In 孙曜东’s fascinating memoir 浮世万象, there’s a chapter about a tennis exhibition match between “two of the world’s best players” that he helped organized. I was slightly suspicious about the “world’s best” part, so I looked it up and he sure didn’t bluff.

The only account of the event I can find online is a section of a concise tennis history, but Bill Tilden and Ellsworth Vines were true stables in the tennis hall of fame. Vines was indeed No. 1 in 1936 when their oriental tour occurred.

And what a shame that Tilden is all but forgotten as one of the all time great, if not the greatest ever. At 43, Tilden was past his 1920’s prime and would be considered advanced Alzheimer nowadays, but he could still rip a “cannonball” serve and beat anyone 20 years younger if he really wanted to.

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