Bahrami also talks about his friendships with some of the great tennis players - Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Ilie Nastase, Henri Leconte - and many others. Inspirational, funny and truly original, this is much more than a sports autobiography. It is the story of one man's success against all the odds, set against the backdrop of a country in the midst of revolution and war. But, above all, it is Mansour Bahrami's undiminished passion for tennis and his amazing adventures on and off the court which make this book an exceptional read.
A racket: what would I not have given for a racket?
One summer’s day, when I must have been ten years old, I was waiting for clients, not feeling too hopeful. These really hot afternoons in Iran were rarely devoted to sport. Everyone was taking a siesta; the shopkeepers would draw their curtains, and no-one reappeared before four o’clock. I, on the other hand, preferred hitting a ball against a wall with a broom, rather than lazing in the shade. I was secretly hoping that there wouldn’t be a client coming to ask me to act as his ball boy. The one who arrived was a very beautiful woman, aged about forty: the wife of a big-wig. She knew me in the way that she knew all the kids at Amjadieh hanging around the entrance for the privilege of picking up the balls. She asked me:
“Mansour, what are you doing? Why are you playing with a broomstick?”
“Well, it’s better than playing with my hand. Sometimes I use a shovel; but a broom’s better; I can hit the ball better …”
She answered me with a tone both astounded and naïve:
“But, Mansour, why don’t you play with a racket? Tennis is played with a racket, you know, not a broom.”
“I haven’t got any money to buy a racket. Rackets are expensive …”
In those days a racket would have cost about two months’ wages for my father.
Mansour Bahrami is one of the leading names on the Seniors Tennis Circuit. With his gift of showmanship, his special athletic talent and his famous trick shots, he is now instantly recognizable to tennis fans everywhere. But few people know of his extraordinary early life. Born in Iran, he was on the verge of breaking into top-flight tennis in the late 1970s when Ayatollah Khomeini ousted the Shah and swept to power. Eventually, he fled to France and, with great determination, reached the Men's Doubles Final of the French Open eight years later in 1989. He is everyone's favourite highlight at the annual Royal Albert Hall Black Rock Championships and at the Veterans Events at Wimbledon itself and at Hurlingham the week before.