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Three-Time French Open Champions: The Men

The Women will be published on June 4. Rafael Nadal: 4,500 rpm on the forehand.  Borg’s topspin revolution doubled, squared.  All that topspin means net clearance, safety, angles.  The perfect weapon for clay, its wars of attrition.  Bjorn Borg: I wanted to be Ringo Starr one year for Halloween. Long hair, girls screaming, rock star. […]

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Why the Tennis Gods Made Rod Laver

Mark on his painting: For this painting I focused on his ear because it is such an intimate space. It is where whispers are spoken. It is the site of the annunciation. It is a space of vulnerability. Rod Laver’s iconic stature in the world of tennis is well established. And for those of us […]

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Billie Jean King, Feminist

Parable of the Three Doors The first door’s locked. Deadbolts everywhere, a not yet discernible voice inside. I couldn’t get a closet deep enough. I’ve got a homophobic family, a tour that will die if I come out, the world is homophobic and, yeah, I was homophobic.  The second door’s a ceiling. The Houston Astrodome, […]

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Toupie’s Ghost

Note: I first heard of Toupie Lowther from the Wimbledon Museum Twitter Feed, which included the photograph postcard above of Toupie Lowther, on Feb. 5, 2021: “We have been researching previously overlooked players in tennis and wanted to share this postcard of May ‘Toupie’ Lowther with you. Wimbledon semi-finalist in 1903 and 1906, Lowther was believed to […]

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String Therapy, Jimmy Miller

Before my father died when I was twelve, he taught me to play tennis and string racquets. Forty-seven years and some 80,000 racquets later, I can still remember the smell of heated wood after quickly pulling a small piece of spare string through the rough holes of a wooden racket. “Burning them out,” we called […]

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Hiding Inside the Baseline, The Story of Bobby Blair

Bobby Blair’s Hiding Inside the Baseline is the compelling, must-read story about a young boy from a poor family—incredibly supportive mother, alcoholic father—who begins working towards becoming one of the top tennis prospects in the country. Hard enough, right? Add to this challenge Bobby’s growing awareness, from the age of 13 years old, that he […]

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Martina Navratilova: Heroine with a Thousand Faces

Thesis:  In what many observers consider the greatest rivalry in the history of sport, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova helped change societally constructed ideas about female identity. Chris Evert proved that you could be an intensely driven professional woman and “feminine” at the same time. Martina, well, Martina’s the missing heroine in Joseph Campbell’s The […]

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Bjorn Borg

I wanted to be Ringo Starr one year for Halloween. Long hair, girls screaming, rock star. A few years later I wanted to be Borg. Long hair, headband, topspin, rock star. No one burned as brightly for five or six years. The Angelic Assassin, beatific like the beats, then simply beat, burned out, retired at […]

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Suzanne Lenglen and Watteau’s Pilgrimage to Cythera

Imagine Lenglen playing tennis in a hidden corner of Antoine Watteau’s Pilgrimage to Cythera. Dressed more lightly than the crowds of spectators in their rococo frills, her body is both concealed and revealed in all its ballet. A breast can be glimpsed or imagined. Lenglen’s every tennis stroke a musician’s glissando or dancer’s glissade perfectly […]

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Jelena Dokic’s Eyes

In junior tournaments, Jelena’s ruthless, unemotional. She even cheats on line calls to avoid her father’s beatings. He smacks her with shoes in the head, punches her in the stomach. He wraps her many wounds in words of love/ambition: “prostitute,” “whore,” “hopeless,” “worthless” . . . Jelena’s only 12, keeps rising in the rankings. Fear of punishment […]