In the latest edition of TenniStory from the Tennis Channel, former world No. 4 James Blake details how personal and outside events led him his latest book, “Ways of Grace.”
In an incident that caused ripples on a national landscape, Blake was aggressively attacked by an undercover police officer in September 2015 in New York City in a case of mistaken identity.
“It was something that was just so shocking at the time to feel that vulnerable, to know that you’re completely in their hands and at their mercy,” said the Tennis Channel commentator. “It’s a difficult situation.
“I’ve been up nights since then thinking about what could have happened if I fought back.”
Since then, Blake has been determined to make a difference in cases like this. Recently, it was announced that instead of going through with a lawsuit against the city of New York, a legal fellowship that will investigate police misconduct will be created in Blake’s name.
Another motivating factor was thinking about one of his longtime heroes, Arthur Ashe, and the impact that the former Wimbledon champion had outside the realm of sports.
“He wanted to use his voice to influence and help others in a positive way,” Blake said. And Ashe’s book, “Days of Grace,” provided further inspiration.
“I wanted it to be a book really about something, something that I care about, something that will hopefully make a difference and open a dialogue, open a discussion, about race, about activists, about athletes that are doing good things,” Blake added.
While some outside observers feel that athletes should only stick to sports, Blake notes that “athletes are human beings. They have real issues that are on their mind.
“Any sort of discussion on those topics, I think is a positive one.”