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My birthday is coming up, and I could not think of a better present to demand (;)) than a tennis book.

I find myself facsinated by the pre-open era (especially lil' Mo, Lenglen and Wills-Moody, as well as Big Bill Tilden and the magnificant Australian gang), as well as the Borg-McEnroe rivalery and Lendl's revoloution of the men's game. I don't really care that much for this century's tennis (though I really enjoyed Venus Envy), and I often find myself reading about verious years from the first half of the last decade in Bud Collins' Tennis Encyclopedia.

What do you think are the best books in the realms of tennis I mentioned? I would really appreciate any opinion here.
 

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Nimi said:
My birthday is coming up, and I could not think of a better present to demand (;)) than a tennis book.

I find myself facsinated by the pre-open era (especially lil' Mo, Lenglen and Wills-Moody, as well as Big Bill Tilden and the magnificant Australian gang), as well as the Borg-McEnroe rivalery and Lendl's revoloution of the men's game. I don't really care that much for this century's tennis (though I really enjoyed Venus Envy), and I often find myself reading about verious years from the first half of the last decade in Bud Collins' Tennis Encyclopedia.

What do you think are the best books in the realms of tennis I mentioned? I would really appreciate any opinion here.
"A Handful of Summers" by Gordon Forbes (the best tennis book, in my opinion)

"Passing Shots" by Pam Shriver

"Hard Courts" by John Feinstein

"Being Myself" by Martina Navratilova

"The Courts of Babylon" by Peter Bodo

"My Life with the Pros" by Bud Collins

Most of the other tennis books are pretty dreadful, especially Wertheim's book and the recent one on the Evert-Navratilova rivalry.
 

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I haven't read all those on Samn's list but those I have a well worth reading. You should try and get hold of We Have Come a Long Way, written by BJK and Cynthia Starr, a history of women's tennis which covers the period from the 19870s up to Graf's accession as Queen. Although you have to bear in mind the values and agenda of the author herself (not difficult because she doesn't let you forget them for very long) when reading this account of the development of women's tennis, I think you would find it a very rich source of information and perspectives on the tennis greats you mention. There are contributions by many of the top women players over the years in addition to the main text and the photos are well selected to give a feeling for the games of the greats.
 

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I loved 'Ladies of the court', an early 90's version of Venus Envy more focused in tennis and less in cheap gossip (still some lovely anecdotes like Judith Wiesner's husband fear of flying and the relaxed approach to the Tour from Judith)
 

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If you are interested in pre-open Era then one of the best books is a collection of articles in the book "Fireside of Tennis". This book is divided into three sections that cover the players, great matches and tournaments (organised by year) and technique. The articles are taken from newspapers and magazines throughout the last century. The book was compiled in the early 70's so it is out of print but you can find it at sometimes on ebay.
 

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Andrew Tas picked out a gem IMO. "Fireside" is well worth it-Alison Danzig can't be beat as a tennis writer and it features him a lot. It's one huge book too.

My favorite is "Gallery of Champions" by Helen Jacobs. She ranks all the women who won majors (in her day the French, US, and Wimbledon) and then devotes a chapter to each one. She mixes in her own experiences against each woman.
More than any book "Gallery" got me into tennis of the 20s and 30s.

Bill Tilden's book "The Art of Tennis" is online for free. Has anyone ever read that?

I just bought "Game of Nations" by Suzanne Lenglen on ebay and can't wait to dig into it.
 

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Two all-time fave tennis autobiographies of mine: the first, which seems well-known on Blast "I Always Wanted to Be Somebody" by Althea Gibson, and the second which I rarely ever see mentioned, "Man With a Racket" by Pancho Gonzales. Both of those I read while quite young and left an impression upon me, but a more recent excellent one I've read (partly due to Alfajeffster's recommendation here) "Court on Court" gave me an appreciation for Margaret I'd never previously held. Like the other two books mentioned, I found her candor rather refreshing, as I never felt she ducked an issue or was bullshitting the reader. She also comes across as very centered and grounded; not one to change her viewpoints due to social pressure or whatnot. I admire that trait.
 

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Thanks to AndyT, I was able to read "HOME: The Evonne Goolagong Story" by Evonne and Phil Jarratt, and have since purchased a copy. It is (so far) the absolute best tennis player autobiography I have ever read. She was and is an incredible human being, and I still find myself re-reading portions of it for personal inspiration.

Good for you! Read on!
 

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The books I have read include:

1) Being Myself by Martina Navratilova and George Vecsey

2) The Lives and Times of Martina Navratilova by Adrienne someone or other..

3)Passing Shots by Pam Shriver, Frank Deford, Susan Adams

4)Pat Cash's autobiography

5) John Mcenroes autobiography

6) Home By Evonne Goolagong

7) Billie Jeans autobiography

8) Venus Envy

9) Ted Tinlings Autobiography

10) The Rivalry - Chris and Martina

Unlike Alfa, I found Evonne's book pretty boring, not much stuff I wasnt aware of in there, and I felt a bit frustrated like Evonne didnt really embrace her aboriginal heritage so much.

The FUNNIEST sports (nevermind tennis) book I have ever read is Pam Shrivers passing shots..Its personal, candid and just so F_cken funny! Its the one book I could read over and over.

Martina's is the best autobiography in terms of honesty and candidness. Although its frustrating that it ends in the Mid 80's so you miss all the twilight of her career, the Graf, seles years etc..

Ted Tinlings book is fantastic in terms of learning about stars from the first half of the 20th century.. Id recommend that one given the era that you prefer..

Billie Jeans is a great read, Johnny Mac's is good if not terribly self indulgent, Pat Cashs is just one big load of shit, and the Lives and Times of Martina Id only recommend if you are a fan of Martina's and cant get enough..

