Bloomberg Businessweek

Green Is Gold

A call for tennis players of all abilities to get out on the grass. Plus, a viewer’s guide to Wimbledon. By Gerald Marzorati
The grass courts at New York City’s West Side Tennis Club

BEND YOUR KNEES. This is the first commandment of playing tennis on grass, according to Boris Becker, the three-time Wimbledon champion, who preferred it to all other surfaces.

On this summery day on the grass courts at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, Queens, my hamstrings begin to ache as I struggle to get low and stay low. And without the traditional hard surface for my sneakers to grip, I slip on the turf. I charge forward only to dump volley after off-balance volley into my side of the net.

But here I am, in the shadow of the timeworn, horseshoe-shaped stadium where the U.S. Open finals of my youth were won by the likes of Arthur Ashe, Rod Laver, and Stan Smith. Here, finally, is tennis the way it was meant to be played. I have plush, forgiving turf beneath my feet and a surround of close-cut green, just like the players I’ve been watching forever on TV. As my young tennis pro and I hit back and forth in the honeyed light of early evening, I think, What’s not to love about this?

The lawn is an English invention. In the 17th century, these vast green expanses, cultivated and close-cut, began sprouting

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