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Bookies bank on babies

London: Rose Elizabeth Henman had barely taken her first breath last weekend before British bookmakers offered odds of 250-1 on her chances of one day winning Wimbledon.

Although her father, world No. 9 Tim Henman, has yet to achieve Wimbledon glory, baby Roseís every move will be scrutinised for at least the next two decades should she chose to pick up a tennis racket.

The arrival of Jaden Gil ó the son of Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi ó caused great excitement last year and a fascinated media hailed him as a future Wimbledon champion even before he was born.

Pete Sampras and Goran Ivanisevic are set to join Henman and Agassi in the joys of parenthood soon. But while Henman & Co. can look forward to combining nappy-changing duties with their hectic schedules, the chances are that their new bundles of joy will fail to live up to the publicís expectation.

Many sporting offspring have followed in their mother or fatherís footsteps but rarely have they surpassed, or even equalled, the achievements of their high-flying parent.

French and US Open champion Fred Stolleís son Sandon tried to make his mark on the menís circuit for more than a decade but accomplished only limited success. American Taylor Dent is another player trying to live up to his father Philís reputation. Phil ó who played for Australia ó was runner-up to Jimmy Connors in the 1974 Australian Open.

In recent years, doubles specialist Helena Sukova is among a minority that has managed to break the mould. Her mother Vera, who later coached Martina Navratilova, reached the Wimbledon singles final in 1962. Helena battled her way through to four Grand Slam runner-up spots and won many doubles titles.

The pressure to emulate the achievements of a parent can dissuade most children from following the same path. Their every move is examined and compared with their parentís records, a heavy burden to carry.

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