SI: You've said that Jimmy Connors—who's about your age—inspired you to pick up a tennis racket? When was that?
Plant: About 15 years ago I just started knocking the ball about and realized what a beautiful game it is.
SI: It's been reported that you're an "advanced-intermediate" player at your club in Worcestershire, England.
What's your game like?
Plant: I'm a baseliner. I can't move that fast. I play a lot of league matches, but I must tell you that I'm awful. My tennis kills me. Sometimes I see God, and sometimes I'm in a huge abyss.
SI: But don't you get to mix it up with some of the world's best players?
Plant: Once I was doing a gig in Sydney, and a kid came up and asked me to play. I met the guy the next morning, and we had a knock. I said, 'Wow, he's pretty good.' Someone told me he ought to be, he won Wimbledon. It was Pat Cash. But I didn't know him from a hole in the ground. When I was on tour, I would hook up with the best facilities and players. But in truth, it's a lot like letting some tennis star up on the stage to play in the band.
SI: Who is your favorite player?
Plant: I am always pleased to see Andy Roddick do well. I like watching Federer. A lot of the Spaniards are starting to look great. But the serenity of Andre Agassi's game and the way he seems to approach things is something I really admire. He has it down so good. It's superb.
SI: How's Jimmy Page's tennis?
Plant: [Laughs.] Who? No, no, no. Jimmy's not a tennis player. I love the thought of that. We could play against that Guns N' Roses singer, Axl Rose. He looks like he'd be a good player. I can hold my own against other musicians. I played the guitarist from Judas Priest once. It was fun. But I had to beat him.