The best tennis biography I have read…here is an excerpt.
“Standing in the bathroom mirror, toweling off, I stare at my face. Red eyes, gray stubble – a face totally different from the one with which I started. But also different from the one I saw last year in this same mirror. Whoever I might be, I’m not the boy who started this odyssey, and I’m not even the man who announced three months ago that the odyssey was coming to an end. I’m like a tennis racket on which I’ve replaced the grip four times and the strings seven times – is it accurate to call it the same racket? Somewhere in those eyes, however, I can still vaguely see the boy who didn’t want to play tennis in the first place, the boy who wanted to quit, the boy who DID quit many times. I see that golden-haired boy who hated tennis, and I wonder how he would view this bald man, who still hates tennis and yet still plays. Would he be shocked? Amused? Proud? The question makes me weary, lethargic, and it’s only noon.
Please let this be over.
I am not ready for this to be over.
The finish line at the end of a career is no different from the finish line at the end of a match. The objective is to get within reach of that finish line, becasue then it gives off a magnetic force. When you’re close, you can feel that force pulling you, and you can use that force to get acress. But just before you come within range, or just after, you feel another force, equally strong, pushing you away. It’s inexplicable, mystical, these twin forces, these contradictory energies, but they both exist. I know, because I’ve spent much of my life seeking the one, fighting the other, and sometimes I’ve been stuck, suspended, bounced like a tennis ball between the two.
Tonight: I remind myself that it will require iron discipline to cope with these forces, and whatever else comes my way. Back pain, bad shots, foul weather, self-loathing. It’s a form of worry, this reminder, but also meditation. One thing I’ve learned in twenty-nine years of playing tennis: Life will throw everything but the kitchen sink in your path, and then it will throw the kitchen sink. It’s your job to avoid the obstacles. If you let them stop you or distract you, you’re not doing your job, and failing to do your job will cause regrets that paralyze you more than a bad back. “