The tennis world is reacting to death of former South African president Nelson Mandela, who passed away Thursday at the age of 95.
The news broke just a couple of hours before former pro James Blake’s annual fundraising event “Serving for a Cure” was to take place in New York City.
Blake shared some thoughts with me on Mandela’s death before his fundraiser:
“It’s tragic. Obviously everyone has known that he’s been sick for awhile and struggling. Obviously a long life.
“It really makes you look back on what he did and what he accomplished. Most people can’t accomplish it in a hundred lifetimes what he did on ninety-some-odd years. It’s incredible, a testament to his persistence to what he believed in. If we all had that type of passion and vision it would be a pretty amazing world.
“[I] actually just read a quote this morning about how many of us really affect others. You know this world isn’t about trying to be the big dog or try to get what you can when you are here, it’s about the effect you have on others. And I think the fact that I read that this morning and then throughout the day learned of the passing of someone that embodied that quote was interesting to me.
“I think we all need to look back and just be thankful for what he did bring to this world.”
The event, held at New York Citiy’s 69th Regiment Armory, saw a sometimes light-hearted and intense tennis exhibition with Blake, former world No. 1 and now sports broadcaster Andy Roddick, current U.S. No. 1 John Isner, and actor Boris Kodjoe, with former player and current tennis broadcaster Justin Gimestob acting as the emcee.
The exhibition raised funds for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, specifically the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Research Fund, which supports early detection cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The fund is named after James Blake’s father, who died from stomach cancer in 2004. Serving for the Cure began in 2005.