NEW YORK—In 2016, about a week after retiring from basketball, a sport he dominated over the course of 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant was back on the court. The tennis court, that is.
Hitting balls with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, Bryant's groundstrokes weren't as deft as his shooting strokes on the hardwood, and his volleys needed some work。 But after a few hitting sessions, like so many others, he had picked up the tennis bug。
"Enjoying playing tennis and actually being good at playing tennis are two different things," Bryant says.
Bryant's connection to tennis has only grown since. He continues to play recreationally, and he'd love to see his youngest of four daughters pick up a racquet someday. He was at the US Open on Thursday, watching Naomi Osaka alongside Colin Kaepernick; on Friday, he took part in the pre-match coin toss of Roger Federer's third-rounder.
And then there's this: he just wrote a book about tennis. To be released September 3, Legacy and the Queen is, as Bryant puts it, a children's book that connects sports to fantasy. In it, a young woman named Legacy must win a tennis tournament to save the orphanage she grew up in.
That's the sports element. But there's a fantasy element, too. The players in Legacy have "inner weather"—how they feel inside affects what happens outside. Playing conditions, the actual weather—even the size of the court—can change based on their internal emotions.
"I needed to create content for my children。 I didn't see that out there," Bryant says。 "I didn't see content for children who enjoyed playing sports。 I wanted to take something that had a fantasy appeal to it, but connect it to sports。"
Bryant goes into greater detail about the project, and his relationship with basketball and tennis, in the above video with Tennis Channel's Jon Wertheim. You can order Legacy and the Queen at
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