Ana Ivanovic is not the only tennis pro who learned to play the game in an empty swimming pool. Meet Mansour Bahrami who is probably one of the most talented tennis â€œlegendsâ€ you may not know. He first learned tennis in Iran in an swimming pool using a broom handle as a racquet.Â In his book The Court Jester – My story by Mansour Bahrami (2009, AuthorHouse, English translation by Nigel Forrest) Bahrami examines his life from childhood to the present day as a favorite on the Legends circuit.
Bahrami, born in 1956, played on the ATP tour from the mid-seventies through the nineties attaining career high rankings of 192 in singles and 31 in doubles. Bahrami, along with his doubles partner Eric Winogradsky reached the doubles final of Roland Garros in 1989.
I first had the pleasure of seeing him play during the US Open many years ago during the Legends doubles events before it changed to its current World Team Tennis format. He both impresses and delights audiences with his athletic ability, trick shots, showmanship and genuine love for the game. I recently spoke with him on the phone from his Paris home about the book.
The inspiration to write The Court Jester came from former pro and former coach of Roger Federer â€“ Peter Lundgren. During the course of a three-hour car ride with Lundgren, Bahrami told his life story. Lundgren urged him to put down on paper saying – â€œitâ€™s not a life, itâ€™s an adventure story.â€
Bahrami who was born in Iran, was on the cusp of entering the ATP circuit top tier level in the 1970â€™s when political turmoil exploded in his country. The Shah was deposed and with the Ayatollah Khomeini ruling Iran, tennis was banned throughout the country. Despite many barriers he was still able to achieve his dream of becoming a professional tennis player competing with the likes of â€œBorg. McEnroe, Connors and the rest..â€
â€œCame the revolution and then we couldnâ€™t play (tennis) anymore.â€ So Bahrami left Iran for France for the opportunity to play professional tennis again. â€œWhen I came to France for three and a half months not being able to play because with an Iranian passport I could not go anywhere. I started on the ATP Tour after 30 years old.â€
His family still remains in Iran. He calls the state of tennis in Iran â€œterribleâ€Â and feels the government is not doing much for sport in general, especially tennis. â€œTennis is at the bottom of all the sports. The president of the federation was telling me that they have budget of 40 thousand dollars year.â€
So who are Bahramiâ€™s favorite players to watch in todayâ€™s game? â€œRoger Federer, Rafael Nadal and (Jo-Wilfred) Tsonga.â€
The book is an autobiography, historical novel, and adventure story all rolled into one. Along with engaging stories about how he overcame all of his challenges in life, the chapters focusing on being on the tour with Bjorn Borg, Ilie Nastase, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Guillermo Vilas are priceless and not to be missed.
Bahrami continues to play a very full schedule, which includes Legends events at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and many other smaller events around the globe. He intends to keep playing tennis as long as he is able to perform. If you have a chance to see him play or rather, â€œperform,â€ do not pass up on the opportunity â€“ he is a magical showman on court whom everyone will enjoy, tennis fan or not.