Each week, Benjamin Law asks public figures to discuss the subjects we’re told to keep private by getting them to roll a die. The numbers they land on are the topics they’re given.
This week he talks to Jim Courier. The tennis commentator, 48, was the world No. 1 men’s tennis player during 1992 and 1993. A four-time majors champion, he holds the record of being the youngest man to reach the singles finals of all four majors, at age 22.
You left the ATP Tour in 2000 after being ranked No. 1 for 58 weeks during 1992 and 1993. To what extent is retiring like a death?
For some of my peers, it did feel like that, but not for me. It felt like a new beginning. I’d put aside many things – going skiing, seeing bands I liked, picking up a basketball – that weren’t advisable for a tennis pro. Now there was an opportunity for me to explore.
You were quite aware of what you had sacrificed to achieve what you had?
And I was quite happy to sacrifice. But I was in my 30s by then and had a lot of open road.
You didn’t mourn anything at all about that chapter of your life closing?
So what’s the difference between you and other athletes who do have that period of mourning?
Possibly curiosity. I’m interested in other things. As tennis people, we have opportunities to travel the world, so I never thought I was just going back to the life I lived before I left home. For some people, that’s all they ever want. They don’t like being on the road; they just want to be home. For me, curiosity led me to more happiness.
Elite athletes are often seen as being close to immortal. When was the last time you felt mortal?
Oh my god. During the photo shoot for this interview!
Really? You don’t like being photographed?
I’m used to being photographed with friends or my kids. But when you’re in an unusual environment where everyone else around you is a professional at their job and you’re the amateur, it’s a little awkward.
What about medical scares?
I’ve been quite lucky. I’ve had my appendix out.
You really are doing well, then. Have you decided what an ideal way of dying would be?
Some people have said getting hit by a bus.
That does not sound appealing.
Painless would be ideal. We’re all deteriorating as we go – that’s nature – but I hope to be physically capable for a long time, and mentally capable even past that, to enjoy my grandkids [Courier is married, and has two young sons], if we have those.
Is anyone banned from your funeral?[Laughs.] No. Everyone is welcome. I’ve been pretty good at not creating enemies.
Read Full Article at Sydney Morning Herald