Rutherfurd on Rutherfurd
Q. What was your ambition as a child?
A. To be a professional tennis player.
Q. What caused that?
A. One of the kids at my school discovered you could volunteer to be a ball-boy at the All England championships - which used to be an important event that took place during the spring school holidays. They were played on clay courts and all the great players came: English names like Christine Truman, Roger Taylor, Anne Hayden-Jones, Americans like Billie-Jean Moffat, as she then was, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson for Australia. I've been on court many times with them all. I got the tennis bug seriously.
Q. Do you still have it?
A. God, yes.
Q. You said you wanted to be a professional; but in those days the game was still mainly amateurs.
A. Correct. You went on to become a professional. But during my time as a ball boy, they changed the rules at Wimbledon and the professionals came to the All England tournament too. The first year was amazing because all these other players we'd read about but never had the chance to see turned up. Pancho Gonzales, Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad, even Drobny.
Q. You were on court with them too?
A. Every one of them. It's as close as I've ever been to heaven.
Q. But you didn't become a tennis professional.
A. I played, but not well enough.
Q. If you'd had the talent, would you have chosen writing or tennis?