10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com


They sat in Wimbledon’s plastic seats holding hands. He had grey hair and leathery skin and big blue eyes which whispered “photograph me.” She was more frail, slightly pale beneath her collared dress and the chocolate ice cream cone she held had begun to drip darkly onto the floor below. At times, they whispered to each other about the competition, he keeping his finger extended toward the match so she would follow it to give him time to steal a lick of her ice cream, she giggling at his indiscretion. Upon their faces, age carved riverbeds of wrinkles to express lives long lived. With some imagination, one could picture them in their youth, a gorgeous couple, strolling along the beach at sunset, their brimming trust and growing ambition the tethers which lashed them for a lifetime. Perhaps their memories have faded by now. Perhaps they’ve been conquering life so long they’ve forgotten the wonder of youth.


But then, there is something beautiful in the passing of years. One sees serenity in the brittle bones and faded color of a soul’s winter. Experience etches itself into the creases of a weathered face, the wisdom pouring out from dry lips and thick-browed glances. Ask a senior citizen about life and they just chuckle, wink, and respond, “there’s just too much to say.”


Roger Federer of Switzerland in action against Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic during his semi final match of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 14 July 2017. EPA/PETER KLAUNZER

This weekend, Roger Federer and Venus Williams take to Wimbledon’s Centre Court to make more history. There will be security guards who do not remember them in their youth and an entire generation of Royals who once listened to their parents raving about these two young superstars who conquered England’s hallowed lawns. There will be fathers and mothers, who once took their children to Wimbledon to see the young boy Roger and a braided Venus, who are now grandfathers and grandmothers sitting in the stands with their grandchildren to watch Mr. Federer and Ms. Williams. There will be an old trophy-etcher who once had to look at his notes to spell the names Federer and Williams properly, but who now has them engraved into his own muscle memory. There will be blades of grass which salute the rising sun and then bend into a friendly-bouncing bow when they feel the familiar feet of former champions. There will be umpires who look into the morning mirror with a self-congratulatory smile at reaching the apex of a career. There will be slack-jawed ball kids who will never lack for dinner conversation and who will cheer inwardly for their heroes while keeping a traditionally British stoicism.


Amidst all of these observers, two elderly statespeople will compete for Wimbledon titles. What once were the assets of youthful vigor have now become the weaponry of wisdom. The extraordinary examples of excellence are now called repertoire, repeated almost annually for decades. What once were childhood dreams have turned into reality. How uncommon it must be to look to memories for inspiration.


What then do we call the conquered dreams we attempt to repeat? Fantaseize? Wingemination? Imagicnation? There are no English words to describe things like this (trust me, I’ve looked).


Back to the aged wonders though. The ITF has a 35’s age division. They consider that the beginning of senior tennis – even the governing body thinks Venus and Roger are over-the-hill. These two athletes are defying years like Wilfred Brimley and Jessica Tandy in Cocoon’s pool (IMDb that one).


I have no idea what is going to happen this weekend. It is possible Muguruza and Cilic beat up on old people and then find themselves part of a British tabloid claiming abuse of old people. More likely though, Roger and Venus are going to do the extraordinary and all across the world, AARP members are going to nod their heads, smile… and then fall asleep.