tennis court

Janko Tipsarevic on Davis Cup, his DJing career, and His Serbian Teammates


Current world #9 Janko Tipsarevic is a force to be reckoned with on the tennis court, having finally won his first two titles on the ATP Tour last year. The Serb helped his country win the Davis Cup last year and credits his teammates as his best friends. I had the chance to chat with him about his time in Miami, the start of his DJing career and his Davis Cup win.

Knowing you enjoy house music, have you had a chance to catch to catch any of the Ultra Music Festival going on in downtown Miami?

I didn’t have a chance to go out to Ultra.

Is it on the schedule?

I think today is the last day, right?

Yes.

So, no. Luckily, it’s not on the schedule, so that means I’m performing well.  I went out on Saturday to “Mansion” and it was overcrowded because it was the beginning of Winter Music Conference.

I am starting my DJ career. Last week, I was DJing with Bob Sinclair [at the player’s party] and picked up a few tricks. I was really happy about that.

What is your most memorable moment on court?

Winning the Davis Cup.

If you are hosting a party, what three tennis players do you invite and why?

I would probably invite the Serbian Davis Cup team because they are my closest friends, and I feel most relaxed when I am around them. We can talk literally about anything. Novak [Djokovic], Viktor [Troicki] would be my first picks.

What are two things you can’t live without?

Two things? People are not counted so I do not have to say my wife, right? (Jokes and laughs). I would say cell phone and internet.

If you could invite any three people to dinner, living or dead, who would they be and why?

Living or dead? Hmmm. (Long pause). I would invite probably Swedish House Mafia.

DJ a little with them, maybe join them?

Pfff. That would be good!

Have Rod Laver be Part of Your Holiday Season

As the holiday season fast approaches, New Chapter Press recommends the newly-updated memoir of Australian tennis legend Rod Laver — “The Education of a Tennis Player” – as an ideal gift for tennis fans around the world.

Written with Hall of Fame journalist and historian Bud Collins, “The Education of a Tennis Player” is Laver’s first-hand account of his famous 1969 Grand Slam season, capped off by his win over fellow Australian Tony Roche in the final of the U.S. Open. Laver also writes about his childhood and early days in tennis, his 1962 Grand Slam and offers tips on how players of all levels can improve their game. He also shares some of the strategies that helped him to unparalleled success on the tennis court.

Originally published in 1971, “The Education of a Tennis Player” ($19.95, www.NewChapterMedia.com) was updated by Laver and Collins with new content including his recovery from a near-fatal stroke in 1998 and helping Australia once again win the Davis Cup in 1973. The memoir features descriptions of Laver’s most suspenseful matches and memorable portraits of his biggest rivals Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad, Tony Roche and Pancho Gonzalez.

“I am delighted that “The Education of a Tennis Player” is back in circulation and available for a new generation of tennis fans,” said Laver of his newly updated memoir. “Winning the Grand Slam for a second time in 1969 seems just like yesterday and this book brings back a lot of memories of the great matches and exciting times. I hope people enjoy reading my story.”

Laver captured 11 major singles titles during his career, including Wimbledon in 1961, 1962, 1968 and 1969. After joining Don Budge as the only man to win a Grand Slam by sweeping all four majors in 1962, Laver turned professional where he, along with fellow pros Hoad, Rosewall and Gonzalez, were banned from playing the “amateur-only” major tournaments. When the “Open Era” of tennis began in 1968, Laver netted another five major singles titles, including his Grand Slam sweep of all four in 1969. Laver won nearly 200 singles titles during his career and was inducted into the International Tennis of Fame in 1981.

Collins, himself a 1994 inductee in the International Tennis Hall of Fame, first met Laver in 1956 at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston during the U.S. National Doubles Championships. Thirteen years later, the two collaborated on the book that was only to be published if Laver won the Grand Slam. Collins is best known for his colorful television commentary – and his colorful wardrobe – as well as his columns in the Boston Globe.

“Rod Laver is one of the greatest treasures we have in tennis and “The Education of a Tennis Player” is one of our sports most important literary works,” said Collins. “Rod was always so humble and gracious, but he could play tennis like a hurricane. He was as a great a champion as we have ever had in tennis and one of the all-time nicest guys.”

