From the heat of the Australian Open to the red clay of the French Open, to the majesty of Wimbledon All England Club to the humidity at the US Open, tennis has been a global sport for decades. Starting with the tennis pioneers of the 20th century right up to today, star players have influenced cultural movements, ushered in the casual sporting style and sex appeal and the fight for equal rights. Tennis was the first sport to have openly gay athletes and is the only major sport where women and men take home equal earnings. Tennis has been a leader in race relations starting in the 1960s and 1970s. Tennis' Greatest Stars profiles the 50 greatest and most influential players of the game and presents a historical narrative of athletic prowess, popular culture and social responsibility. Tennis' Greatest Stars features 50 player profiles in the following categories: Pioneers and Trailblazers - The players who set the stage for modern tennis, including Don Budge, who won the Grand Slam before becoming a professional; Rod Laver, one of the first to adopt the topspin; and Althea Gibson, the first African-American to win a major tennis championship.
The Golden Age - The rise of tennis players as celebrities, including Billie Jean King, who defeated Bobby Riggs in the 'Battle of the Sexes'; tantrum-throwing John McEnroe; and equal rights advocate Arthur Ashe. The 21st Century - Tennis has reached new heights in skill and speed as well as entered popular culture. Champions include the powerhouse Williams sisters, Venus and Serena; Roger Federer; Rafael Nadal; Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. Tennis' Greatest Stars is packed with action photographs that celebrate the game and thoughtful essays, which cover such topics as the birth of modern tennis, the major tournaments, international play, the various court surfaces and new technologies. This is a superb book for the fan and a compelling history of a great game.
Mike Ryan is a journalist, lifelong sports fan and lover of tennis. Tennis' Greatest Stars is his second book.