5 books for tennis fans

Literature to get you in a tennis state of mind.

Open by Andre Agassi

As the title suggests, Open is a searingly honest account of Andre Agassi’s tennis career, revealing his love-hate relationship with the game, his rigorous training and his struggles and comebacks on and off the court. From a rebellious 16 year old to winning Grand Slams to becoming the oldest man ever ranked number one, Agassi brings to life some of his most pivotal tennis matches and the personal battles fought with his own loss of self-confidence. As much as it is a sports memoir, it’s a story of a man falling and getting back up again, told with courage and clarity.

The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance by W. Timothy Gallwey

“Every game is composed of two parts, an outer game and an inner game.” This inner game, W. Timothy Gallwey says in his 1972 classic, is the one played inside your head, against the self-doubt, nerves, and lapses of concentration that stop you from playing your best. The Inner Game of Tennis became a bestseller long before sports psychology existed – many pro tennis champs have cited it as changing the way they play, and Billie Jean King called it her ‘bible.’ The new edition refines Gallwey’s insights and theories on concentration, awareness, gamesmanship, breaking bad habits and learning to trust yourself on court, providing strategies grounded in zen thinking that help you to overcome interfering thoughts and just play good tennis.

A Terrible Splendor by Marshall Jon Fisher

Take a courtside seat at one of the most thrilling and significant tennis matches ever played. In 1937, on the brink of WWII, Don Budge faced off against Baron Gottfried von Cramm for the 1937 Davis Cup in an intense deciding match on the hallowed Centre Court at Wimbledon. It was a fight between the world’s number one player and the world’s number two, and for von Cramm the stakes were particularly high – it was his sporting success that was keeping him safe from the Nazis. A Terrible Splendor moves between a play-by-play account of the match and the events leading Germany, Britain and America into war, blending the social significance of the sport with international drama.

Handful of Summers by Gordon Forbes

If you want an inside glimpse of life on the international tennis circuit during the 50s and 60s, this witty and memorable cult classic is the book for you. South African former tennis pro Gordon Forbes looks back with laughter on his life shared with world-class players, at a time where the likes of Fred Perry, Roy Emerson, Lew Hoad, Tony Trabert, Rod Laver and Virginia Wade ruled the courts. It’s a coming of age story, tracing Forbes’ path from childhood on a farm in South Africa, where he learned to play tennis on a gravel court, to travelling the world with his long-time tennis partner Abe Segal. More than the game itself, A Handful of Summers recalls the antics and escapades of the players off the court, providing a warm account of life in the pre-Open era.

Rod Laver: A Memoir by Rod Laver

From one of Australia’s most revered sporting champions comes a moving new memoir, tracing the journey of a country boy from Rockhampton to unparalleled Grand Slam success. Rod Laver was a power force in tennis for two decades, and he recalls in vivid detail the challenges, victories, great players and incredible matches along the way. It’s a nostalgic trip through the life of one of the world’s best tennis players and provides a thrilling snapshot of the golden era of Australian tennis. Laver also reflects on some of his major off-court life events – suffering a stroke in 1998, and losing his beloved wife Mary in 2012 among the most poignant – bringing a deeply personal touch to a story of remarkable sporting achievement.

What’s your favourite tennis book? Tell us using #GenBetter

Recommended reading - Issue Fifteen Autumn 2016

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