New Chapter Press is also the publisher of the newly updated second edition of “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “The Roger Federer Story: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli, “Acing Depression” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “The Lennon Prophecy” by Joe Niezgoda, “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin, “People’s Choice Cancun – Travel Survey Guidebook” by Eric Rabinowitz and “Weekend Warriors: The Men of Professional Lacrosse” by Jack McDermott, among others. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at www.NewChapterMedia.com.

JIMMY CONNORS WRITES FOREWORD TO CLIFF RICHEY BOOK “ACING DEPRESSION”

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Jimmy Connors, the five-time U.S. Open champion, has contributed the Foreword to the upcoming book “ACING DEPRESSION: A TENNIS CHAMPION’S TOUGHEST MATCH” written by his friend and former pro tennis colleague Cliff Richey.

Richey, who 40 years ago was the No. 1-ranked American tennis player and the hero of the 1970 championship-winning U.S. Davis Cup team, was the winner of the first-ever professional Grand Prix points title. In his book, due out in April, he discusses the most difficult opponent of his life, depression. Richey calls depression among adult males as “the silent tragedy in our culture today” and details his life-long battle with the disease that afflicts approximately 121 million people around the world. Co-written with his oldest daughter Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, ACING DEPRESSION ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewC

hapterMedia.com), profiles the life and tennis career of Richey, with his depression being a constant theme.

Writes Connors in the Foreword, “What made Cliff Richey what he was on the tennis court has certainly carried over into this book. His story has taken a subject, depression—which has affected him personally—and put it out there for everyone to see. Depression has been a subject that no one really talks about. Few people even admit to having such a condition. But Cliff is not afraid to be bold and reveal what he has gone through and what it takes to get a handle on this disease…Just as Cliff played tennis, he is studying how depression works; what its weaknesses are; and what strategies you can use against it. His hope is that people who read his story can learn—learn about the disease and learn that people who suffer can have a better quality of life. Things can get better. There is hope.”

Richey was known as the original “Bad Boy” of tennis, before there was John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase. His 26-year career was highlighted by a 1970 season where he led the United States to the Davis Cup title, finished as the first-ever Grand Prix world points champion and won one of the most exciting matches in American tennis history that clinched the year-end No. 1 American ranking. He won both of his singles matches in the 5-0 U.S. victory over West Germany in the 1970 Davis Cup final, while he beat out rivals Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Arthur Ashe and Stan Smith to win the first-ever Grand Prix world points title the precursor to the modern day ATP rankings. He won his second U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in 1970, while also won titles in his career at the Canadian Open, the South African Open, the U.S. Indoors and the Western Open (modern day Cincinnati Masters 1000 event).

At the 1970 Pacific Coast Championships at the Berkeley Tennis Club in Berkeley, Calif., he earned the No. 1 U.S. ranking when he beat Smith in a fifth-set tie-breaker, where both players had simultaneous match point in a sudden-death nine-point tie-breaker at 4-4. He also reached the semifinals of both the 1970 French and U.S. Opens, losing a famous match to Zeljko Franulovic of Yugoslavia in the French semifinals, despite holding match points and leading by two-sets-to-one and 5-1 in the fourth set.

ACING DEPRESSION is due out in April and is published by New Chapter Press – also the publisher of The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer, The Bud Collins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Education of a Tennis Player by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli, The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda, Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog by Susan Anson, The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle by Stewart Wolpin, People’s Choice Cancun – Travel Survey Guidebook by Eric Rabinowitz and Weekend Warriors: The Men of Professional Lacrosse by Jack McDermott, among others. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at www.NewChapterMedia.com.

SAMPRAS PUTS HOUSE ON THE MARKET

Pete Sampras is looking for a new home. According to the Los Angeles Times, Sampras and his wife, actress Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, have listed their seven-bedroom, 11 ½ bathroom compound in Lake Sherwood for $25 million.

According to the Times, “The gated contemporary north of Los Angeles sits on 20 hilltop acres with 360-degree views, a north-south tennis court and a swimming pool. The more than 13,000-square-foot main house has a combined theater and game room. Including the 1,200-square-foot guesthouse and the 2,000-square-foot detached gym, the property has seven bedrooms and 11 1/2 bathrooms.”

Perhaps the 11 ½ bathrooms was a little much as Sampras, his wife and two kids have three bathrooms to themselves!

