Racquet 14 | Cover by rock poster specialist Aaron Lowell Denton
Racquet 14 – ‘Our solitary pursuits issue, conceived and executed during quarantine. Andrea Petkovic on holiday, selfies from Stefanos Tsitsipas a.k.a. Steve the Hawk and Serena and Venus singing karaoke on the lower East Side.
As the world paused, affecting everything from our quotidian routines to the professional tour—which provides us here at Racquet with a framework in which to organize our year—we’ve been doing some thinking. We’ve been grateful that tennis is a sport that is already solitary, interior, distanced, all adjectives that have always described the sport but have taken on enhanced meaning in these times. Some of us are grateful that we can play, safely, with friends across the nets, with ball machines, with the most formidable of opponents: the wall. Some of us are taking a needed respite, nursing injuries or resetting mentally for when it’s safe to reemerge.
We’ve always wanted this publication to be timeless, celebrating the past and present of tennis and providing a forum to dream about its future. As of the date of this publication, there is little tennis as we know it, though the nets are finally being hung again on our beloved/hated public courts as this edition of the magazine, too, comes to life. We made this issue as a means of reflecting this moment in a way that will feel relevant once these weird and troubling times are a distant memory.
To that end, we present what among ourselves we’ve been calling the “solitary pursuits” issue, which reflects an internal dialogue we’ve been having with ourselves as well as our closest collaborators. Presented here are things we do by ourselves, things we miss, personal obsessions (like skateboarding, photography, or an obscure racquet sport), vacations we’re not taking and books we’re finding solace in, the digital romances that can’t—or never would—materialize in real life. And we end with a moment of joy: Kareem Black’s photos from the time Venus and Serena showed up to our local karaoke party.
Despite the lack of safe professional tennis, the pros are represented here. Stefanos Tsitsipas (or Steve the Hawk, as he’s known when he’s feeling philosophical) chronicles for us how he spent the early days of lockdown, and Andrea Petkovic recounts a disastrous, solitary rehabilitation assignment that calls to mind the forced isolation of our times (however, Petko brought this one on herself).
Around New York City, where we make the magazine, quarantined children have taken to decorating their apartment windows with pictures of rainbows as a small gesture of thanks to our essential workers, who are forced out of their solitude and enduring risk to care for the rest of us. To us, the ribbon tying together our cover, by rock poster specialist Aaron Lowell Denton, is a nod to that gesture as well as the beautiful geometry our sport inspires and that will again feature prominently in our lives.’ (From Racquet: David Shaftel)