Every match is a life in miniature | Andre Agassi

Eric Ravilious, Tennis (Triptych), 1930 *

“It’s no accident, I think, that tennis uses the language of life. Advantage, service, fault, break, love, the basic elements of tennis are those of everyday existence, because every match is a life in miniature. Even the structure of tennis, the way the pieces fit inside one another like Russian nesting dolls, mimics the structure of our days. Points become games become sets become tournaments, and it’s all so tightly connected that any point can become the turning point. It reminds me of the way seconds become minutes become hours, and any hour can be our finest. Or darkest. It’s our choice.”

 “Only boxers can understand the loneliness of tennis players - and yet boxers have their corner men and managers. Even a boxer’s opponent provides a kind of companionship, someone he can grapple with and grunt at. In tennis you stand face-to-face with the enemy, trade blows with him, but never touch him or talk to him, or anyone else. The rules forbid a tennis player from even talking to his coach while on the court. People sometimes mention the track-and-field runner as a comparably lonely figure, but I have to laugh. At least the runner can feel and smell his opponents. They’re inches away. In tennis you’re on an island. Of all the games men and women play, tennis is the closest to solitary confinement...” 

“Tennis is the loneliest sport” 

 Andre Agassi, Open: An Autobiography 2009

*The panels of this triptych decorated the door of Sir Geoffrey Fry's Music Room in Portman Square, London. Eric Ravilious based the tennis court on the Manor Gardens at Eastbourne and treated the panels as a continuous composition, with the game's progress and the players' gestures linking the three parts.

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