T is for Tennis

The U.S. Open has started (yay!), so now is a good time to learn more about this fascinating game. In its earliest form, players did not use racquets, only their bare hands – which would probably be a lot more painful now returning serves up to 100 mph. The game itself may not have changed too much in its history, but the names and faces lighting up the court have. Here’s a list of books about the game and the people who play. Hopefully, one might inspire you to give tennis a try (and not just by using the Wii remote, either…).

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Annotations are courtesy of NoveList Plus, unless otherwise noted. (Those with * are highly recommended by yours truly.)

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Breaking Back: How Lost Everything and Won Back My Life – James Blake with Andrew Friedman

  • A rising tennis star describes how his career was jeopardized by a freak accident on the court that broke his back; how his recovery was threatened by an illness that paralyzed half of his face; and the determination that led him to persevere.

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The Bud Collins History of Tennis: An Authoritative Encyclopedia and Record Book – Bud Collins*

  • This book is the ultimate compilation of historical tennis information, including year-by-year recaps of every tennis season, biographical sketches of every major tennis personality, as well as stats, records, and championship rolls for all the major events (from publisher description).

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A Champion’s Mind: Lessons from a Life in Tennis– Pete Sampras with Peter Bodo

  • The tennis star offers a candid account of his athletic career that reveals his rise to fame on the court, his most dramatic on-court moments, his famed rivalry with Andre Agassi, and the pressures of and lessons learned about success.

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Days of Grace – Arthur Ashe*

  • The late tennis champion and social activist tells his story from his career as a black tennis player to his battle against AIDS.

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Game to Love: In Celebration of Tennis – Mike Powell

  • Featuring 500 highly evocative images, the book celebrates the passion for tennis that exists around the world. Powell’s extraordinary images capture the character and brilliance of the greatest players in the game today and are complemented by the words of many of the game’s legendary greats of yesteryear (from publisher description).

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Game, Set, Match: Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women’s Sports – Susan Ware

  • Presents a review of the career of the American tennis player and argues that her 1973 defeat of male player Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match helped, along with the passage of the Title IX anti-sex discrimination act, cause a revolution in women’s sports.

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Getting a Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self  – Monica Seles

  • A record-setting tennis champion describes such experiences as her teenage successes on the tennis circuit, the knife attack by a mentally ill fan that rendered her emotionally scarred, and her struggles with depression and an eating disorder.

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Hardcourt Confidential: Tales from Twenty Years in the Pro Tennis Trenches – Patrick McEnroe

  • A player, commentator, and U.S. Davis Cup team captain offers an insider’s view of the last twenty-five years of professional tennis and discusses some of the greatest players in recent history, including Raphael Nadal, Roger Federer, the Williams sisters, and Andre Agassi.

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On the Line – Serena Williams with Daniel Paisner

  • The Grand Slam and Olympic champion traces her rise from a disadvantaged childhood to one of the world’s top women tennis players, discussing her battles with racism, the injuries that threatened her career, and her current roles as a philanthropist and media personality.

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Open – Andre Agassi*

  • A candid memoir by the tennis champion covers his Grand Slam wins, establishment of a charitable foundation for underprivileged children, and marriage to Stefanie Graf.

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The Rivals: Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova: Their Epic Duels and Extraordinary Friendship – Johnette Howard

  • Follows the careers of tennis greats Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, from their first match in 1973 through the dramatic changes that occurred in the world of sports and society.

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Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played – L. Jon Wertheim

  • With vivid, intimate detail, Wertheim re-creates this epic battle ina book that is both a study of the mechanics and art of the game and the portrait of a dramatic rivalry (from publisher description).

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Successful Tennis: 303 Tips – Angela Buxton and Nenad Simic

  • This indispensable resource for tennis players has a wealth of tips and suggestions on how they can improve their skills and increase their enjoyment of the game (from publisher description).

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You Cannot Be Serious – John McEnroe

  • The author describes his rise to success in professional tennis, his controversial on-court behavior, his marriages to actress Tatum O’Neal and pop star Patty Smyth, and his current roles as father, tennis player, and TV commentator.

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