I only remember being on a tennis court once as a child. Spending the summer in California, my God-sister and her friends took me to the tennis courts. After watching for some time I took the racket attempting to serve for the first time. I recall thinking OK, “this is like ping-pong and volleyball. Its easy I got this.” I threw-up the ball with my left hand and swatted at the ball with the racket in my right hand. Missing I thought this is now like baseball because I struck out, totally missed the ball. Trying again, I missed the ball again. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get this thing right. Countless tries later, I finally connected with the ball and success!
Overweight and crippled by a lack of self-esteem and confidence, on the court I felt strong and more focused. It was the only time that summer that the volume on my anxieties lowered enough for me to be in the moment, experiencing a kind of joy and freedom, I only find now filling the blank page. Like most urban and predominantly black schools, my schools did not have a tennis court. I enjoyed volleyball the most then, but now it is tennis that resonates with me. Anytime I tell someone I am off to watch a tennis match, they invariably ask who Serena is playing or if its family and close friends they ask me if Nadal, Tsonga or Gael is playing because they know I like these players. My love is so real that I’d watch Asian or Australian matches at 4 or 6 am live not wanting to wait for replays due to the time difference.
Beyond the personalities, I love the canvas that is the court. Concrete, clay-packed or soft grass. Blue, ochre (red) or Green. The twenty-seven feet long and thirty-six feet wide rectangle is perfect home for the complex layers that is tennis. Mountainous or slight, players fun to and from. Their strokes can stipple, glaze and dab the ball with the touch of a neurosurgeon. More likely, balls, are being catapulted or hurled through the air like cars on the Autobahn. Kyrgios, Federer and even Dimitrov palettes are very different, but oh so beautiful!
I can’t wait for the artistic and athletic scenes I’ll witness later this month at the French Open, followed by the Olympics, Wimbledon and the US Open. Get your memory banks ready for the spectacular images that are on their way…