Sporting Life

Don't sweat it, kids, let players manage their own smelly towels

Towels? Real men don't use towels? In the Kolkata humidity, sweat like slow rain down the back, our racket handles made of slippery leather or just ancient towelling, no one had towels on court. So what did we do I asked my pal Paul, one of my tennis partners in the 1980s. Hell, he said, you just wiped your forehead with your wristband, dried your palm on your shorts, and continued to play gloriously third-rate tennis.

Towels are the subject again ever since Fernando Verdasco scared a ball kid by gesturing irritably for his. He'd have never made it in Kolkata. Or Wimbledon in 1980. On Friday I scanned through 10 random points of the legendary tie-breaker between McEnroe-Borg and didn't even see a towel, a rag or a napkin.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 14, 2018, with the headline 'Don't sweat it, kids, let players manage their own smelly towels'. Print Edition | Subscribe