments to spend time with Madison and Hunter in the fall. Then the baby attended her first tennis tournament at the season-ending ATP Finals in November in London.
After some downtime during the holidays, the busy 2019 season ramps up in January with the Australian Open. Madison and Hunter hope to be there cheering.
“It’s always going to be difficult leaving them if they’re not traveling with me,” John said. “As I get older, I think it’s smarter to schedule better. That’s to preserve my mind and body. Staying home is an added benefit of that.”