The blisters on my feet have begun to weep. My soles, oh my soles, they’re red and inflamed like my sunburnt knees. The zinc cream tastes like acid on my lips. I can’t swallow, and my elbow’s sick of tennis. History can be read in a forehand, a groundstroke. The only mystery is the spin on the ball. Little shards of green fibre explode from the racquet, whilst others remain caught there, in between the strings, like patterns for impossible socks. Mine have worn completely through, exposing my soles (oh my soles!) to the unsympathetic manipulations of my Volleys. From the serving line I can see a row of pink faces, turning left then right like so many clowns waiting to go down on a ping pong ball. Will your turn ever come? I clutch soft fluffy toys to my breast. The miniature koala’s feet claw at my shirtsleeve like a pathetic comedian begging for one last gag. You don’t make me laugh. You make me want to find a cure for idiots. My wristbands have begun to produce sweat more effectively than a resalination plant. I shudder at the thought of putting my Ivan Lendl designer track pants back on after the game. I hate the post-match coldness, the stiffness of limbs, the rubber-necked journalists. Fuck them. And fuck the organisers with their “only questions about the match, nothing else.” Well, maybe I am concerned about global warming. Hell, if the drought continues, we won’t be playing on grass courts anymore. I prefer clay courts anyway. If they were good enough for Evonne … Well, maybe I am interested in discussing my private life. I’d like William Hurt to play me in the biopic of my life. With all the wizardry they’ve got these days, I could have Hurt for the close-ups and Jeremy Bettany for the action shots. The choreographed rallies would be endless, mesmerising, vertigo-inducing. Maybe I prefer to discuss other players’ games, instead of my own. Maybe I want to read poetry at press conferences, or fart. But here’s the dickhead organiser again, like all the rest of them, has-beens, consigned to holding the rubber during Davis Cup matches. Their hairstyles are abominable. Eras pierced. That’s not irony, in fact it’s a rather neat phrase. End of an ear. Mary Pierce has infected eras. I long for the days of matted hair and red-white-and-blue headbands. Swedish tennis fans arouse me but their face paint I can do without. White shorts on men should be banned but there is something magical in the way a woman’s tennis skirt rides up over the ball shoved beneath her elasticised underpants. I will face three thousand projectiles fired by the Dalek-like ball machine. I have never liked kids whose caps are bigger than their heads. Death to Gatorade. I want to break ties for a living. I want to measure net heights for a living. I want to build a practice wall for every indigenous kid who wants to play tennis. The greatest game ever invented is called “Community”.

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