Sampras won 14 major singles titles, including seven Wimbledon titles and held the No. 1 ranking for 286 weeks. Since he retired from the ATP World Tour after winning the 2002 US Open, Sampras has played exhibition matches as well as on the Jim Courier-run Champions Series tennis circuit.

According to the Times, Sampras did not offer a reason for putting the house on the market. Wrote the Times, “Sampras does have an impressive real estate record, having sold a Beverly Hills mansion in 2008 for $23 million as well as other homes in Los Angeles’ Benedict Canyon and Beverly Hills since 2003.”

Philippoussis To Make ATP Champions Debut In London

Former Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis is to return to the city that he so nearly conquered when he plays in the AEGON Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall in London, December 1-6.

Philippoussis, who also reached the final of the US Open during his career, will be making his debut on the ATP Champions Tour when he lines up alongside fellow grass-court greats Goran Ivanisevic, Pat Rafter and Stefan Edberg at the season-ending event. For Philippoussis, who beat Andre Agassi on his way to the 2003 Wimbledon final before losing to Roger Federer, it will be an opportunity to renew rivalries and rekindle his relationship with the British public.

“I get goosebumps every time I go to the UK because of the British crowds,” said Philippoussis, who is universally known as ‘Scud’ for the power of his serve.

“The British fans are incredible – they have such a great appreciation for tennis. I’ve always enjoyed a lot of support from them and I hope they are looking forward to seeing me again. I certainly can’t wait.”

Philippoussis has visited the Royal Albert Hall once before back in 2006 when he played a charity exhibition match against Tim Henman, and the Australian is looking forward to experiencing the world’s most unique tennis court for a second time.

“I really can’t wait to play at the Royal Albert Hall again,” he said. “It is one of the prettiest tennis venues I have ever seen, it really is gorgeous. It’s perfect in terms of how close the crowd is to you when you’re playing and the atmosphere that creates.”

Philippoussis will join an eight-man singles line-up that already includes the 2001 Wimbledon Champion Ivanisevic, former World Number One Edberg and two-time Wimbledon finalist Rafter. The AEGON Masters Tennis could give Philippoussis the chance for revenge against Rafter, who beat him in the final of the US Open in 1998.

“I’m so looking forward to seeing all the guys again,” said Philippoussis.

“The line-up is really amazing so every match should be good. I’d love to play against Edberg, and I’m looking forward to seeing Goran again because he’s just a great guy. Then obviously Pat’s a fellow Aussie, so it should be great fun. I just can’t wait to get down there and get out on court.”

The AEGON Masters Tennis runs from the 1st to the 6th of December at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The tournament uses a round-robin format, with all players playing at least three matches each. Each day of the tournament, except the final Sunday, features two sessions – an afternoon session starting at 1pm and an evening session starting at 7.30pm. All sessions will feature a combination of singles and doubles matches. The event is the final tournament in 2009 on the ATP Champions Tour – a circuit of former World Number One tennis players, Grand Slam singles finalists and Davis Cup winners.

For more information, visit: http://www.aegonmasterstennis.com/

For tickets, go to: http://www.aegonmasterstennis.com/tickets.asp

Clijsters Crashing Party at US Open

NEW YORK – Kim Clijsters may be like a bull in a china shop, crashing through the US Open party, but she no longer feels like an elephant.

Three months after giving birth to her daughter, Clijsters, then retired, went onto a tennis court to hit with a friend and former player, Caroline Maze.

Clijsters Crashing Party at US Open
Clijsters Crashing Party at US Open

“That was a big mistake because I was so frustrated after that,” Clijsters remembered. “Because in my mind I still knew how to step forward, step back, move to the side. But the connection from the brain to the body wasn’t really – there was nothing there.

“So I had a good feeling when the ball was coming towards me, but just moving was absolutely terrible. I felt like an elephant sometimes just trying to move.”

Playing in her third tournament since ending a two-year retirement, Clijsters is moving just perfectly, thank you. With an easy 6-2 6-4 victory Tuesday over China’s Li Na, Clijsters grabbed a spot in the women’s semifinals with her 12th consecutive victory on the hard courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Her next hurdle will be defending champion Serena Williams, who advanced with a 6-4 6-3 victory over 10th-seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy.

“She’s a really good player,” Williams said of Clijsters. “She plays tough. She plays hard. Now it’s like a totally different level because shed has absolutely nothing to lose. … I think that’s when you can play your ultimate best tennis.”

