“I fell in love with your father because of his beautiful legs”

by Kitty Drake in April 2020
Sport

A photography special, the thirteenth issue of Racquet is not interested in “perfection under a spotlight” — the editors want to capture something warmer. Perhaps the most beautiful feature, by Sara Perovic, isn’t really about tennis at all. It’s about her mother’s obsession with her father’s legs. Perovic’s father was a left-handed tennis pro, and her grandfather wrote the best-selling Croatian manual “Let’s Play Tennis” — but that’s not what makes the story charming. The final spread shows two rather handsome, hairy sets of legs pictured side by side. The caption reads: “And now my daughter’s father has beautiful legs”.

The writing in Racquet is always superb, and while there’s less of it in this issue than usual, what there is, sings. Louisa Thomas’ piece, about her favourite tennis image of all time, is my favourite. It’s a shot of the Italian player Francesca Schiavone splattered in red clay from the court, which looks like blood. This isn’t a classic victory shot, Thomas explains. Schiavone is late in her career, “She knew the moment wasn’t the first of many… Still rolled on one hip, she leaned down and kissed the court. It wasn’t a peck; wasn’t a dainty kiss, either. She gave the dirt an earthy smooch.”

There’s also a series of intimate, unfocused Polaroids, by David Bartholomew. Inspired by the tennis photography of the ‘70s and ‘80s, where stars were less guarded, tennis gods are pictured with strange tenderness. In one, Bianca Andreescu sits awkwardly on the court, clutching a trophy. In another, Roger Federer zips up his hoodie, almost shyly. The pleasure of Racquet is that it’s a tennis magazine that’s not really about tennis. Even if by some very, very slim chance you don’t know who Federer is, you’ll like that photograph.

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