My first tennis memory
It’s hard to imagine a time before the superstars of the tennis world had ever picked up a racquet.
But everyone has to start somewhere, including the likes of Boris Becker, Tim Henman and Tracy Austin.
We spoke to them to find out how they remember being introduced to the sport.
Boris Becker’s first tennis memory was almost 50 years ago, but only 14 years before he won Wimbledon for the first time. When he was three-years-old, his father passed down an old wooden racquet for him to use. Unfortunately it was too big for baby Boris, and so his father cut it in two to make it usable.
Tracy Austin told us that her first memory of the sport was learning from her coach Vic Braden, who was an American pro-tennis player himself before going into broadcasting. She said: “He was really into making sure that the kids had fun, so that they wanted to come back the next day, and I think he did a great job because all of us wanted to continue on and we grew up together.” His influence must have stuck, as it’s a very similar path to the one that Austin has trodden.
Tim Henman said he remembered the school holidays being full of sport. He and his two brothers would play anything and everything, but he said: “Tennis was the one I enjoyed the most and I knew pretty young that’s what I wanted to try and do.”
Annabel Croft said it all started on holiday in Marbella in Spain, where she played tennis all the time. When her and her family arrived back home, she begged her mum to let her join a club. It was 50p for a group training session, and she went every day of the week for the rest of the summer holidays, after which she “couldn’t leave it alone” - she was “obsessed”.
Andrew Castle was greedy and insisted on giving two first memories. One was that he found a tennis racquet under the stairs of his house, which he then took with his mate to some local public courts. He said that that day, he “fell in love with what you can do with a ball”. The other was that he got get a short lesson from a military Major who was actually teaching his brother, David. He took the last ten minutes and from that point on, was hooked.