You got to hand it to the press when it comes to making a mountain out of the proverbial molehill. Andy Murray’s getting married Saturday, April 11 – congrats again to him and Kim Sears – and there will be no Feddy, Rafa or Nole. (Thank God for Andy’s lack of famous guests. For a while there, I thought we were going to have to live with Nole’s Miami meltdown until the start of the Monte Carlo Open.)
So Andy didn’t invite the rest of the so-called “Big Four.” What a surprise. Well, it is to the press. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have been “banned,” “shunned” and “uninvited.” (Let us pause for a vocabulary lesson, here, shall we? In order to be uninvited, you would have to be invited to begin with.)
Look, when you play for the kind of stakes these guys play for, you’re not going to pal around. It messes with your head and your game. That’s precisely why I made the tennis players and swimmers in my debut novel “Water Music” rivals, friends and lovers: It’s delicious conflict, which is the meat of fiction. In my follow-up, “The Penalty for Holding,” the football players, too, find their personal relationships tangling their professional rivalries, although there it’s somewhat different, because football is a team sport.
Can rivals be friends in the real world? I really enjoyed the story on Serena Williams in the April Vogue, which details her BFF relationship with Caroline Wozniacki. (Serena’s had a lot of practice getting along with rivals as her matches with sister Venus attest.) But with all due respect to Caro – a marvelous competitor who’s taken life’s lemons (being dumped by Rory McIlroy) and made lemonade – she isn’t in Serena’s league as a player. It helps if one player isn’t quite as good as the other. (In “Water Music,” it’s all smooth sailing until the No. 2 guys start challenging the No. 1 guys and the status quo.) And, I would wager, it helps that women – for all their catfighting – are more collegial than men.
The Vogue article also discusses the longtime friendship of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, though that had its rough patches. But come to think of it, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe were something of a love fest, especially after they retired. And the saucy Aussies of the 1960s – led by Rod Laver, the greatest player I’ve seen to date – were barnstormers who played local high schools and went out for dinner and beer afterward.
The times were different. The money was different.
So Fed, Rafa and Nole will just have to read all about Andy’s dandy nuptials in HELLO! magazine.