This is why your brief return to tennis last week, during the BB&T Atlanta Open, was an amazing idea.
As someone who grew up watching you, it was a joy and a privilege to see you return. An Andy Roddick match was a bit of a family event in my younger years. Four of us would gather around the TV and root for our favorite player. This past week, those same four people gathered around a laptop screen to watch a pretty bad stream of E. Butorac/A. Sitak vs M. Fish/A. Roddick.
The slight reprieve from the Roddick retirement was a treat for tennis fans around the world – those who could find the streams at least. It wasn’t just a treat because we got to sit in awe as you served up aces at 139 miles per hour, or because we got to see you grinning after winning a game, or because we laughed as Mardy slapped your ass appreciatively after you held serve. While these were nice bonuses, what we really saw in this Atlanta run was a prime example of the community, camaraderie and respect that tennis can bring about.
It was nice to have you back for a week, but it was nicer to have you back to support your friend.
Maybe it is was taking off your socks to give them to Mardy when he needed new ones in his singles match against Sela; maybe it was laughing with each other during changeovers; or maybe it was the hug after you’d lost the match, but it was clear that this tournament was about the legacy that tennis has left on you.
So maybe I’m a sucker for an uplifting story, like Mardy making a comeback to leave tennis on his own terms, I won’t deny that, but that doesn’t change the fact that no matter how great it was to see the Andy Roddick back on the court, this wasn’t a comeback for you. This was restitution for Mardy. For someone who won Atlanta twice, was a top-ten player, and who has an Olympic silver medal under his belt, it’s only right to leave the sport amicably. That’s what made you returning to tennis for a week so special. None of this was for you: this is, and was, all about Mardy, and not about Mardy’s career or legacy, but about his relationship with the sport we love, and helping him love it again. For assisting in this noble effort for a beloved player and person, I say cheers to you Andy. Thanks for sharing your tennis with us again, and thanks for doing it for Mardy.
All the best to you, and to my favorite man in K-Swiss (even if it’s Travis Matthews now),
#StayHappy, Megan Shea
HappySlamTennis U.S Correspondent