One of the nicest guys in world tennis is the 6ft 5 inch Czech Tomas Berdych. Currently ranked at number seven, Tomas is known for having one of the cleanest and hardest hitting games on the ATP Tour. He has the ability to generate great pace with his serve and groundstrokes. He reached his first and only Grand Slam final at Wimbledon in 2010 after beating defending champion Roger Federer in the quarters and Novak Djokovic in the semifinal. He lost to Rafael Nadal in the final. He has reached the semifinals of all the remaining slams – Australia (2014), French (2010) and US Open (2012).
On every occasion I have met Tomas, he has always been friendly and happy to sign. At the ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2 earlier this month was no exception and he happily signed and dedicated this sketch.
Rising tennis star and world number eight Milos Raonic was born in Yugoslavia (now Montenegro) but grew up in Ontario, Canada.
The 23 year old has one of the strongest serves in the world. From his 6foot 5 inch height he served more aces per match and won a higher percentage of service games than any other player in 2012. His fastest serve has been clocked at 249.9 km/h (155.3mph) at the Roger’s Cup – which is the fifth fastest serve ever recorded. Novak Djokovic commented that Milos’ serve was, “very powerful, very precise”.
Unfortunately, Milos retired with a thigh injury from the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 in London earlier this month before his final round-robin match with Kei Nishikori. Luckily he signed my drawing before that!
I first met a relatively unknown Angelina Jolie at a FoxSearchlight function in early 2000, during the annual ShoWest Convention in Las Vegas. She was promoting her latest film, GIRL, INTERRUPTED which had just been released in December 1999. As it turned out it was to be her breakthrough year, winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the sociopath mental patient Lisa Rowe in the film. Critic Roger Ebert said of her performance, “Jolie is emerging as one of the great wild spirits of current movies, a loose cannon who somehow has deadly aim.”
Since then she has had more hits than misses. Angelina recently announced she would be spending more time behind the camera in future, concentrating on a fledgling directing career. Her latest offering is the WW2 epic UNBROKEN, which had its UK Premiere at the Odeon in London’s Leicester Square last night (25.11.14). I’ve sketched Angelina a few times and like many other drawings, have carried them around in the ever increasing folder ‘just in case’. She is an excellent signer and there have been numerous opportunities to get them graphed, but somehow it never happened. This particular rendering looks unfinished, but I liked the minimal lines-just enough to ‘capture’ her without having to overdraw to create a representation. In spite of the inclement November weather and a very tight timetable, Angelina, as usual, did ‘the line’, signing as many as possible, including my portrait with the few lines, before disappearing into the cinema for the screening.
Actor, action choreographer, comedian, director, producer, martial artist, screenwriter, entrepreneur, singer, stunt performer, all-round good guy and cultural icon Jackie Chan signed this sketch for me at his Hong Kong production studios.
I missed him recently at the BFI in London. He was so popular it was impossible to get his graph – much easier to mail it. Thanks, Jackie.
American Michael Chang became the youngest male tennis player to win a Grand Slam Singles title when he won the French Open in 1989 at the age of 17 years and 4 months. He peaked at world number two in late 1996, the same year he reached the Australian and US Open Finals.
Michael has strong religious beliefs and commented on his famous win, “I almost kind of feel that it was almost God’s purpose for me to win The French Open”
Known for his fighting spirit and on court speed, Michael introduced the jumping two handed back hand.
He is the coach of world number five Kei Nishikori and was at London’s O2 Arena with him this year for the ATP World Tour Finals and signed my sketch there, adding his usual message, “Jesus loves you”.
Popular Brazilian tennis player, and former world number one Gustavo Kuerten is among clay court royalty, winning the French Open three times. His first title at Roland Garros was won in 1997 when he was ranked number 66 in the world. He won his second title in 2000, defending it the following year.
He is known as ‘Guga’ – an affectionate nickname which is a common abbreviation of the name ‘Gustavo’ in Portuguese speaking countries. Guga became a tennis icon with a blistering first serve, backed up with the ability to chase down every ball, a unique grunt when he strikes the ball and outrageously colourful clothing.
His beaming smile and engaging personality bought a lively atmosphere to tennis stadiums around the world and made him one of the most popular players with fans and his peers alike.
In 2000, for the first time, the number one year end position came down to the final match of the season. Guga defeated superstar Andre Agassi at the ATP Word Tour finals in Lisbon to win the title and take the number one position which he held for 43 weeks over his career. He was inducted into the tennis hall of fame in 2012.
It was an absolute pleasure to meet him at this year’s ATP World Tour Finals, at London’s O2 where he signed his distinctive ‘Guga’ graph.
The James Plays – James I, James II are a thrilling trilogy of history plays by award-winning Rona Munro. They previewed at this year’s Edinburgh Festival before a limited run in repertory at The National Theatre in London, finishing on the 29th October.
James McArdle (James I) Andrew Rothney (James II) and Jamie Sives (James III) play the lead roles, bringing to life three generations of Stewart Kings who ruled Scotland in the tumultuous 15th Century.
The Daily Telegraph gave the production 5 stars, calling them, “astonishing… could be the finest history plays ever penned.”
Germany’s Boris Becker the former number one men’s tennis player is the coach of the current top ranked player Novak Djokovic. He won Wimbledon in 1985 and 1986 at the age of 17 and 18, the first non seed to do so. He again won in 1989 and finished his career with six Grand Slam titles and an Olympic Gold Medal in doubles.
His booming serves, heavy forehand, penetrating volleys and diving saves were an immediate crowd favourite. They called him “Boom Boom,” a term he disliked, saying it was too, “war like”. His highly dramatic has spawned other sayings however, such as the “Becker Faust” (the Becker fist), the “Becker Sage” (the “Becker Saw”, when he pumped his fist in a sawing motion) and the “Becker Shuffle” (the dance he often performed after winning an important point).
Boris signed the sketch for me at the O2 pier while he attended the ATP World Tour Finals in London last week.
The outstanding Richie McCaw, considered the greatest New Zealand rugby player of all time, will become the first player to lead the famous All Blacks in 100 matches when he captains the legendary team at the Millennium Stadium against Wales this weekend.
It’s a fitting venue for the milestone. Nearly 10 years ago to the day, a 23-year-old Richie was handed the captain’s armband for the first time at the Cardiff ground in a nail-bitting 26-25 victory over a strong Welsh side. With 137 Test appearances, he is the most capped All Black and now becomes the solo member of the 100 Captain’s Club. Richie is the most celebrated rugby player in the world, winning the IRB International Player on a record three occasions from eight nominations.
During his tenure as captain the All Blacks have won the Team of the Year seven times and are expected to add to that at this year’s Awards. The only remote thing I have in common with the great man, apart from our Kiwi ancestry is our attendance at Otago Boy’s High School in Dunedin (although not at the same time). It was not mentioned as he signed this ‘energetic’ 4B pencil sketch at the team’s hotel in London before they played England a couple of weeks ago.