Line(s) of the Day #ArthurAshe

Arthur Ashe

Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.

Three time Grand Slam champion and four time Davis Cup winner Arthur Ashe (1943 – 1993). As well as his impressive achievements on the court, he was a true inspiration off it. Ashe played a crucial role in forming the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), vigorously campaigned against racism even during his career and set up the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS and Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health.

Line(s) of the Day #AndyRoddick

andy-roddick

People say, “You retired too young.” And I counter that by saying “I got a head start on the rest of my life.”

Andy Roddick, who along with four-time slam winner Kim Clijsters and four-time Paralympic tennis wheelchair medallist Monique Kalkman-van den Bosch, will be inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame. During his highly-consistent career Roddick was an ATP World Number One, won the Davis Cup, was in the top 5 for 187 weeks and memorably won the US Open. Since his retirement the 34-year old Texan native has concentrated on his family, broadcasting career, commercial real estate companies and the Andy Roddick Foundation.

Line(s) of the Day #AndyMurray

Andy Murray.jpg

I never thought I’d be number one in the world. It’s been many years of work to get here.

Two-time Olympic champion, two-time Wimbledon champion, US Open and Davis Cup winner Andy Murray. Murray is the first British tennis player to be ranked top since the ATP rankings came into play in 1973, and achieved it seven years after first being ranked second.

Film Quizzes: #SportingUnderdogs

At Wimbledon earlier this year, world number 772 tennis play Marcus Willis shocked the tennis world by winning three pre-qualifying matches and then 3 qualifying matches to make the main draw. His unexpected rise continued when he beat Ricardis Berankis, the 53rd best player, in the first round. Though he lost to 7-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in the second round, the part-time tennis coach had increased his earnings that year from £258 after deciding not to give up on the game

As Willis plays in Tie Break Tens tonight, a special $250,000 tie break event in Vienna featuring some of the biggest names in the sport, I thought I’d do a sporting underdog quiz in his honour. Do you have a favourite one, real or fictional? How have you done this time around?

film-quiz-sporting-underdogs-film-1 1. (1970s)

film-quiz-sporting-underdogs-film-2 2. (1980s)

film-quiz-sporting-underdogs-film-3 3. (1990s)

film-quiz-sporting-underdogs-film-4 4. (1990s)

film-quiz-sporting-underdogs-film-5 5. (1990s)

film-quiz-sporting-underdogs-film-6 6. (2000s)

film-quiz-sporting-underdogs-film-10 7. (2000s)

film-quiz-sporting-underdogs-film-7 8. (2000s)

MCDWIMB EC018 9. (2000s)

film-quiz-sporting-underdogs-film-9 10. (2000s)

film-quiz-sporting-underdogs-film11 11. (2000s)

film-quiz-sporting-underdogs-film12 12. (2000s)

Answers below

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Photography: Short Stories and Sports Books

I’ve always had a big interest in books. And amid my interest in the classic and the contemporary novels, I’ve had a big passion for short stories and sports books. I’ve quoted a few of them on my Literature and Sports pages but wanted to share them as pictorial form. You’ll find these two photos and plenty of others on my Instagram page of Raphaelalexx.

short-stories

sports-books

Line(s) of the Day #JuanMartindelpotro

Juan Martin del Potro

I don’t know him. For two years I was at home, watching `The Simpsons.’

Argentinian tennis star Juan Martin del Potro when asked if he knew anything about his next opponent John-Patrick Smith. The 2009 winner of the US Open has had rotten luck with injuries, and played only 14 matches in two years.

Line(s) of the Day #AndyRoddick

Andy Roddick

At one point in your life, you either have the thing you want, or the reasons why you don’t.

Former World Number One American tennis player Andy Roddick (1982 – ), who won the US Open in 2003. He is the last American male to win a Grand Slam.

Reviews and Other Features: Open

Andre AgassiWorld Number One tennis player for 101 weeks. Winner of 8 Grand Slams. The First American to complete a career grand slam. The first male to win all four different slams on three different surfaces. Gold medal winner in the 1996 Olympics. Three time Davis Cup winner. Oldest male to be ranked Number One.

And yet there is so much more to Andre Agassi. His phenomenal achievements not withstanding, much of what made Agassi so popular during his career was his rebellious, charismatic attitude. This was a man who wore outrageous clothes on court, was known for his earrings and ponytail and boycotted Wimbledon for years as he hated the dress code. Not to mention the Nike TV advert where he tells the camera “Image is Everything”, and got thrown out of a tournament for swearing at the line judges.

And what is astonishing about this autobiography is just how honest Agassi is. Beginning with a description of his Second Round match in the US Open in what he has already announced will be his last tournament, we feel the torture and total punishment he is putting his body through. For a man who repeatedly admits in his book how much he hates the sport, it is astonishing that he is still playing at the highest level at 36.

Because this is far more than an autobiography and a list of his achievements a set of people to thank. This is a man laying to bed a set of ghosts that have haunted him his whole life. Ever since he was born and his father, a former Olympic boxer, had already decided to make his youngest child the world’s best tennis player.

We see just how little of a childhood Agassi had. Hours after hours spent returning balls from the ‘Dragon’, a device that shoots balls at him at incredible speeds, made even harder by his father’s adapting of the hose for a more challenging angle. And in one of the few times he seems happy in his life, with a girlfriend and new best friend, he is dragged away to a new tennis camp set up by Nick Bollettieri. Expected to be just three months, his talent is such that he is told to stay there and his fees will be covered by the Academy.

But Agassi’s ability is extraordinary and soon after going professional he is qualifying for the later stages of Grand Slams. He is able to recall the slightest of details throughout his career. That includes his magnificent achievements, as well as shattering losses, including his first three losing Grand Slam finals.

Amazingly enough, for what their rivalry would later become, Agassi admits to feeling sorry for Pete Sampras after he demolishes him early in their career. He feels Sampras’ game has been tinkered with and he won’t make it. Yes, that Sampas who would later win 14 Grand Slams and be Agassi’s biggest rival.

The book isn’t without controversy. Agassi admits to using recreational drugs when his life is in turmoil after his marriage. He admits how stupid a decision that was, and how awful a moment when he was caught by drug testers. This is without doubt the most shocking part of the book and it’s hard not to feel disappointed in him.

There are plenty of unflattering mentions for rivals on and off the court. Nick Bollettieri is described as a bully and his tennis academy as like a prison camp, Sampras as robotic and miserly in terms of tipping, Boris Becker for flirting with his then girlfriend Brooke Shields and criticising him in public, and Michael Chang for letting his religious beliefs become part of the match. Jeff Tarango is said to have called a match-winning point out when it was in, when playing against an eight year-old Agassi in a juniors tournament.

But this is not a book about points scoring. Agassi spares no detail why his marriage to actress Brooke Shields ended, the devastation of losing his hair in his twenties and how he wouldn’t be where he is without his closest friends. Long-time trainer Gil Reyes, his coach Brad Gilbert, his older brother Philly, best friend Perry and local pastor JP all have moving descriptions.

For all his demons, it’s clear Agassi has finally found what he is looking for. He is happily married to Steffi Graf with two children, his Children’s Educational Foundation is helping thousands, and he finally has a better understanding of his parents. Quite a few people will have wanted him to keep things to himself, but whatever others think, Agassi is happy having put things out in the open.