I love tennis. I love everything about the game. I love the squeak the shoes make when the players come to an abrupt stop or change directions. I love the thwack of the ball against the racket. As a woman, I love the fact that the female players come in a variety of sizes, and that very few are rail thin, having muscular thighs and arms. I love that it’s a cerebral game, one that is played in the mind as much as on the court. I love that it’s a sport of individuals. (Unless it’s doubles, of course, but even then, two people hardly a “team sport” make.)
I started watching tennis matches in the early 1980s, and it was Pete Sampras, one of my first favorite players, who taught me how tennis scoring works. He served an ace, making the score 15–0. Then he served another ace — the score was now 30–0. Sampras followed that up with the third ace — now it was 40–0. Yet another ace, and it was game Sampras. Pete Sampras was never loud nor showy on the court — he was just doggedly determined, and damn good. I’ve seen true grit in the character of the player when I saw him play although he was sick. He was throwing up between points — and still managing to win.
I’ve loved Serena and Venus Williams from the first time I had seen them play, loving the power and grace and sheer exuberance they brought to the game.
I always wished I could be a phenom at tennis, but it was not meant to be. Since my very first lessons, when I was a 15-year-old short, stocky kid, it was painfully obvious to everyone, including myself, that I didn’t have “it.” The teacher had long sighs and slight pity in her eyes, and the only thing I managed to remember from those lessons was how to hold a racquet correctly.
My kids also took tennis lessons when they were little, but not because I wanted to live through them. I simply wanted them to know and understand this game I loved so much. I, too, would play with my kids and my husband. Now my ankles do not allow me the movement that is needed to even play a mediocre game.
One of the things on my Apacalyst (bucket list) is for me to see on match in the center court for each of the big four major tournaments — Australian Open, Wimbledon, French Open, and the U.S. Open. In complete honesty, the hard court is my favorite, followed closely by the grass, with the French clay courts a distant third. But, I love watching each, and I think it is the variety that makes it interesting, just like life.
A final thing I will share about my love of tennis that my husband — knowing my love of the game and the thrill of watching a great final — does not spoil the outcome for me. Although he knows the outcomes of most finals (because I DVR them so I could watch them at my leisure), he has never spilled the beans. I always appreciate that.