My ongoing love affair with tennis – photos from Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open 2015

I’ve been around tennis for almost my entire life. From being a little kid under pressure to be a professional athlete (“golf or tennis: you choose”) and quitting sports altogether in high school (my big rebellion), I lost track of tennis in my late teens and early 20’s. I was busy doing other things when Serena Williams won her first slam and the Williams’ sisters rose to dominance in the WTA.

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I knew the names of the big stars in the decade or so I had stopped following the game – Sampras, Kornikova, and of course I knew Agassi. But somewhere around 2006/2007 I started paying attention again. Someone named Roger Federer and the Williams’ sisters seemed like they would never lose again.

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I was glued to every Slam – learning the hard way that recorded sports never works. When Djokovic won his first Slam in the epic 6-hour tournament (called one of the greatest matches of all time), I had decided to record it and go play golf, only to learn the fate of the match via NPR on my way home to watch it.

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It wasn’t until 2012 that I had a conversation with a random-encounter-turned-friendship acquaintance of mine that the idea I could actually see these tennis players in person in Indian Wells. Everyone except Serena, that is. Until this year.¬†

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The media has had a field day with a so-called “rivalry” between Sloane Stephens and Serena Williams. From what I could see on the court, there didn’t seem to be any bad blood between the two as the pair took a few moments at the net after Serena’s win in three sets over Sloane.

The 2015 BNP Paribas tournament in Indian Wells is my third year in a row going, and I’m now the owner of premium courtside seats as well. Tennis is often called “The loneliest sport” because it’s the only sport you’re truly on your own. Your coach isn’t allowed to talk to you during a match. It’s just you and your opponent in a fishbowl – everything you do is ultra-zoomed and scrutinized by Mary Carillo and John McEnroe from the broadcast box.

Flavia Penneta burst into tears after losing a break to Maria Sharapova. She left the court sobbing and returned to win the match in one amazing comeback. No one knows why she broke down.

Flavia Penneta burst into tears after losing a break to Maria Sharapova. She left the court sobbing and returned to win the match in one amazing comeback. No one knows why she broke down.

I’ve posted pictures from the tournaments in the past but this year I selected and edited a few that I hope translate my love for the game, my understanding of its loneliness and my passion as a fan.

The full gallery from 2015 is below.

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