The ‘Happy Slam’ is known for many things. Its ‘we can do anything’ atmosphere, the genteel patter of play, the thrilling late-night finishes, the sumptuous player’s lounge, the well-stocked media cafe, not to mention the oft-extraordinary tennis.
Tennis events are funny things. There is at least one going on almost every week of the year, in all sorts of far-flung locations, backwaters, and byeways around the world, and, every single one is different.
Of all the tennis players there are to watch in the world, Justine Henin is one of my favourites. She has that Roger Federer-like quality where you simply yearn to play like her.
Boxing, sprinting, kayaking, rock climbing, Olympic lifts and more – all in a Christmas day’s work during the tennis off-season
Gone are the days when tennis players (we’re talking about you, John McEnroe) spent the Christmas break eating turkey with all the trimmings and nursing their sore limbs and tired minds after 40-odd weeks travelling around the world. Oh no. Andre Agassi boosted the off-season training trend in somewhat un-festive fashion – running up hills on Christmas day.
Tim Henman was a mythologised sporting persona in my youth. Not quite of the Jonny Wilkinson or David Beckham ilk; in all honesty, I can’t say I ever swooned at the sight of Tiger Tim, and we certainly didn’t discuss his physique in the playground during break. But, to the probable horror of my school friends, come the summer months, Neighbours and Home and Away didn’t get a look in.
It may sound like barking up the obvious tree, but a tournament like the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals requires rather a lot of different bits coming together seamlessly in the right place at the right time. It’s a bit like making a giant cake.
Serena Williams is to tennis fans what Marmite is to most people. It’s a love or hate predicament. We’re so used to her imposing physique, her nothing-to-something story, her celebrity antics, her dramatic absences and reappearances, and her less-than-sensible statements, that it’s almost become old hat.
There is something a bit unique about a Federer-Murray encounter. Perhaps it’s because, ultimately, every soul among us who aspires to hit the ball over the net wants to be like Roger Federer. To be able to glide around the court without breaking a sweat, hitting winners from indeterminable angles, and all the while, be such an asset to humanity, such a nice guy.
Diego Maradona, titanic poses, and eight cheery tennis players – why this year’s World Tour Finals has begun with a bang
We are back in London. The tennis caravan, which rumbles so gracefully around the world, hopping plane to plane from East to West and back again has alighted once more on the banks of the Thames. And, while the rows upon rows of press tap away at their laptops like a well-oiled hamster wheel, London’s O2 Arena, turned into a tennis court for one week of the year, has patriotic bottoms on practically every blue padded seat.
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