While the 37-year-old rapper (real name: Stefan Gordy) is better known for his big glasses, giant red afro and obnoxiously catchy club hits like “Sexy and I Know It,” “Sorry for Party Rocking” and “Party Rock Anthem” produced with his partner in LMFAO (and nephew) Sky Blu, he’s apparently always dreamed of playing tennis professionally. His father Berry Gordy — founder of Motown records — was a “fanatic” about the sport and had a tennis court at his Bel-Air house, according to a January interview with ESPN magazine. German tennis star Boris Becker would stop by for games of chess, and Yugoslavia’s Monica Seles, formerly the world’s top female player, was a friend of the family. In fact, Redfoo’s mother used to play tennis when she was pregnant with him. “They make a joke — I don’t know if it’s true — her water broke on the tennis court,” he said.
He started taking the sport seriously at 14 and competed in junior tennis — even rallying with Pete Sampras’s sister Stella once. But he opted for a career in music after losing his rackets and breaking his wrist while snowboarding during a 1992 trip to Sweden. “As a tennis player I felt like, ‘I’m just going to hit balls all day,’” he told ESPN. “I think [music] is a better career for me so I can express my ideas about things.”
And now that LMFAO is on hiatus, Redfoo can focus on his game. He has been coaching junior tennis player Ayaka Okuno and hosted the first “Party Rock Open” in Las Vegas last September — a tournament for professional women tennis players sponsored by the United States Tennis Association.
He also admitted to ESPN that he is dating Victoria Azarenka, the star women’s singles player from Belarus, and is incorporating her signature grunt into a new song. (It sounds like this.) And in the future, he hopes to launch a line of tennis apparel — think neon colors and animal print tennis skirts.
To get a sense of Redfoo’s match play, watch him make this trick shot during a game against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., earlier this month.
Or watch him rally with Serena Williams during a Mar. 4 exhibition game at Madison Square Garden:
During a press conference with Azarenka at the 2012 U.S. Open — which she ended up losing to Williams in the women’s singles final — the rapper joked that the lyric “everyday I’m shuffling” in LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” refers to the way tennis players “shuffle,” moving from side to side to swiftly cover the whole court.
So what can the tennis world expect should Redfoo make it to Arthur Ashe stadium this fall? Well, have a look at this flash mob at the Party Rock Open in Las Vegas, complete with a giant dancing tennis ball and inflatable jungle animals. We’re just going to start lining up for tickets now.