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Tennis' ebony and ivory

September 24, 2007

Text and images: Deepti Patwardhan

Every day, every moment, tennis throws up new challenges. Behind the glitz and glamour of Grand Slams are stories of everyday people, lesser games but bigger struggles. Young men and women travel to remote places, play in front of empty stands, picking points and, sometimes, injury.

It's a world of their own, competitive, monotonous but objective; you win or lose, stay for the day or move on to the next stop. Inspired by their single-minded pursuit; mostly insulated from the rest. We don't completely understand their world, and they constantly struggle to understand ours.

For everyone outside the tennis circle, India's Rohan Bopanna and Pakistan's Aisam Qureshi playing together sends a symbolic message. Indian and Pakistani athletes, with a common history and culture, are known to be good friends but never on the same team.

"I don't understand why it has to be so big," questions India's top player Bopanna. "We were playing the same tournament and we are good friends, so we play together. Whenever we win the papers play it big by saying, 'Indo-Pak duo' rather than just 'Bopanna-Qureshi'!"

  • Also see: An 'ace' up Indian tennis' sleeve

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