Wimbledon Memories July 7, 2008Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, india, Media, Memory, People, Personal, Sport, Sports, World, Writing.
Tags: centre court memories, Edberg, grass court tennis, Lawn Tennis, lawn tennis rivalries, Martina Navratilova, Sabatini, serve and volley, Steffi Graf, Television Memories, tennis, Wimbledon
Once upon a time in India there used to be one and only 1 television channel. It was called Doordarshan, which is a literal translation of the word ‘Television’. The State used to control all media and most of it was boring. Worse still it was dirty. The reception was pathetic with ghosting on most days. Running to the terrace to turn the antenna 360 degrees, in the vain hope of catching the perfect airwaves, was an errand I initially grew to like and then detest. Boosters also made their entry and exit.
There was the proverbial silver lining also. Chitrahar for the Bollywood obsessed, Sunday films, Quiz Time, Showtime, Mashoor Mahal. I have written about these in 2 of my earlier blogs also….Days and Nights with Television part 1 and 2.
Lives changed for the better when the Grand Slams (French, Wimbledon, American and Australian) became a fixture. Every year these 4 events and more so the Wimbledon and French Open were eagerly awaited. Entire families used to sit around the television sets and watch the matches. They had no clue about the rules. I didn’t. Leant it all by watching.
First I understood Wimbledon and then when the French Open guys became parochial with the use of French I thought the rules of tennis had changed. I quickly gained composure and realized that they were wooing the same maiden but in a different language.
Those days the grass was gray and the clay too. My family had a black and white set till 1988. From 89 the picture became even more glamorous, with the entry of a color Onida.
I love Martina Navratilova. I never saw Billie Jean play except in vignettes, but Martina and her rivalry with Chrish Evert and the continuing saga with Steffi Graf is the pith of all tennis memory. Graf’s rivalry with the beautiful Sabatini. My sister adored Graf and I Miss Navratilova. She used to abuse her by calling her a horse. I didn’t mind that.
Horse indeed she was who 9 times out of ten would serve and move, glide towards the net, wait for the return and volley. Even if Navratilova missed the return or hit the volley out, lost the point, she would do the same thing again. It was not because of lack of strategy or tactics.
It was the way lawn tennis was supposed to be played. There is a certain dance to the entire movement. It is true that only certain people can serve and volley. Martina did. And so did Stefan Edberg and not to forget the maverick Boris Becker. Mats Wilander another Swede. Miloslav Mecir who lost an agonizing 5 setter.
I still remember the legendary match when Sabatini was about to beat Graf at the Wimbledon finals. It was the 3rd set and Sabatini was this close…we were biting nails…everybody wanted Sabatini to win because she was the beautiful loser…and the lights went off in our locality. We cursed in front of elders. It was ok that day. We lost our wits and then ran inside. Switched on the Panasonic radio, tuned into BBC radio. By then Sabatini had lost her serve and in a few moments Graf won the match. The lights came back for the prize ceremony and we all felt sorry.
A grace enveloped them the moment the ball left their palms, curved in the air, touched by the gentle or no breeze, got smacked by the racquet, your body propelled on its own towards the net; is it going to be down the court, a topspinner, a cross – court pass, a lob; the players still rushing towards the net – to volley; to change stance, racquet position, movement, plan, direction…the dive.
You don’t see it any more.
Yestrday’s match between Nadal and Federer brought back many a memory. Of family, cheering, support, agony and loss. Who would have thought Federer would come back? Or coming back still lose? And it didn’t matter who won. That’s for the record books. What we saw was a game. A match.
A match which was about passion, aggression, devotion, competition, hope, struggle, rivalry, proving a point and last but not the least – respect to your opponent and grace in loss and victory.
Wish they could serve and volley a bit more.