Featuring three passionate, loveably funny and well-informed tennis geeks, occasional superstar guests, compelling context about tennis history and a healthy dollop of affectionate engagement with listeners and their pets, The Tennis Podcast is the perfect podcast to keep up with the action this coming fortnight on the hallowed courts of Wimbledon.
To celebrate the start of The Championships, after a two-year hiatus, podcaster and tennis fan Rosie Wilby dusts off her whites, dishes up some strawberries and serves up a few questions to one of their three hosts, David Law.
What inspired you to start the podcast?
Catherine Whitaker and I started working together in tennis in 2007 when podcasts were in their infancy. We would often talk about those we enjoyed listening to. At the time that meant The Ricky Gervais Podcast and later the Alan Davies Arsenal Podcast, now known as The Tuesday Club. They made us laugh and we fell in love with the medium. Then one day in May 2012, I messaged Catherine and said, ‘how about we start our own tennis podcast?’ And off we went.
I was convinced we needed big-name guests every week. And we did that for the first year but it’s very difficult to keep up. Catherine felt that we could do it without because those were the shows we enjoyed listening to. She was right. We still do interviews but we get bigger audiences for pub conversations about what’s happening in the sport.
How do you make such a visual sport sound so interesting and exciting?
Haha thanks for the kind words. To us it is an interesting and exciting sport. So we’re just saying how we feel about it. Hopefully that comes across. I’ve been commentating for BBC 5 Live on tennis for the last nineteen years and it’s my job to make a visual sport sound interesting and exciting without pictures. So that probably also helps.
How do you plan to cover Wimbledon? Is it all the more exciting after a two year gap?
It really is. After a year in which Wimbledon didn’t happen, we can’t wait for it to return. We will produce a podcast every night during Wimbledon. And after eighteen months of recording remotely via zoom, we will finally be able to be in the same room – Catherine’s flat! We will also provide a daily Twitter commentary (@TennisPodcast) and produce daily newsletters which feature Matt’s Stat (courtesy of our third voice, Matt Roberts), trivia and predictions for the following day.
Can Roger Federer and Serena Williams win what might be their last Wimbledon?
They’re not the favourites any more but they can definitely win it. I think their entire years this year, and in fact the remainders of their careers, have been pretty much planned to target this particular Wimbledon. They are both thirty-nine years old. It’s now or never.
What inspired you to look back at tennis history in your Tennis Re-Lived series during the pandemic?
We were left with a black hole of six months without live tennis when lockdown began. We had promised daily shows during the Grand Slams to the 1467 listeners who crowdfunded us at the start of 2020. So, in the absence of live action, we decided to go back and watch classic matches together and make daily podcasts about them throughout what would have been the French Open and Wimbledon 2020.
The concept evolved into us speaking to players who were involved with those matches, coaches and commentators who were there and also producing documentary podcasts about pioneers like Althea Gibson, the first black Wimbledon champion. At the same time, we offered all of our 1467 backers a refund for the year because we knew it wasn’t what they signed up for. Only one person took up the offer. Tennis Re-Lived brought us closer to the sport than ever and gave us a chance to understand its history.
Billie Jean King – The Interview. 18 January 2021.
Once you’ve listened to the daily Wimbledon episodes for up-to-the-minute tennis news, seek out this fascinating interview with the inspirational champion and activist who campaigned for equal prize money in the 1970s, launched the women’s tennis tour and was recently depicted by Emma Stone in the film Battle of the Sexes. Listen now >>
Tennis Aggro – parts 1 & 2. 31 December 2020 / 4 January 2021.
A celebratory countdown of the best and funniest on-court tantrums and arguments. Yes, John McEnroe does feature. Although only at number six. You’ll have to listen to see who tops him. Listen now >>
Sliding Doors – part 1. 21 December 2020.
The team discuss some fascinating ‘what if…’ questions, including how Monica Seles’ career might have unfolded if she hadn’t been stabbed by a deranged Steffi Graf fan in 1993. Listen now >>
US Open Re-Lived: Althea Gibson & US Open Re-Lived: Arthur Ashe. 26 August 2020 / 28 August 2020.
Two of the more documentary-style storytelling shows looking back at pioneering players and activists who changed the game. Listen now >>
Wimbledon Re-Lived 1993-98: The Jana Novotna Story. 4 July 2020.
The emotional story of the 1998 Czech champion who had once cried on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent after a defeat to Steffi Graf. Listen now >>