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Pancho Segura, Ecuador

Rickets. Poor. Ecuador. Dirt. His two small hands sweeping, picking up balls at the Guayaquil tennis club while cruise liners sailed the ocean nearby. This bow-legged kid loved to watch them. Maricon, they called him. “Fairy.” Too small, too weak, so two hands on the forehand. He played and played until everyone wanted to hit with him. […]

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Steffi Graf and Mark Rothko

I picture her alone before a late Rothko painting, his darkening palette. Steffi’s favorite color was black. Rothko’s floating color field, “a universe for viewers they do not have in the real world.”  Black a type of protection, a barrier against stalkers, reporters, celebrity, noise. Black a tunnel, a cave, a hole, a portal.  The […]

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Margaret Court, LGBTQ+

Margaret Court, the Aussie Amazon, did sprints in the sand and lifted weights when workouts for “ladies” were a dirty word. On first encountering her, Martina Navratilova said what so many women felt: “Margaret amazed me with her size and strength.” Nicknamed “The Arm” for her power overhead (the serve, the smash) and incredible reach […]

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The Czech, Jan Kodes, Hears Whispers: “Beat the Russian. Please, Beat the Russian.”

With Soviet Union Forever! the propoganda posters shout. Propaganda Posters = Truth, the truth of propaganda posters. Jan Kodes the “son of an independent businessman—reject application to Secondary education!” Eventually the Czechs soften their communist principles. Kodes witnessed the result outside his window in August, 1968: a parking lot full of Russian tanks. Kodes one of […]

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Helen of California

Challenge: Combine the two portraits below of Helen Wills as classic beauty and Helen Wills as tennis player into a single portrait. Recommendation: Skip this challenge. Helen Wills as Classic Beauty: Four Male Perspectives Charlie Chaplin on the most beautiful thing in the world: “the movement of Helen Wills playing tennis: it had grace and […]

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