Kenneth here.


Thanks to Deowriter for hosting Poetry Friday this week.

Since it is Poetry Friday and it is also Wimbledon finals weekend, I wanted to kick off with this quotation from a poem that has a tangential relationship with tennis.

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same…”

This is inscribed over the entrance to Centre Court at Wimbledon, and it’s part of one stanza from the poem If by Rudyard Kipling.

In 2017 Serena Williams made a recording of the poem (with a twist at the end) to celebrate International Women’s Day.

I also found another video of her reciting Still I Rise by Maya Angelou.

IMG_3946 copyConnecting tennis and Wimbledon with this quarter’s theme of Reinventing Womanity, Redefining Womanhood, here are five tennis related memoirs that I’ve enjoyed reading.


Written by: Maria Sharapova
Published by: Sarah Crichton Books
ISBN: 0374279799 (ISBN-13: 978-0374279790) Borrowed from the 

I was very excited to read this memoir when it was published in in early 2018, partly because of the massive hype generated in the tennis media about the sections of the book which covered the animosity between Sharapova and Serena Williams. But mainly because of Sharapova’s own fascinating rags to riches story, and her unstoppable will to win that she displays in every match that she plays (whether or not she wins or loses the match).

Buy Unstoppable by Maria Sharapova on Amazon | Book Depository


Written by: Jelena Dokic
Published by: Ebury Australia
ISBN: 0143784242 (ISBN-13: 978-0143784241)

I read this in one day. Jelena Dokic was meant for greatness on the tennis court, but she was betrayed by an abusive father. Some of the descriptions of abuse can be brutal to read, and I can only hope that putting it down in words was cathartic for her.

Buy Unbreakable by Jelena Dokic on Amazon | Book Depository

Knowing The Score

Written by: Judy Murray
Published by: Penguin Random House UK
ISBN: 1784706493 (ISBN-13: 978-1784706494)

You would have to be a true tennis fan, or live in the UK to recognise Judy Murray’s name. Her memoir covers her life in tennis, becoming a tennis coach, and being a tennis parent to two world #1 tennis players (Andy in singles, and Jamie in doubles). Interestingly, and I think also tellingly, Andy Murray is one of the rare few male tennis players on the circuit to have had a woman (the one time world #1 Amelie Mauresmo) as his primary coach.

Buy Knowing The Score on Amazon | Book Depository

Getting A Grip

Written by: Monica Seles
Published by: Avery
ISBN: 1583333754 (ISBN-13: 978-1583333754)

Written towards the end of her tennis playing career, this book details Monica Seles first incarnation as a take-no-prisoners world-beating wunderkind, then her multiple brushes with disaster – an on court stabbing by a deranged fan of Steffi Graf’s, the death of her father, and an eating disorder. Although she returned to tennis, she would never quite reattain her previous glories. What follows is her self-awakening and the transition to a life after tennis.

Buy Getting A Grip on Amazon | Book Depository

The Rivals

Written by: Johnette Howard
Published by: Three Rivers Press
ISBN: 0767918851 (ISBN-13: 978-0767918855)

This book is not exactly a memoir, as it examines the friendship and rivalry between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Recounting their individual paths to tennis glory in the early days of the women’s tennis tour, the book covers how their stars became intertwined as they battled each other for grand slam titles and the number one ranking.

Buy The Rivals on Amazon

I’m looking forward to reading Li Na: My Life about the first player from China to win a grand slam title, as well as Ace Against Odds – Sania Mirza’s memoir about the first female player from India to win a grand slam title and hold the world #1 doubles ranking – I currently have both of these books on order from Bookdepository!

In the meantime over at the New York Times, there’s a very current article about Hsieh Su Wei, the Taiwanese player with an unorthodox playing style, who unfortunately lost early at Wimbledon this year. 

7 comments on “[Poetry Friday] Women in Tennis

  1. I’ve never watched a tennis match! But all these books look interesting to me. I hope Jelena Dokic is doing okay.


  2. I agree that all these books look interesting, but those readings by Serena Williams just wow me. I adore that new ending to If by Rudyard Kipling.


  3. lindabaie

    I watch tennis on and off, but really didn’t know about these memoirs or that Selena recorded poetry, which is powerful, like her! The match starts soon & I wish her the best!


  4. haitiruth

    Wow, what a great collection! We’ve been enjoying watching Wimbledon. Ruth,


  5. maryleehahn

    Welcome to the Gathering Books team, Kenneth! I loved hearing Serena recite Maya Angelou. I’m sad that she didn’t win this time, but I’m confident that she’ll find a way to rise again!


  6. Kay Mcgriff

    I never knew of the tennis/poetry connection. I love that Serena recites poetry as well as plays tennis!


  7. More books for my TBR list.


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