© Ella Ling

Novak Djokovic - on floor

Sir Trevor McDonald: my tennis life


Sir Trevor McDonald, Britain’s first black television news anchorman, and a member of the All England Club, discusses his tennis life (including the time that Yannick Noah was “very rude about my serve”). 
I was a late starter.
“I started playing in the West Indies when I was in my early 20s. The weather was always good, and you would look at things and think, ‘I can do that’.” 
I’ve come to realise that I develop bad habits very easily, and need regular coaching.
“What that meant is that you never have any serious coaching. It’s only 15 or 20 years later that I thought there were aspects of my game that people should tell me about, and I started getting some coaching. I now try, whenever possible, to play with people who are better than me. As I’ve got older I’ve realised that you can never stop learning, or being told how to do things properly. You develop bad habits very easily, and the longer you have them, the longer it takes to eradicate them. So the only answer is to constantly have coaching or to play with better opponents. It’s taken me 50 years to work this out, but you’re always learning.”
Yannick Noah was once very rude about my serve
“I’ve been a member at the All England Club for the last three or four years, so I can always get someone much better than me to hit with me. I play with Buster Mottram occasionally. I’ve hit with Virginia Wade, Stefan Edberg, Mansour Bahrami and Yannick Noah. When I played with Bahrami, I didn’t hit a ball. He would take my shots and leave his shots for me. Yannick Noah was very rude about my serve.”
I watch too much tennis, and I’m just an Australian Open short of a ‘live’ grand slam.
“It’s an amazing time for tennis. You learn so much from watching them. When you look at the physicality of Nadal, you think, ‘he’s unbeatable’, and then you see the steel and the nerve and the perseverance of Djokovic. It’s amazing. Then there’s the grace of Federer, he’s glorious to watch. I also think that the Williams sisters have done an enormous amount for tennis. I watch a lot of tennis. I watch too much tennis, in fact. I’ve been to the French Open and US Open, as well as Wimbledon, and I was tempted to go to the Australian Open this year, but then decided it was a bit too far to go.”