“Tennis is a perfect combination of violent action taking place in an atmosphere of total tranquility.” – Billie Jean King
I recently read this quote from the great Billie Jean King in Tennis magazine and it stuck with me. If you think about it, tennis really can be quite a “violent action.” Unless your name is Roger Federer, who plays the most effortless looking game I ever seen, you understand the destructive nature of tennis. Serves, ground strokes, lunging volleys, quick sprints, long points… they all combine over hours and hours on the court to take a beating on the body.
The older I have become the more I appreciate how physically demanding it is to play tennis. In my junior days I do not think I ever got tired or suffered a serious injury. Nowadays I get tired just watching tennis, let alone playing… and some days I feel like a walking injury. My shoulder, elbow, hips, and especially lower back beg me to find another sport to play. Luckily I never have had problems with my knees, ankles, or wrists (knock on wood.) All I can say is thank God for Advil and ice packs… without which the only tennis I would be playing would be on the Wii.
Nevertheless, we continue to endure the pain because we are drawn to the other aspect of tennis… the “atmosphere of total tranquility” Billie Jean speaks of. Even on the greatest stages of the game, stadiums of thousands upon thousands of people go from a thunderous roar to complete silence. Only the sounds of footwork, player exertion, and the explosion of tennis ball against strings (all components of “violence”) are heard for a matter of seconds before the crowd erupts again. Where else can you experience all of these elements in this way?
The average club level player can also resonate with Billie Jean’s words. Often times tennis is played at some of the most beautiful locations across the globe. From luxurious country clubs to public parks, I feel most players associate tennis with “tranquil” environments. Even if your tennis location is not the most peaceful place… I still believe we all strive for a level of tranquility in our mind when playing tennis. Thus the internal calmness creates the environment just as much as the external calmness.
Billie Jean King is dead on with her words.TRANQUILITY and VIOLENCE are truly manifested together in tennis. This serenity bonded together with physical chaos is a huge part of what keeps us tennis addicts coming back for more. We can experience this in our own games as well as watch it unfold on TV screens and tournaments of all levels around the world.
Thank you for Billie Jean for giving me another perspective on tennis… one that was in front of me the entire time…