This article appeared in Tennis Threads, the only printed British tennis magazine.
Billie-Jean King’s name is everywhere at the moment after the film release of ‘Battle of the Sexes’.
Billie-Jean was my idol. As a junior, I modelled my whole game on hers. In fact, I still think of her when I serve. Hers was a loose and languid action.
She attacked, she screamed when she missed a volley, slamming her racket on the net cord followed by a roar of frustration. The British public were shocked at the aggression but she didn’t seem to care.
I had a couple of coaching sessions with her when I was about 13.
She told my parents “she has a nice game”. I nearly fainted.
Our paths crossed a number of times after that. Every time she saw me she’d say ‘how are ya doing? how’s ya game?’ in her American drawl. I began to think I had a double. Surely she didn’t really recognise me. But it was great kudos – my schoolmates would say ‘does she know you?’ ‘Oh yes, we go back a long way, Billie Jean and I’.
The trouble with films about tennis is that most actors just can’t play the game.
“Players” and “Wimbledon” were both murdered by hopeless attempts to look like proper players. McEnroe had a walk-on part in “Players” and regretted it, saying that tennis films were always terrible. Read More
So, Dmitrov (a.k.a Baby Fed) finally won a major title at 02 last night.
What took him so long? Girls, apparently. Lots of them. His performances off the court clearly affected his performances on it. The most high profile one was, of course, Sharapova. When asked what attracted him to her he said, “well, she’s tall and she’s blonde. What else would you want?” Err, brains, or humour maybe?? My opinion of him plummeted. Read More
This article first appeared on Campden Hill LTC Website, May 2017.
Halle (The Gerry Weber Open) Tournament, Katrina Allen
Have you been lucky enough to see the sublime Roger Federer play live? This time last year, I hadn’t, and was pretty desperate to do so before he retired.
And then I came across William Skidelsky’s book ‘Federer and Me, a Story of an Obsession’. It’s a brilliant read, both funny and informative but, best of all, in his chapter about the German tournament in Halle, he revealed how I might realise my dream. For this is where Federer plays his Wimbledon warm-up and where he has a lifetime contract (so there’s no chance of seeing him at the rival tournament at Queen’s). And, unlike Queen’s, there’s a sliding roof so play is guaranteed in the main stadium where they naturally schedule all his matches. Read More
So, the clay court season has finished, culminating, as always, in Roland Garros, the French Open. I’m always rather sad when the French finishes. Gruelling rallies on the dusty clay, in the heat, over the best of five sets are exciting to watch. Wimbledon seems almost dainty in comparison. Read More
(I have interviewed the Mistress, Her House Slave, Her P.A., a Freudian Psychoanalyst and a sex therapist for a comprehensive article on this subject.)
(the word Mistress and related pronouns are traditionally in capital letters)
A friend told me one day – ‘I have a really interesting opportunity. If I tell you, promise not to laugh.’ I duly promised. ‘I’m going to be helping a Dominatrix. It’s mostly personal assistant work, answering the phone, taking bookings, optimising the website etc. It’s also a really great writing opportunity.’ Read More
We played that game, two truths and a lie. We were drunk of course. Red wine rings on what had been a spotless white linen tablecloth, ash strewn where ashtrays had been missed. Someone had stabbed their fag into the butter. Lesley’s eyes flashed. No-one admitted to it. Not so funny now was it.
‘Traveleyes’ is an intriguing travel concept geared towards both blind and sighted travellers. Swopping on a daily basis, blind and sighted people are paired up, the sighted ones guiding and explaining what they see. It’s a brilliant way to wake up all our senses: smell the game in Africa, sniff perfumes in a perfume house in France, feel snow crunching underfoot, smell spices in Morocco, taste Italian cuisine and experience the world through a blind person’s perceptions. These tours tend to attract solo travellers, a lot of whom are single or who simply decide to leave their partners at home! The sighted people also get a considerable discount on the trips.
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