Tennis Identity

TI Summer Bookshelf: John McEnroe, Maria Sharapova & More

For recreation, if you’re not on the tennis court this summer, chances are you’ll be by the pool or at the beach. Whether you tote around a hardcover or a Kindle in your beach bag, here are a few great tennis books to check out! (Careful getting sand in the Kindle.)

But Seriously, by John McEnroe

John’s been in the news recently. He’s out there plugging his book, and oops he got baited by an NPR host into the Serena kerfuffle. Now that that story has faded from view, we can talk about his book, and it’s terrific. But Seriously is a sequel of sorts to his #1 bestseller You Cannot Be Serious, and continues in the McEnroe style: he doesn’t beat around the bush and says what he means. He tells a lot of funny stories, and his wife Patty has her own commentary, too. He goes into a lot of detail about his interests outside the world of tennis, like fine art and his friendships with rock and rollers like Chrissie Hynde and Keith Richards. Amazon has it here.

John McEnroe

Tennis, A Cultural History, by Heiner Gillmeister

This might not be the one to take to the pool. This is pretty much an academic textbook, clocking in at close to 600 pages. It doesn’t cover mass appeal topics like famous players and such, but examines the cultural origins of the sport, going back to medieval times! (“Monks as tennis instructors” is covered, to give you an idea of just how far back that is. Could they have helped my backhand?)

Author Heiner Gillmeister is a retired Chaucerian and linguistics scholar so you can see where the academic angle comes in. The book is also full of historical images, including illustrations of ye olde-tyme courts, like “The Evolution of the Lawn Tennis Court,” for example. Other topics covered include “The Language of Tennis,” “Tennis in Renaissance Literature,” “Lawn Tennis in America,” and “Continental Colonies: Lawn Tennis in France.” If you’re into the true nitty-gritty of tennis history, this one is for you. Amazon has it here.

Tennis, A Cultural History

Unstoppable: My Life So Far by Maria Sharapova

Maria has been in the news a little bit, and this book will cover her life up to this point, from growing up in Russia and moving to a famous tennis academy, to all the tennis titles and her suspension. Amazon says, “In the middle of the night, a father and his daughter step off a Greyhound bus in Florida and head straight to the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. They ring the bell, though no one is expecting them and they don’t speak English. The two have arrived from Russia with only seven-hundred dollars and the conviction that this six-year-old will be the next tennis star.” They did get that one right. Unstoppable is available for pre-order and will be out September 12.

I’ve often asked myself: Why write a book? In part, it’s to tell my story, and it’s also to understand it. This is a story about sacrifice, what you have to give up. But it’s also just the story of a girl and her father and their crazy adventure. -Maria Sharapova

Unstoppable: My Life So Far

*McEnroe book photo from WBUR *Tennis, A Cultural History photo from

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