In men’s fourth-round play Tuesday, 16th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia shocked No. 2 Andy Murray of Great Britain 7-5 6-2 6-2; No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina brushed aside No. 24 Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain 6-3 6-3 6-3; No. 11 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile knocked off No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 3-6 6-3 7-6 (3) 6-4; and third-seeded Rafael Nadal of Spain stopped No. 13 Gael Monfils of France 6-7 (3) 6-3 6-1 6-3.

The last time Clijsters played in the US Open, in 2005, she won the women’s singles, beating Mary Pierce of France. Injuries and then retirement, marriage and motherhood kept her away from New York until this year.

She also didn’t play here in 2004 because of injuries. The last time she lost at Flushing Meadows was to fellow Belgian Justine Henin in the 2003 championship match.

Not even Clijsters could imagine her implausible run to the US Open semifinals when she decided to return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. But she surprised even herself by her success in tournaments at Cincinnati and Toronto leading up to the year’s final Grand Slam event.

“I definitely didn’t have that idea, you know, or that thought in my head now,” she said. “But like I said before, something switched with me after Toronto where I felt like, OK, I can, you know, compete with these girls. Because that was obviously a big question in my mind.

“So I am surprised that I’m sitting here talking to you right now, but I’m very happy and, you know, flattered that I get to do that.”
Because of her time away from the tour, Clijsters will have no computer ranking until after her third tournament back – the US Open. She was given a wild card into the tournament and has become the first unseeded player to reach the semifinals at Flushing Meadows since Elena Dementieva in 2000.

Li, China’s top player, wasn’t surprised by the play of the Belgian right-hander.

“I saw her when she came back in her first tournament,” Li said. “I knew she was at a high level. She’s much stronger than other girls, so I knew if she was going to come back it must be a strong comeback.”

It was much too strong for Li, who did break Clijsters’s serve to knot the score 4-4 in the second set. But Li then made four unforced errors and Clijsters quickly wrapped up the victory and a spot in the semifinals.

She is attempting to become the third mother to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era, behind Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong. At the age of 26, Clijsters was the youngest of the four quarterfinalists in the bottom half of the draw: Li, Williams and Flavia Pennetta are all 27.

In the top half, Kateryna Bondarenko, at 23, is joined by two 19-year-olds, Caroline Wozniacki and Yanina Wickmayer, and 17-year-old Melanie Oudin. They play their quarterfinal matches on Wednesday.

“You don’t really think about the age or anything,” said Clijsters, the mother of 18-month-old Jada. “Unless like now that I’m older I look back and I’m like, ‘Wow, they’re young.’ … They look at things in a different way when they get to a Grand Slam because it’s so new.

“That’s something I think in the beginning is really good for them. But I think as they progress and they make a name on tour, I think that that will change. The pressure will gradually start to build in a little bit.

“But, you know, it’s great what they’re doing here. It’s fun to watch for me, as well.”

Ted Kennedy Was An Avid Tennis Player, Fan

The United States, as well as many around the world, mourn the death of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, called by many as one of the greatest U.S. lawmakers ever and the youngest brother of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy was an avid tennis player and fan for most of his life and was a member of his high school tennis team at Milton Academy. He also participated annually in the Robert F. Kennedy Celebrity tennis tournament at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, a very popular event in the 1970s.  Later in life, Kennedy used his tennis racquet to hit tennis balls for his dogs to retrieve.

kennedy-1 Eunice, Bobby, Ted and Jean Kennedy, left to right, children of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph P. Kennedy, line up on the tennis court of the Kennedy Estate at Palm Beach, Fla., in 1941.

kennedy-2

kennedy-3 Kennedy at the Robert F. Kennedy Celebrity tennis tournament at Forest Hills…

Rod Laver Memoir “The Education Of A Tennis Player” Published By New Chapter Press On 40th Anniversary Of 1969 Grand Slam

NEW YORK, N.Y., August 24, 2009 – New Chapter Press today announced that in the 40th anniversary year of Rod Laver’s second Grand Slam, it will publish the Australian’s memoir of his historic 1969 achievement – THE EDUCATION OF A TENNIS PLAYER.

