Monday, June 29, 2009

"the sacred grass of Wimbledon"

How appropriate is it that Infinite Summer kicked off one day before Wimbledon?

It's already been a landmark year for tennis with Roger Federer (SUI) equaling Pete Sampras (USA) in overall Grand Slam titles with fucking fourteen, including five consecutive at Wimbledon and five consecutive at the U.S. Open. It's honestly something I never thought I would see, and I'm a little out-of-sorts about it. My own formidable tennis years — if you can call being top-seed at a extremely low-ranked high school formidable — were played during the rise of Pete Sampras. Pete was a clinician, an unbelievably economical player whose personality was anathema to his monster serve (his Wikipedia article only has about five lines under the personal life section). Pete wasn't flashy; Pete was as smart and pure a player as there ever has been and his rivalry with Andre Agassi did wonders for the sport.

Now, we have Roger Federer. He's devastating and dominating in every way. He's flashy and pulls off these balletic feats of athleticism not often seen in tennis. David Foster Wallace was a huge fan of these "Federer Moments" as he described in his essay "Federer as Religious Experience" for the NY Times.

"The Moments are more intense if you’ve played enough tennis to understand the impossibility of what you just saw him do."

He describes one particular Moment:

"...given Agassi’s position and world-class quickness, Federer had to send that ball down a two-inch pipe of space in order to pass him, which he did, moving backwards, with no setup time and none of his weight behind the shot. It was impossible. It was like something out of “The Matrix.” I don’t know what-all sounds were involved, but my spouse says she hurried in and there was popcorn all over the couch and I was down on one knee and my eyeballs looked like novelty-shop eyeballs."

I think DFW would be a content television-tennis-viewer this year. Although, as he himself put it "the truth is that TV tennis is to live tennis pretty much as video porn is to the felt reality of human love." That aside, this weekend I thoroughly enjoyed reading the section on the topography of E.T.A. while listening to the gentle pock, pock, and the rhythmic banshee wail of Venus Williams dismantling Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro 6-0, 6-4.

UPDATE: From an interview posted on the Official Wimbledon site:

Q. There were times during your match today when I was reminded of an essay by the late American author, David Foster Wallace. It's called, Roger Federer as Religious Experience. I'm wondering if you have heard of this essay, read it, or what you think of it?

ROGER FEDERER: Sure, I remember his piece. I remember doing the interview here on the grounds up on the grass. I had a funny feeling walking out of the interview. I wasn't sure what was going to come out of it, because I didn't know exactly what direction he was going to go.

The piece was obviously fantastic. You know, yeah, it's completely different to what I've read in the past about me anyway.

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