I actually enjoyed reading the Rivalry, thought it was pretty informative and enjoyable.

 

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Good idea to do a complete rundown, Czechfan. That way, all opinions on all bios/autobios are in one place.
Here goes:

Goolagong: Home! Brilliant. As it covers Evonn'e life and her career, readers interested from a purely tennis perspective may find it frustrating at times but I found it rivetting from start to finish. It's also very well written. *****

Evert: Chrissie by Amdur - v. good, though it ends well before her career did, so we miss out on both the take on her final years and the persepctive that gave her on her whole career. Amdur is a very sympathetic biographer. ****

Lloyd on Lloyd by Carol Thatcher (Maggie's daughter) - some gems of quotes and insights into the ice maiden and interesting in its coverage of the marriage and its effect on Chris and her career. Not a classic, however. ***

Navratilova: Being Myself with George Vecsey. Again this one stops in 84/5 so the last decade and beyond are not covered, so the book is written in the perspective of "the rise of" rather than "the rise and fall of". Like Czechfan I found it frank and not sanitised. ****

Martina Unauthorised: Adrienne Blue. Less flattering than the above and more revelatory in terms of the trials and truibulations of Martina's love life and her family's reaction to her lesbianism. It also covers more of her career but suffers from the author's lack of access to the subject. ***

Shriver: Passing Shots. I'd heard so many good things about this book that I was a bit disappointed when I actually got to reading it but even so, it is a unique view into the merry-go-round and pressures of a top tenner as they are being lived. Pam's openness, wit and honesty make it a very engaging read. ***

Smith-Court. The Margaret Smith Story. *** Covers the first few years of her career (so again from the perpective of the top) and is an interesting insight into the tennis world of the early 60s. Much of it was condensed or recycled in Court's second autobio "Court on Court", which, being written at the end of her career is more comprehensive in its coverage and more mature in its perspective. Margaret is quite forthright and scathing about some of her rivals! ****

Virginia Wade, Courting Triumph. ** The rather genuous naive/style, together with the Virginia Woolf/The Waves style interludes covering the Stove final which punctuate the narrative irritated me. She doesn't even mention her Aussie Open win in 1972!

Ann Jones: Courting Triumph. I liked this one. Ann's modesty and understatement make it a pleasant read and she takes a self-critical, no nonsense approach. ****

BJ King - Deford. Rather too admirative in its tone for my taste. ** Not as good as

BJ King an autobiography. Love her or hate her, you have to respect this woman. Billie Jean's incredible energy, passion for tennis and her driving force are well transmitted in this autobio. It's a good insight into her philosophy, concerns and priorities. ****

John Feinstein's "Hard Courts", a year-on-the-tour offering was an enjoyable read, helped by the choice of year: 1990. ***

I've yet to read the books by/about Austin, Jaeger, Mandlikova, Angela Mortimer and Christine Truman plus "Rivals" and I deeply regret that there are no book by Maria Bueno, Darlene Hard, Rosie Casals, Frankie Durr, Nancy Richey and Lesley Turner. Maybe one day.... Pepetaco ? :))
 

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Someone is selling "The Rivalry" on EBAY for 4 dollars US.

http://cgi.ebay.com/THE-RIVALS-CHRIS-EVERT-JOHNETTE-HOWARD-HBK-MINT-UNREAD_W0QQitemZ4580371660QQcategoryZ378QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

I'll second Czechfan on Tinling's book "Love and Faults". He knew Lenglen, Tilden ,and Wills. His first meeting with Suzanne was when he was picked to umpire one of her matches as a fill-in. I like how he's opinionated (he really has favorites and villains) yet brutally honest when it comes to their darker sides. Parts of this book (Lenglen throwing her doubles partners clothes out a second story window) made me LOL.

The part I liked best about Martina's book was when she talked about her grandmother. If you are/were close to your granny that chapter will get you all teary eyed.

Whatever book(s) you read share with us what you think Nimi-happy reading
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Wow, thanks a lot, you really helped me here.

I would like to hear a bit more about A Handful of Summers and The Courts of Babylon. Anyone?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Well, I actually got some info about those here, so it is no longer needed.

I'd like to thank all of you again - you really helped me out! I think I'll get Rafter's autobiography as I adore this man, and possibly Gallery of Chmapions, Fireside and Ten Tinling's autobiography.
 

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Rollo said:
...The part I liked best about Martina's book was when she talked about her grandmother. If you are/were close to your granny that chapter will get you all teary eyed...
Now ya gonna get Dolores Richman all vaklempt. I can't take it. Tawlk amongst yaselves! Here's a topic: To bubbie or not to bubbie. Discuss.:lol:
 

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Andy T - Re Passing shots.. Only 2 stars?? I guess there was too much build up for you, but i went into reading it prety blind...

I guess Im just a lover of trash and loved reading about all the locker room hissyfits with Chris (Pam not inviting her to her small birthday party dinner and incurring chrissies wrath!!), bitching about chrissies doubles partners and how manipulative they were (the # 1 ranked player of whatever country she was playing in)..the constant excuses after every loss..the moaning about never fulfilling expectations.. and just generally taking the piss out of herself (as aussies like to say)..I love how Pam makes fun of herself..

I found Evonne to be quite a struggle..I enjoyed the parts where she was running you through big matches etc.. But just found it strangely missing something. Feel like Evonne was very under the thumb.. was touching in parts though when talking about living in the tinny shack in Barellan...Ive passed through Barellan and its a major hole :)

I found Ted Tinling to be quite eloquent, loved reading about the controversies with Gussy Morant?? and the bloomers or whatever they were at wimbledon.. laughed at the bits about Bill Tilden and his taste for the young ball boys etc...
 
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