Written with Hall of Fame journalist and historian Bud Collins, THE EDUCATION OF A TENNIS PLAYER is Laver’s first-hand account of his 1969 Grand Slam season, capped off by his 7-9, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over fellow Australian Tony Roche in the final of the U.S. Open on September 8. Laver also writes about his childhood and early days in tennis, his 1962 Grand Slam and offers tips on how players of all levels can improve their game. He also shares some of the strategies that helped him to unparalleled success on the tennis court.

THE EDUCATION OF A TENNIS PLAYER is available immediately via tennis retailer TennisWarehouse (www.TennisWarehouse.com or [email protected] or directly from New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com or [email protected]). The book will also by available at the U.S. Tennis Association Bookstore during the 2009 U.S. Open August 31 to September 13 and via traditional book retailers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia by early 2010. Special limited edition hard-cover editions of the book are available for $29.95, while paperback copies are for sale for $19.95.

Originally published in 1971, THE EDUCATION OF A TENNIS PLAYER was updated by Laver and Collins in 2009 with new content including his recovery from a near-fatal stroke in 1998. The memoir features descriptions of Laver’s most suspenseful matches and memorable portraits of his biggest rivals Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad, Tony Roche and Pancho Gonzalez.

“I am delighted that The Education of a Tennis Player is back in circulation and available for a new generation of tennis fans,” said Laver. “Winning the Grand Slam for a second time in 1969 seems just like yesterday and this book brings back a lot of memories of the great matches and exciting times. I hope people enjoy reading my story.”

Laver captured 11 major singles titles during his career, including Wimbledon in 1961, 1962, 1968 and 1969. After joining Don Budge as the only man to win a Grand Slam by sweeping all four majors in 1962, Laver turned professional where he, along with fellow pros Hoad, Rosewall and Gonzalez, were banned from playing the “amateur-only” major tournaments. When the “Open Era” of tennis began in 1968, Laver netted another five major singles titles, including his Grand Slam sweep of all four in 1969. Laver won nearly 200 singles titles during his career and was inducted into the International Tennis of Fame in 1981.

Collins, himself a 1994 inductee in the International Tennis Hall of Fame, first met Laver in 1956 at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston during the U.S. National Doubles Championships. Thirteen years later, the two collaborated on the book that was only to be published if Laver won the Grand Slam. Collins is best known for his colorful television commentary – and his colorful wardrobe – as well as his columns in the Boston Globe. Collins currently works as a commentator with ESPN2 and Tennis Channel.

“Rod Laver is one of the greatest treasures we have in tennis and The Education of a Tennis Player is one of our sports most important literary works,” said Collins. “Rod was always so humble and gracious, but he could play tennis like a hurricane. He was as a great a champion as we have ever had in tennis and one of the all-time nicest guys.”

New Chapter Press is also the publisher of THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS by Bud Collins, THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION by Rene Stauffer and BOYCOTT: STOLEN DREAMS OF THE 1980 MOSCOW OLYMPIC GAMES by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli among others. More information on New Chapter Press can be found at www.NewChapterMedia.com.

Happy Birthday Roger Federer!

Happy Birthday Roger Federer! The six-time Wimbledon champion – and new father – turns 28 Saturday, August 8 and will play his first tournament since his epic win over Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon final from July 5 this week in Montreal. Rene Stauffer, the author of the acclaimed Federer biography “The Roger Federer Story: Quest for Perfection” ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.RogerFedererBook.com) takes a look at the time when Roger was only a glimmer in his parent’s eye and his very early years in this exclusive book excerpt entitled “From Kempton Park to Basel.”

The village of Berneck is situated in the northeastern corner of Switzerland in the St. Gall Rhine valley, where the Alpine foothills are kissed by the famed Foehn winds and the inhabitants speak a rough dialect of German. The people of this village feel a closer association to Austria and its Vorarlberg state—lo­cated just on the other side of the Rhine—than they do Switzerland’s major cities of Zurich, Bern or Geneva. A few kilometers to the north, the Rhine flows into Lake Constance, where the waters comprise the borders between Switzerland, Austria and Germany.

Roger’s father, Robert, grew up in Berneck as son of a textile worker and a housewife. At the age of 20, he left the area and followed the course of the Rhine and arrived in Basel, a border city in the triangle between Switzerland, Germany and France and where the Rhine forms a knee joint and flows north out of the country. Basel is where some of the world’s most important chemical companies are headquartered and Robert Federer, a young chemi­cal laboratory worker, found his first job at Ciba, one of the world’s leading chemical companies.

