No love lost in Amis tirade
Saturday 03 July 1999
The programme made no mention of gentle lobs or strawberries and cream, but instead delivered a devastating character assassination of tennis heroes such as Ilie Nastase, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Andre Agassi.
In critical terms, the programme was excellent. The actor Bill Nighy read from Martin Amis' article, originally published in The New Yorker, on the subject of "tennis personalities". Nighy, quoting Amis, explained that he was using the word "personality" as "an exact synonym of a seven- letter duosyllable starting with `a' and ending with `e' - and also featuring, in order of appearance, an `s, s' an `h', an `o', and an `l'." This word is not generally heard by the Radio 4 audience over its morning coffee.
He then proceeded to brand Nastase, doubtless thought of as a loveable clown by many, as the biggest "personality" of them all. "Ilie Nastase was a serious `personality' - probably the most complete `personality' the game has ever boasted," said Nighy/Amis. "Arthur Ashe... recalls Ilie called him `negroni' to his face and, once, `nigger' behind his back. Ilie, of course, was known as a`showman' that is, as an embarrassing narcissist."
Jimmy Connors, another popular chap at Wimbledon, was also a "total `personality'" and McEnroe and Agassi also achieved "personality" status. The two used to spend a lot of time together, and when questioned about their relationship, Agassi described it as "completely sexual". "Does such raillery inevitably come about when self-love runs up against mutual admiration? Or is it part of a bonding ritual between `personalities' of the same peer group?" Amis asks.
In contrast to the "personalities" are the "characters" who inhabited the golden age of tennis - Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and Ashe. In modern tennis, Pete Sampras is praised for his talents ("according to the computer, he is almost twice as good as anyone else in the sport") and a happy lack of "personality".
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again say analysts
World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas
Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new
Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'
- 1 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 2 Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it to blame for the disease that has killed thousands?
- 3 Star Wars memorabilia called a 'bit of plastic' on Antiques Roadshow by Fiona Bruce valued at £50,000
- 4 Meet Thea, Norway's 12-year-old child bride
- 5 Russell Brand might seem like a sexy revolutionary worth getting behind, but he will only fail his fans
Kobani: Fifteen-year-old boy taken captive with suspected jihadist 'shot in the head by militant group' fighting against Isis
Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it to blame for the disease that has killed thousands?
Isis fighters 'crucify' 17-year-old boy in Syria
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: Olympic star must serve 10 years, prosecutor urges
Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Sorry Judy Finnigan – Ched Evans is no less sickening than an alleyway rapist
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Workers 'could be forced to pay £5 a week' to get benefits
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
Competitive: Notting Hill Prep School: Spring Term 2015 Innovative, ambitious ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Operations Data Analyst -...
£35 - £40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: As the Programmatic Business Develo...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is currently recruitin...