think that many times one feels oneself to be secure and, suddenly, one's world
falls down like a pack of cards in a matter of seconds."
Ba-boom." The floor is made of ceramic tiles that are the color of
buttermilk. "Bip-bip. Ba-boom." The walls are marble halfway to the
ceiling. "Baba-da-boom. Baba-da-boom." There is chipping plaster, and
water pipes all around. "Bip-bip. Boop-ba-boop. Boom." And mirrors and
stalls and a long wooden bench. "Ba-boom. Bip...bip...babada-boom.
In the faded
elegance of a dressing room underneath the stadium of the Buenos Aires lawn
tennis club, Guillermo Vilas waits to go upstairs for another tennis match.
Waits and sits. Stands and dances. Sings and taps a small stick.
have been a Brazilian," Vilas says. "How fantastic they are with the
music. DeMoraes, the singing poetry. Toquinho on guitar. Maria Creuza, the
vocals. I saw them all in Punta del Este once. A concert recorded live.
Unbelievable. All the Brazilians are so natural with the music. You go into a
bar and there they are drumming and tapping on everything. Ba-boom.
Ba-ba-da-boom. Metals, wood, the floor, the chairs. They click glasses and
spoons and fill the bottles at different levels so they get the different
notes. Bip-boom. They become a band. People singing and laughing and dancing on
the tables. Ba-boom.
"I fly away
with the music," Vilas continues, now working on the marble and the pipes.
"Boop-bip-ba-boom. Yes, sometimes I wish I was making music. I speak to
Burt Bacharach in Caracas. He said he went crazy listening to the Brazilians.
He said he would help me with my songs. Yes, Bacharach will come here and I
will go to California and meet the big guys. My songs will be love songs. But
not for lovers, you know? Love songs for all people. I want that. Yes, I want
to make music.... I will.... I know I will."
professional tennis has established itself as one of the big sports of the '70s
is that it has grown far and wide and variegated enough to have at its highest
level such disparate personalities as Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg and Guillermo
Vilas. Though much has been made of their diversity, the notion persists that
Connors and Borg are not so dissimilar after all. It is Vilas who is different.
Vilas, the poet. Vilas, the romantic. Vilas, the mild bull of the Pampas.
Though probably lacking the raw ability of his two rivals, Vilas may have the
greatest appeal to the public.
earned a reputation for nastiness while wearing his heart, not to mention his
middle finger, on his sleeve. Conversely, Borg is well-mannered but exhibits no
recognizable human emotion past a wink. And although they have performed
prodigies on the tennis court, they are sadly deficient in the social graces
and general knowledge. Indeed, it sometimes seems that they went directly from
childhood to manhood, while cutting classes, as it were, in the lessons of
youth. Perhaps that is why, in their press conferences and public utterances,
Connors, 25, and Borg, 21, can express themselves only in jock rhetoric or
downright baby talk. Conversation? Forget conversation. They don't know what
conversation is. If all the nets of the world suddenly were ripped asunder by
Darth Vader, Jimbo and Bjorny would have to take to the streets selling
This is not the
case for 25-year-old Guillermo Vilas. Besides being one of the three best
tennis players in the world, Vilas is a published author of prose and poetry.
He has written a screenplay and collaborated on songs to be recorded in
Argentina. He is a philosopher, a musician, a reader, a thinker. Even if Vilas'
book of poetry were nothing more than recipes for carbonada criolla and his
musical notes badly off-key; even if his Renaissance-man reputation is based on
nothing more than "phantom depth," as one touring pro charges, that is
beside the point. On his own the man reads, writes and composes, and he does it
for only one reason. The self. Himself.
Vilas is bright,
handsome, articulate. He is honest, witty, sensitive. He makes tons and tons of
pesos. You might not want your daughter to marry a tennis player, but Guillermo
Vilas you'd approve of.
This is a
simplification, of course. Vilas' passion for the esthetic, his artistic
nature, derives in large part from the circumstances of coming from a broken
home and from the hurt inflicted by incessant reference to him in the Argentine
press as a loser and "the eternal second." "I am a very complicated
person to get involved with," Vilas says. "I am not easy to know on a