After four years in Basel, Robert Federer was seized by wanderlust, and in 1970, he decided to emigrate and pull up stakes from Switzerland. It was a coincidence that he chose South Africa, but also due to formalities. Among other things, he could get an emigration visa with relative ease in the country dominated by Apartheid. It was also a coincidence that he found a new job with the same employer he had in Switzerland, Ciba. The chemical company, along with several other foreign companies, was located in Kempton Park, an extended suburb of Johannesburg near the international airport.

It was in Kempton Park where he met Lynette Durand, who came to work for Ciba as a secretary. Afrikaan was the spoken language on her family’s farm—she had three siblings; her father was a foreman and her mother was a nurse—but Lynette went to an English school and her intention was to save money as quickly as possible and to travel to Europe. She preferred England, where her father was stationed during World War II.

Robert Federer is a modest and unpretentious man who usually remains in the background. He prefers to observe and listen quietly and then to steer things in the direction desired. He is small of stature with a prominent nose and he has a distinct mustache. He is athletic, strong, quick-witted, funny, cosmopolitan and easy-going. Nothing characterizes him better than his ringing laughter that draws his eyes into narrow slits and raises his bushy eye­brows. Despite his affability, he knows how to defend himself when crossed. He is realistic but decisive. A female portrait painter once described him as being “caustic, having the bite of a bear.”

Lynette, the charming 18-year-old secretary with the piercing eyes, in­stantly made a favorable impression on Robert Federer when he saw her in the company cafeteria in 1970. They met and eventually became a couple. Robert took Lynette to the Swiss Club in Johannesburg to introduce her to his new hobby—tennis. The young woman, who used to play field hockey, was instantly enthused about the sport and began to play regularly. The couple had a wonderful time in South Africa—Apartheid hardly affected them.

Robert Federer cannot really explain why they moved to Switzerland in 1973. “You had this feeling of being a migratory bird,” he said. Back in Basel, he often asked himself why they didn’t stay in Africa, especially because his consort admitted to having difficulty with the confines of Switzerland and the narrow mentality of its people. “But one learned quickly to adjust,” she said. The couple married and a daughter, Diana, was born in 1979. Twenty-months later, Lynette Federer then bore a son, on the morning of August 8, 1981 in Basel’s canton hospital. He was named Roger because it could also be pronounced easily in English. Roger’s parents, even in the first hours of his life, felt that one day it could be beneficial for their son to have a name that was easy to pronounce in English.

The name Federer was already familiar in Berneck before 1800, but it is ac­tually an extremely uncommon clan name in Switzerland. The most famous Federer up to that point was Heinrich Federer, a priest turned poet who died in 1928. In 1966, on his 100th birthday, he was immortalized on a Swiss postage stamp.

In the 1970s, the Ciba Company that Robert and Lynette Federer continued to work for in Switzerland sponsored a tennis club in Allschwil, a suburb of Basel, and the Federer family soon became regular players. Lynette displayed a great talent for the sport with her greatest triumph coming when she was a member of the Swiss Inter-club senior championship team in 1995. She loved tennis so much that she soon became a junior tennis coach at the club. She later became involved in the tournament organization at the Swiss Indoors, the ATP tournament in Basel, working in the credential office.

Robert Federer was also a committed tennis enthusiast and was a region­ally-ranked player. He and his wife would later more frequently hit the golf course, but at the time, tennis still came first. Lynette often took her son to the tennis courts. Young Roger was fascinated by balls at a very young age. “He wanted to play ball for hours on end—even at one-and-a-half years old,” his mother recollected. His skill was plainly apparent: He could hardly walk but he managed to catch larger balls. Little Roger hit his first tennis ball over the net at three-and-a-half years old. At four, he could already hit twenty or thirty balls in a row. “He was unbelievably coordinated,” his father gushed.

The Federer family was neither rich nor poor, just solid Swiss middle class. Roger grew up in a townhouse with a yard in a quiet neighborhood in Wasserhaus in Münchenstein, a suburb of Basel. Impulsive and ambitious, he was not an easy child. “Defeats were total disasters for him, even at board games,” his father remembered. He was “a nice guy” in general “but when he didn’t like something, he could get pretty aggressive.” Dice and game board pieces sometimes flew through the living room.

