Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Tennis Addict

French Open ball boy sheltering a junior player between games.

I’m an unabashed tennis addict. It’s my mother’s fault. She indoctrinated me at a very young age. Wimbledon was the highlight of our year. I remember my heart pounding when she would draw the curtains to keep the June light out of the living room so we could see the ball clearer. Our 9” television screen needed all the help it could get. And then the players would walk on…

Don’t tell her, but Wimbledon was the only thing for which I skipped school.

Once a year, she and I would make the pilgrimage to Wimbledon by bus, train and tube to line up all night so that we could get standing room “under the clock” on Centre Court. We’d camp out on the pavement with all the other addicts counting the hours until they let us in the grounds. We had to pass by the strawberries and cream that were offered in mouth-watering profusion, but we did have our own sandwiches and a flask of tea. It was the best of times.

Now I’m lucky enough to have gone to all the majors – Australia, France and, of course, the US. We even have a really large TV with high definition. My mother and I marvel at how clear the ball is. But along with a clear ball comes other surprises – skin tone. I’m shocked at the sun damage on the players’ faces. I know this may seem trivial in the light of perfecting the ultimate drop shot, but a tennis player’s professional life is a short one and then what? Brown spots forever. I wish some of these highly-paid coaches would throw in a little skincare advice for women and men alike. My ultimate tennis hero is Roger Federer but even he is getting some uneven pigmentation – on his right cheekbone, I believe.

If anyone knows him, please let him know that I’m available to tell him about the dangers of UVB and UVA rays – that’s if I could stop staring long enough to get my tongue moving.