The Kordas Take Their Sister Act to Scotland
The siblings are Solheim Cup teammates
By 2010, it was clear that the daughters of a men’s tennis pro from the Czech Republic would become great golfers. But while three of Ivan Lendl’s daughters racked up amateur titles, starred for college powerhouses, and garnered media attention, none of them made it to the LPGA tour.
Instead, Jessica and Nelly Korda, the offspring of Petr, emerged to become top players. Now, Jessica, 26, and Nelly, 21, from Bradenton, Florida, will become only the second pair of sisters to play in the Solheim Cup (Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam were the first). Each has won on tour (Jessica five times, Nelly two) and taken up residency in the top 20 of the world rankings.
As the Sept. 13 start of the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles Resort in Scotland approached, the pair took a few questions. Their answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Mom and Dad were pro tennis players and your younger brother, Sebastian, is a top junior. How did you two end up as golfers?
Nelly: Everybody asks us that! When my dad retired, he took up playing golf and Jess was playing with him, too, so I just followed in their footsteps, wanting to join in their fun. We played loads of sports growing up—we love all sports, for sure, and did gymnastics, skiing, a bit of tennis, and even figure skating—but we loved golf the most.
You’re the Australian Open family—two in tennis (Petr won in ’98; Sebastian won the junior Open in ’18) and two in golf (Jessica in ’12, Nelly in ’19). Do you guys wish this event were held Down Under instead of in the Highlands?
Jessica: We are all big fans of Australia, for sure; I love that we have all won there, and it does make Australia very special to us. But I can’t tell you how much we are looking forward to heading over to Scotland and playing at Gleneagles. I remember watching the Ryder Cup when it was played there in 2014 and thinking how beautiful it looked and how much I wanted to play there. I think it is going to be a totally awesome arena for the Solheim Cup, and the Scottish fans are going to be all out for Captain Beany [Catriona Matthew of Scotland], so our American fans are going to have to bring their game big time!
Do you hope to be paired together and, if so, what sort of advantage would that provide? Do your games complement each other?
Nelly: We are literally in Captain Juli [Inkster's] hands as to who she plays us with, and honestly we are both so happy to have made the team and be representing America together—and we have so many friends on the team—that we really don’t mind who plays with whom.
Of course, we do know each other’s games really well, which has its advantages. Because we are sisters, we can also probably be too honest with each other, but I think we would play well together if we were paired.
Were you, like me, forced to dress in matching outfits with your siblings as children? And, If so, will the Solheim Cup uniforms trigger any traumatic memories?
Jessica: No, wearing the U.S. uniform together only triggers excitement! Actually, I don’t remember any trauma about dressing up the same. However, if we’re going to talk about sharing or stealing each other’s favorite clothes, then I can definitely conjure up some traumatic memories.
You two are used to rooting for each other. is it hard for golfers to switch gears for a week and pull for each other when the rest of the year they’re such fierce individual competitors?
Nelly: Not really. I think that’s what makes golf such a unique sport. Most of the year, when we are playing in stroke play, where it really is only up to you and how you play on that golf course, how anyone else plays doesn’t really affect your score. It isn’t the same as a sport like tennis, where someone’s game might be a difficult matchup for you and can make you play poorly.
We genuinely do all get along on the LPGA. Since joining Jessica on tour, I have discovered it’s a super fun place to be and generally everyone is mega-welcoming and encouraging, so playing together on a team is something we all look forward to.
Photo credit: Courtesy Steve Brown Creative