Even as a little boy, his mother said, he always did as he pleased and at­tempted to push limits, whether it involved teachers at school or his parents at home or with sports. “He was very vibrant, a bundle of energy, and was sometimes very difficult,” said Lynette. When forced to do something he didn’t like, Roger reacted strongly. When bored, he questioned it or ignored it. When his father gave him instruction on the tennis court, Roger would not even look at him.

Roger was a popular boy, always friendly, not arrogant, well-behaved—and very athletic. He tried skiing, wrestling, swimming and skateboarding but it was sports that involved balls that especially fascinated him. He played soccer, handball, basketball, table tennis, tennis and, at home, he even played badminton over the neighbor’s fence. He always had a ball with him, even on the way to school. One of his idols was Michael Jordan of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. He was outdoors every free minute he could mus­ter. Work in the classroom that required concentration and sitting still wasn’t his thing. He was not an ambitious student at school and his grades were mediocre.

Robert and Lynette were the ideal parents for a sports fanatic like Roger. They let him run free when he wanted to but didn’t force him. “He had to keep moving, otherwise he became unbearable,” Lynette said. She and her husband emphasized taking up various kinds of sports. They took him to a local soccer club called Concordia Basel at an early age so that he would learn to interact with teammates and become a team player.

His mother, however, declined giving her son tennis lessons. “I considered myself not to be competent enough and he would have just upset me anyway,” she said. “He was very playful. He tried out every strange stroke and certainly never returned a ball normally. That is simply no fun for a mother.”

For hours, Roger hit tennis balls against a wall, a garage door, in his room against a wall or even against the cupboard in the house. Pictures and dishes were not safe and his sister’s room wasn’t spared either. “Things would some­times break,” Roger admits today. Diana didn’t have an easy time with her brother and was forced to put up with the antics of her rambunctious younger brother. “He would always come around shouting when I was with my friends or he would pick up the receiver when I was on the phone,” Diana said. “He really was a little devil.”

As is the case for siblings of the highly-talented, it wasn’t easy for Diana to stand in her brother’s shadow. Whenever the family went out together, Roger became more and more frequently the center of attention. Lynette took her aside once: “Diana, it’s no different for you than for your mother,” she told her daughter. “Many people talk to me but the topic is always your brother.”

Diana, an aspiring nurse, only occasionally watched her brother’s matches. For example, at the 2005 Masters Cup in Shanghai, she and her mother left the stadium in mid-match to go on a vacation to South Africa. Diana is proud of her brother but prefers not being in the limelight and doesn’t assiduously follow every detail of his career. For example, when she watched Roger play Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic at the Swiss Indoors in Basel in 2005, she had no idea that Berdych had surprisingly defeated her brother at the Athens Olympics one year earlier, dashing his dreams of an Olympic medal.

Wimbledon – A celebration and preview

It’s the last week of June, (more or less) and for millions of people worldwide that means only one thing: The Championships.

Forever seeped in history, the green courts of Wimbledon have effortlessly produced drama, emotion, elation and despair in equal measure. With every passing year, as each generation of players with some truly great champions set foot on the hallow grounds of SW19 one thing remains consistent.

The atmosphere.

The Australian open, placed so near to the beginning of the new tennis season, has the intense heat, passionate and knowledgeable (if sometimes a little boisterous) crowd and a frequent flurry of surprise packages as lower ranked players pull of some world beating shocks after a hard graft off-season.

Four months later and the hard courts of the first third of the season are long gone – replaced by the unique challenge of the slow, sapping clay surface. In Paris the grand showpiece of the red stuff is at Roland Garros where the world’s best have to deal with a notoriously partisan crowd – who can turn on a contender with great speed and conviction – as well as the punishing dirt.

August sees the glitz and glam of New York crammed onto a tennis court. The US Open at Flushing Meadows offers some of the sport’s most impressive and intimidating arenas with a patriotic spectatorship who let their presence be known amidst the superfast hardcourt surface.

With each of these events and the many Tier 1/Premier/Masters events the guarantee of truly world class action is delivered. But nothing quite compares to those two weeks in south west London where it is an overriding sense of tradition and (as with so many British sporting events) an unparalleled sense of history.

It remains the ultimate prize for the players, and has done throughout the eons. It is here that the idols and icons of the sport would have been broadcast all over the world and for two weeks would inspire fans, and future professionals alike.

