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Sibling Revelry

As far as we know, there is no official title for “world’s most athletic family,” but the Kordas would have to be in the running if there were. They are not the first nor the most famous family with multiple generations or siblings reaching the professional ranks, to be sure. But unlike, say, the Mannings in football, the Williams sisters in tennis or the Currys in basketball, one of the interesting aspects about their story is how they have conquered more than one sport.

It all started with tennis. Petr Korda is a former Australian Open champion who once reached No. 2 in the world, and his wife Regina also played professionally. Their 21-year-old son Sebastian, not surprisingly, followed in their footsteps and is currently making a name for himself on the ATP Tour.

The daughters of the family, however, chose a different path. Jessica, 28, and her younger sister Nelly, 22, were bitten by the golf bug at an early age and are now the friendliest of rivals on the LPGA Tour. Both have emerged as bona fide stars in the sport.

Jessica turned pro in 2011 and has won six times, including the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions earlier this year. She has top 10 finishes in all five LPGA majors and career earnings of more than $6.4 million.

Nelly joined her on tour in 2017 and already owns six victories, the latest coming at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in June for her first major. Her career earnings total more than $5.5 million and she was ranked No. 1 in the world as of late July.

Born in Bradenton, the Kordas split their childhoods between Florida and their parents’ native country, the Czech Republic. They were set to represent Team USA at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo earlier this month and hoped to add medals to their already impressive list of accomplishments.

Orlando Family Magazine caught up with the sisters to learn why they chose golf over tennis, what it’s like to be paired in the same group during professional events and why they love calling Florida home.

Orlando Family Magazine: What an amazing season it has been for both of you, starting with your back-to-back wins to open the year here in Central Florida. What did it mean to you and your family to become only the second sisters to achieve that feat, joining a legend like Annika Sorenstam and her sister, Charlotta?

Nelly Korda: It meant a lot. Any time we can share the stage with Annika it is special.

OFM: Obviously, you are competitors and want to do well yourselves, but do you each take a lot of joy out of seeing the other succeed, like when Nelly won her first major championship earlier this summer?

Jessica Korda: Absolutely! While we of course are individual competitors and always try to win every time we tee it up, seeing the other have success is great. We certainly always pull for each other.

OFM: You have been paired together several times, including the U.S. Women’s Open earlier this year and in the final group in the season opener, which Jessica won. Is that a nerve-wracking experience or are you able to still pull for each other?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – JANUARY 24: Jessica Korda plays a shot on the seventh hole during the final round of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions at Tranquilo Golf Course at the Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club on January 24, 2021 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

NK: It is not a nerve-wracking experience. When we are inside the ropes competing we are focusing on our own games and trying to do the best we can. When we are paired together, we try to treat it the same as getting paired with any other player on tour.

OFM: Jessica, your round of 60 in your victory at the Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club was just one

shot off the tour record. What stands out when you look back at that day and could you tell you had it going as the round was happening?

JK: It was a great round and one I will never forget. It was particularly special because I had fantastic playing partners in Larry Fitzgerald and Bret Baier. They both kept it light and fun out there with me, which always helps. Just like any great round, you tend to get into a deep focus and concentrate on the process and taking it one shot at a time.

OFM: Can you describe what it’s like just having a sister to lean on during the ups and downs of a season?

NK: It is great to have one another on tour together. It is nice to have someone to be able to talk to about golf and non-golf stuff. We are always there for each other.

OFM: Are your parents a big help in that regard as well, since they were also professional athletes?

JK: Yes, our entire family is very close. We all lean on each other and help one another. Our parents never try to overdo it, but they are always there to encourage us and give us advice when we need it.

OFM: Was tennis ever an option for you? What drew you to golf instead and what do you love about the sport?

NK: We grew up playing all sports. We have always been interested in any athletics. Obviously, we are huge tennis fans because of our parents and now our brother, so tennis is a sport that we follow closely and is near and dear to our hearts. However, golf was the one sport that we finally decided to stick with as we got older. It is such a unique and special game. The combination of the mental and physical skills required to play golf at a high level makes the sport intriguing. We love to work hard and focus on the process of getting better.

OFM: To have five athletes of this caliber from the same family is quite rare. Has it sunk in just how special it is to be doing this together as a family?

NK: We certainly recognize that it is unique and special. However, we don’t think of it as different as it is just the way we grew up. To us it is normal and we wouldn’t want it any other way. We are so proud of what we have accomplished together as a family.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 26: Nelly Korda of the United States tees off on the 16th hole during round two of the Gainbridge LPGA on February 26, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

JK: We love watching Sebi play. We try not to miss any of his matches, whether we watch on TV, online or in person. We also all communicate together daily no matter where any of us are in the world. We certainly all support each other. The three of us siblings are very close.

OFM: I know the Czech Republic is a very meaningful part of your background but you also spent a great deal of your upbringing here in Florida. What did you like about growing up here?

JK: As young kids we split time between [the] Czech Republic and Florida each year. We have family in both places and consider them both home. They are both truly special places to us. We love living in Florida and are proud to call it home. At the same time, we treasure going back to [the] Czech Republic each year and visiting family over there, too.

OFM: Did you ever get to visit Orlando and spend time at the parks?

NK: Having grown up in Florida, we have spent a good amount of time in Orlando. Whether it was visiting friends or traveling to golf tournaments, we have been to Orlando a lot. We have always enjoyed our time in Orlando and there is so much to do, between the theme parks, the shopping, the golf, etc. It is a great place to visit in Florida.

OFM: What are some of your hobbies and interests away from the golf course?

JK: We love following all sports, particularly hockey and tennis. We are also very health cautious. We love to exercise and work out. We also love to cook and hang out with friends.

OFM: What is one thing about your sister, either golf-wise or personality-wise, that you admire and wish you could do better?

NK: We are both so proud of each other and value our friendship and how much we support one another. I think there are many things that we admire about each other; however, one thing that comes to both our minds is how we are there for each other at all times.

OFM: How often do you get mistaken for each other?

JK: It happens quite often.

OFM: You have both contended at majors and now Nelly has won one. Are those the tournaments that mean the most to you?

JK: We both just like to focus on the process of working on our games and sticking to our own plans. We try not to get caught up in results and outcomes. If we work hard and do the right things, we believe the results will come.