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Anyone for Tennis?

Wimbledon started this week, and many British eyes are on Andy Murray, who has a decent chance of being the first British Men’s Singles Winner since Fred Perry in 1936. So, no pressure then. Anyway, with the sun shining in England (for once), the strawberries in season, and the tennis on the telly, I thought I’d bring you a selection of tennis (and sport) related entries from The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. These are from the 6th edition, but we have the lovely new seventh edition publishing in Britain in September.


“We are merely the stars’ tennis-balls, struck and bandied
Which way please them.”
John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi (1623) act 5, sc. 4

“If you can keep playing tennis when somebody is shooting a gun down the street, that’s concentration. I didn’t grow up playing at the country club.”
Serena Williams, Sunday Times (2 June 2002)

“I’d as soon write free verse as play tennis with the net down.”
Robert Frost, quoted in Interviews with Robert Frost (1966)

“When we have matched our rackets to these balls,
We will in France, by God’s grace, play a set
Shall strike his father’s crown into the hazard.”
William Shakespeare, Henry V (1599) act 1, sc. 2

“Years ago we discovered the exact point, the dead centre of middle age. It occurs when you are too young to take up golf and too old to rush up to the net.”
Franklin P. Adams, Nods and Becks (1944)

“He played the King as thought under momentary apprehension that someone else was about to play the ace.”
Eugene Field, in a review of Creston Clarke as King Lear, Denver Tribune (c.1880)

“Many a good run I have in my sleep. Many a dig in the ribs I gives Mrs J when I think they’re running into the warmint… No man is fit to be called a sportsman wot doesn’t kick his wife out of bed on haverage once in three weeks!”
R.S. Surtees, Handley Cross (1843)

“A sportsman is a man who, every now and then, simply has to get out and kill something. Not that he’s cruel. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. It’s not big enough.”
Stephen Leacock, My Remarkable Uncle (1942)

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Recent Comments

  1. Jake Le Master

    “He played the King as thought[sic] under momentary apprehension that someone else was about to play the ace.”

    Are you sure that’s a tennis-related quotation?

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