This hasn’t been the case for everyone of course. Some foreign players find the all white dress code and unfamiliar surface a real problem. Mary Pierce once claimed the championships was not “ very player-friendly” citing that ‘there are a lot of things which make it different to other tournament sand it isn’t one I look forward to”. Former world number one and (criminally only) two time Grand Slam winner Marat Safin has notoriously been anti-Wimbledon despite his semi final run last year: “Let’s not talk about Wimbledon…It’s not really the place for me”.

There are other- more understandable reasons why many players haven’t embraced the event: the prize money only became equal for men and women in 2008 after a lengthy campaign by the leading names of the WTA. The surface itself has caused many current women to act indifferently when they lose at Wimbledon knowing that in a week’s time, the grass season will be over and the infinitely more familiar hard courts will return. Current world number one Dinara Safina echoes her brother sentiments: “I’m always arguing with my coach, who tells me I can play there…I don’t understand this surface…I’m fighting badly with it”.

In 2001 the unique seeding strategy (where a players tournament rank can be influenced by past grass court results) led many of the Spanish clay specialists to boycott the tournament altogether: Juan Carlos Ferrero, Albert Costa and Gustavo Kuerten all asked for a fairer reflection. A lengthy battle ensued an today we have 32 seeds instead of 16, but the All England club still reserves the right to alter the order of those 32 based on grass court form.

Some players haven’t even bothered to turn up at all and this includes high profile names such as Ivan Lendl and (for a time) Andre Agassi.

Yes, Wimbledon still hinders rather than helps the attempt to bring tennis to the masses in the UK (something that Andy Murray’s youthful self-assurance and rags to riches image has done much to change). Unlike the other Slams, the exclusivity and air of the upper classes still hangs in the air. But the pomp and ceremony only intensifies the whole occasion and in some eyes restores some sense of intimacy and grace to a game now dominated by the modern world’s obsession with athleticism, technology and celebrity that every modern sporting event is expected to deliver.

True, the face of the Championships has changed since it was first held in 1877. In 1980 service line monitor ‘Cyclops’ was first used, with service speed guns introduced eleven years later. A new broadcast centre and the stunning new No.1 court were opened in 1997 whilst most recently giant television screens and the Hawk-Eye ball tracking device have ensured the tournament remains technologically fresh-faced.

This year, the final stage of the ‘Long term plan’ (drawn up in 1993 to ensure Wimbledon continued to represent the very summit of the sport) will be showcased – a retractable roof.

2009 will be the first year whereby the elements will not affect proceeding on centre court – an occurrence that has arguably decided many a great match as players’ momentum shifts to and fro with every delayed intermission.

So what of this year? Technological advancements aside, one thing we are not promised is a repeat of the truly epic men’s singles final from last year where the very core of the shift in the modern game was showcased in the sports greatest stage. Rafael Nadal the very encapsulation of today’s power game defeated five time champion Roger Federer, a stalwart of the classic tennis makeup; success won through tactics, technique and fluidity.

Nadal’s absence leaves a rather empty feel to this years event, as despite his godlike but ultimately unattractive way of playing may not necessarily be missed, the loss of the defending champion is always damaging.

Federer of course remains favourite to triumph. Full of confidence from his superb win at Roland Garros and now fully rested both physically and mentally after skipping his usual grass court warm-up event in Halle – the Swiss maestro remains the most complete player on grass by some margin.

Andy Murray will too be brimming with self-belief after winning at Queens (albeit against a significantly depleted field), and with a playing style similar to Nadals but perhaps just that bit more suited to the green stuff he is very capable of taking the title. Add to this the tremendous home support (not quite at Henmania levels just yet as the Scot’s on court brashness hasn’t endeared him to all) and a winning record against Federer and you have a home grown talent who has never been better equipped succeed.

Elsewhere, my picks in the men’s game remain with the grass court specialists despite the courts themselves playing all too similarly to their hard court cousins as the years have gone on. Roddick, Simon, Wawrinka and at a stretch the 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt all have the game for grass.

Such is the inconsistency of the women’s game at the moment, that it is only the Williams sisters who really shine out as a safe bet. Elsewhere it really could be anyone, as the new breed of yet more baseliners continue to sine one week and then crumble the next. Of them Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniaki and Agnieska Radwanska will do well whilst the recovering Maria Screamapova is always dangerous despite never repeating her success of 2004.