"How's that?" asked the Tyro.
"Well, for example, I'm quite sure that He'll have me a great deal more virile next time. But Russian. So dull. It's a terrible thing to be dull, so when I am a presenter, an interpreter, an M.C.—whatever the proper word—there is an extra dimension I want to give to the people listening. Perhaps just a phrase will open the window a bit.
"I'm an incurable romantic, but then, I think most people are inclined toward romanticism. Not long ago, at Manhattan Beach, Martina and Chris were in the final. I stood up for the introductions and said, 'Ladies and gentlemen, as children we all thought, the week long, that Sunday would bring us something especially nice. Well, it's my pleasure to assure you that today is one of those Sundays when something nice has happened to us all.' And, you know, they all applauded. I was brought up in such a totally outdated era, but I still believe that people will respond to grace and graciousness."
The Tennis Tyro decided—and Teddy might never have figured this out himself—that what Teddy does best of all is employ the first person plural. Even before the Me Generation, this device was not widely in evidence. However, when Teddy takes the microphone, standing there at courtside, all 6'4" of him looming, to introduce the players at the couple of dozen tournaments for which he handles that assignment, he doesn't just ladle on the adjectives—delectable...extraordinary...beautiful...lovely...pleasant pleasure (the Tyro was so busy underlining that one he missed getting down the next two and a half adjectives)...-ful...ideal...magnificent. No, above all, he always makes us feel a part of things. When he introduces Navratilova, for example, Teddy doesn't say, "She's been playing 10 years." He says, "The 10 years she's been with us...." And when it's time to begin play, he simply says, "Thank you for being with us and sharing in all this pleasure."
Tennis is an assassin's game. I'm not just talking about the players. Tennis officials take offense very personally. But then, we shouldn't be surprised, should we? If you don't identify with your subjects, you can't govern, can you? So you see, in all that I do in tennis I'm surrounded by strong men, and virility is institutionally rivalistic.
Teddy explained to the Tyro how he came to tennis precisely 60 years ago this past Jan. 4. That was the day he was standing in a crowd in Nice, where his family had moved because he had bronchial problems. Though just a gangly 13-year-old kid, he looked so keen that he was invited to umpire Lenglen's next victory (Lenglen did not experience defeat). The rest is not history; that moment of divine intervention was history. The rest is love. Teddy has never been far from tennis since then.
However, most of you are Americans, so you're itching to know, well, what else has Tinling done, you know, outside of tennis? Here are some of those things:
?Prepared for a life as a musician. "If Suzanne hadn't come along," he says, "I'm quite sure I would've ended up as a bad concert pianist."
?Designed dresses. From childhood he had a "passion for making clothes." He was happily making scarves for British soldiers at the front when he was only five, and his mother gave him his first sewing machine when he was 15. By his majority he was in business for himself, and he was one of the leading designers in London for the carriage trade until Hitler started marching through Europe.
?Run a bad business. As his dear friend, Marilyn Fernberger, the Philadelphia tennis promoter, says, "Money is never a motivating factor with Teddy. If he gets started on a dress and decides he prefers 20 yards of pure silk to one yard of nylon, he'll use the silk and never think to charge the difference." The Tennis Tyro thought David Selznick probably had Teddy in mind when he observed, "There are only two kinds of class: first class and no class."