The Wimbledon reading list
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The Championships is to tennis fans what the world cup is to cricket and football followers. For two weeks every year, the Centre Court at Wimbledon becomes a space that brings to the fore tennis loyalties, cheers, grunts, disappointment, aces and ecstasy.
For those who prefer reliving the greatest moments in tennis history through words, here are our picks of some of the best all-time tennis reads so far—a riveting account of a match that took place just before World War II, a rivalry that has transcended superlatives, and an intimate peek into the lives of tennis superstars past and present.
A Terrible Splendor—Three Extraordinary Men, A World Poised For War, And The Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played
By Marshall Jon Fisher
Some rivalries on the tennis court are nothing short of war. But before Björn Borg and John McEnroe clashed, and Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal redefined modern tennis, one of the biggest tennis rivalries saw the American Don Budge go face to face with Baron Gottfried von Cramm of Germany in the deciding match of the 1937 Davis Cup at Wimbledon.
Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression and on the brink of World War II—where Budge played for the pride of his nation while Cramm played for his life, and to stay away from the clutches of the Nazi Party back home—A Terrible Splendor is an enthralling mix of sporting spectacles and political stakes.
Break Point—The Inside Story Of Modern Tennis
By Kevin Mitchell
“The Golden Age of Tennis”, as many call it, owes its true roots to four remarkable individuals: Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. The streaks, stamina and skills these four have exhibited have added to the sport’s growing appeal. But form, in sporting language, is temporary. In recent times, the dominance of “the Big Four” has faced a considerable challenge from a new breed of players. In Break Point, Kevin Mitchell looks at how the old guard met the challenge of young contenders determined to take their share of the court.
By Andre Agassi
One of the greatest players to ever grace the tennis court absolutely despised the sport during his childhood. During a professional career that spanned two decades, the American Andre Agassi won eight Grand Slams and an Olympic gold. Yet, success never came easy to him—he suffered failed relationships, depression and the constant pressure to succeed. Open captures the life of a sports star and the ups and downs of overnight success perfectly.
On The Line
By Serena Williams with Daniel Paisner
It is hard to encapsulate in words the sheer grit, willpower and tenacity that fuelled Serena Williams to tennis greatness—23 Grand Slam singles titles, which puts her second on the all-time list behind former Australian player and world No.1 Margaret Court. As a young girl growing up in the neighbourhood of Compton, California, Williams started training with a racket that was almost as big as her. It was never easy for her—niggling injuries, personal losses and problems on the court persisted. But instead of dropping the racket, she faced everything that was thrown at her. From accounts of training under her father on public courts that were like minefields to accomplishments that have made her one of the biggest stars in tennis, On The Line is a tennis memoir like no other.
Strokes Of Genius—Federer, Nadal, And The Greatest Match Ever Played
By L. Jon Wertheim
The 2008 Wimbledon final was supposed to be Federer’s coronation as the most dominant player in the history of the game. The Centre Court, and everyone watching, waited with bated breath, but a certain left-handed Spaniard had other plans. As the author writes, the then 22-year-old Nadal prevailed in five high-intensity sets, in what was “essentially a four-hour, forty-eight-minute infomercial for everything that is right about tennis—a festival of skill, accuracy, grace, strength, speed, endurance, determination, and sportsmanship”. In Strokes Of Genius, Wertheim recreates the memorable final that gave us the Federer-Nadal rivalry.