Game Point

A Necessary Spectacle by Selena RobertsThe Rivals by Johnette HowardThe Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese

A Necessary Spectacle by Selena Roberts

On September 20, 1973, Billie Jean King defeated aging male former Wimbledon champion Bobby Riggs in a nationally televised match ballyhooed as the "Battle of the Sexes." At the time, it seemed like made-for-television tripe, but there were larger issues at stake, many understood only by King and a handful of supporters. Roberts explores the events leading up to the match as well as the subsequent consequences. Riggs had created a context for the match by proclaiming women players so inferior to men that the best woman couldn't beat an over-the-hill hustler. His first challenge match against Australian Margaret Court, seemed to prove his point as he demolished one of the top-tier female stars. But Court was no Billie Jean. Roberts explores the match in terms of its cultural significance, its impact on Title IX legislation, and the rise of feminism. (Booklist Reviews)

The Rivals by Johnette Howard

For 16 years, Evert and Navratilova faced each other on the tennis court; they met 80 times-and 60 times in finals. Newsday columnist Howard captivatingly tells the story of how these two women came together from disparate worlds and founded a complicated though lasting friendship. Evert, the charming, pony-tailed daughter of a middle-class, all-American family, captured many fans' hearts when she arrived on the scene at 16. Navratilova, on the other hand, exuded seriousness; her determined look and sturdy frame matched her history, a dramatic, heart-wrenching one that involved leaving her family behind in communist Czechoslovakia. Howard shows how Evert and Navratilova's paths slowly merged, until they finally faced each other for the first time in 1973. (Publisher Weekly Reviews)

The Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese

Verghese had just taken a teaching position when he met intern David Smith, a former tennis pro who turned to medicine when his athletic career ended. With twice-weekly meetings over a net, a shared profession, and other common interests, the two became good friends. Verghese found in Smith and tennis a refuge from his own failing marriage and general middle-age angst. Just as Verghese began to discover renewed satisfaction in his work, Smith's life became engulfed in turmoil. He had a number of destructive relationships with women, and, a former drug addict, he lapsed back into substance abuse, which left him unable--physically or legally--to continue in medicine. This is a meditation on friendship, its fragile underpinnings, and, sadly, its limits. But it also reveals that through the shared experience of sport, men especially can forge a enduring relationship. (Booklist Starred Review)

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