Tennis Prose



Don King on Tennis

The Hall of Fame boxing promoter Don King is not only a big fan of tennis but also was once a highly talented player.

Introduction to tennis: “I’ve been an avid fan all my life. I’ve watched tennis for a long time. To Sampras, to Agassi, to Federer, to Nadal, to the two beautiful girls who I helped start out with Richard Williams – Venus and Serena. They used to wear my shirts to go play. I was their sponsor. I love Monica Seles – she’s a tremendous competitor. Alan King – my Jewish brother – we were putting on matches all the time at Caesars Palace with Pancho Gonzalez.”

Appeal of tennis: “Tennis is one on one. That’s what brings out the essence of a man or woman.”

His own tennis playing experience: “When I was in the penitentiary I was a champion tennis player. It was great exercise. Especially when I made my parole, when you got like 45 days. I was hittin’ them, Man! I had aces. I had a serve about 100 miles per hour. Biiiing!! Right down the line with my serve. My backhand – Biiing! But when I got out, I knew I couldn’t make my weight playing tennis.”

Favorite players: “I saw a match – a little woman from my hometown in Florida – Chrissie Evert. I saw her in some of the most remarkable matches. And that Jimmy Connors – you know he was a rat. I liked him. Then Agassi the great came on. He’s always exciting to watch. But I really liked that guy who was such a bad boy. He kind of reminded me of James Cagney. John McEnroe.”

Greatest tennis moment: “When Althea Gibson won Wimbledon. Because tennis used to be a white man’s game. And the best thing we could do was shine shoes in the locker room. Althea became an instrument of positiveness by democratic process.”

Worst tennis moment: “For me, when we lost Arthur Ashe. Because Arthur was just a really sweet person.”

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