Sally Bradfield's inside, fictionalised, look at the world of professional tennis

Sally Bradfield at the Australian Open with her newly-released Not Quite 30-Love, about life on the professional tennis circuit.
Sally Bradfield at the Australian Open with her newly-released Not Quite 30-Love, about life on the professional tennis circuit.

Sally Bradfield has worked with the world's top tennis players, drawing from these experiences to write Not Quite 30-Love, a fictional book launched this week.

The Wentworth Falls woman was the communications manager for the Women's Tennis Association Tour in the 1990s and 2000s.

She worked alongside the likes of the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, Maria Sharapova, Martina Hingis and Monica Seles.

She then joined the men's tour as brand manager, running major events for Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Federer is "every bit as good as he comes across," Bradfield said. She also worked in a communications role with the outspoken Bernard Tomic, who she described as being "quite receptive to advice," while admitting he was "definitely challenging to work with", his father a challenge too.

"Sometimes people say dumb things in a moment and don't know how to get out of it," Bradfield said. "Often when we say something stupid it's 'cause we weren't prepared."

Bradfield came on board with the WTA not long after Monica Seles made her return to tennis following a couple of years break after she was stabbed by a tennis fan during a tournament in Germany in 1993.

"She lost her sense of safety and being indestructible. She'd also lost her father [recently]. It makes it harder to come back from things," Bradfield recalled.

Bradfield started writing Not Quite 30-Love 10 years ago, but "the version was way too close to my own life."

Several drafts later, she's fictionalised the plot and modernised it to include present day issues, such as the perils of social media.

The novel follows the life of Katie Cook as she navigates fame, fortune and love on the professional tennis tour. She joins the tour as a publicist, seduced by the appearance of glamour and her weakness for bad boys.

Bradfield won't name any names. "There were several male players who seemed to be enjoying themselves enormously on the tour," she said.

There was always a party happening somewhere, and there was a "lot of opportunities for naughtiness."

Bradfield chose to launch the book during the Australian Open, which she attended with her partner Nicole Arendt, a retired tennis player. Together they run tennis and fitness clinics in the Mountains.

With increasingly hot summers and lingering bushfire smoke, moving the date of the Australian Open to a cooler time of year has again been raised.

Bradfield was adamant the tournament shouldn't be moved, citing the US Open, and tournaments in the Middle East and Asia where tennis is played in the heat.

"Tennis is a summer sport, so a large percentage of the year will be in oppressive heat," she said.

The Australian Open was also incredibly popular because it's held in the school holidays, she said, adding that players are given breaks and looked after.

  • Not Quite 30-Love, is available for purchase as an Ebook here or via this website.
This story Life on the tennis circuit, from someone who lived it first appeared on Blue Mountains Gazette.