Novak Djokovic’s unruly wig bouncing Djoker caricaturing Gustavo Kuerten so that he looks like a bobblehead sports doll, Guga’s hair in reality so loose and free his body so loose-limbed and free dancing and bobbing to some unheard Brazilian music while he coils uncoils one-handed backhands big flat first serves sudden drop shots Guga’s body flying in so many directions he’s not stylish like Maria Bueno, the Sao Paulo Swallow, who was “incomparably balletic and flamboyant” (Bud Collins), but Guga’s style be so loose and free in its tennis player’s zone bounce in the step/jive/groove/samba/choro/bosso nova that cannot be boxed or contained in categories of words, Guga’s contagious smile enhancing it all, this joy that championship tennis at Roland Garros does not have to executed by great mighty grinders like Borg (six titles), Wilander (3 titles), Lendl (3 titles), but can be an artistic display of loose-limbed one-handers and flamboyant forehands struck with flair and panache and a stealth weapon called Luxilon, those new-fangled Luxilon polyester strings which allowed Guga to swing even more freely get even more pace and spin so that I dreamed one night Guga’s hair was all Luxilon strings thinner but as lethal as Medusa’s snakes, and all the writers of history would later confirm it, this revolution in weaponry, so that tennis would never be the same again.
The Brazilian designer/illustrator Cristiano Siqueira (CrisVector) has won numerous awards for his work, including two National Society of Design awards, one for his portraits of the Kennedy Honors recipients for the Washington Post, and two Clio awards, one for his series of national team posters for the FIFA 2014 World Cup. His long list of clients include ESPN, Nike, Rolling Stone, Variety, Gillette . . . His portrait of Gustavo Kuerten first appeared as one of 18 portraits he did for the first Brazilian ESPN publication in 2010. To see more of Cristiano Siqueira’s work, you can visit his website or follow him on Instagram.
If you wish to read “Guga’s Hair, 1997” a second or third time, consider listening to the famous Choro #1 by the Brazilian composer Heiter Villa-Lobos while reading it. That, in any case, is how I imagine it being read.
Happy to announce that this blog has been named one of Feedspot’s top tennis blogs, websites & influencers of 2021.
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