WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, TENNIS STAR
JAMES BLAKE LOOKS ABOVE TO HIS DAD FOR INSPIRATION
-- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
Rising tennis star James Blake, who came back from a broken neck and made the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open this year, credits his deceased father with supplying inspiration to get past difficult times in big matches. Blake is profiled by Mike Wallace on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Nov. 27 (7:00-8:00 Pm, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
In his quarterfinal match with Andre Agassi during the U.S. Open this year, his father, Tom, who died of stomach cancer, was with him in spirit. If the fans wondered what Blake was doing when he looked up and mouthed some words during the fifth-set tiebreaker, Blake's mother, Betty, knew immediately. "He looked up and he said, 'Dad, I love you,'" she tells Wallace.
Blake explains his look-up-and-play moment to Wallace. "I was thinking how much [his dad] would have enjoyed being there. I think he would have been proud of the way I played," he says. "And that's actually what I was thinking about at that time." He lost to the older, legendary Agassi in what will be remembered as one of the all-time great U.S. Open matches.
The neck injury he suffered when he ran into a net post on court early last year was "the best thing that ever happened to him" says Blake. It kept him out of pro tennis long enough to spend time with his father during his last agonizing days waiting for the cancer to take him. Now he draws inspiration from his father's ordeal when he misses an opponent's shot or fails to score on one of his own. "If I think of my dad, I realize it's not that big a deal. And it puts it into better perspective, thinking what he went through -- without complaining," says Blake. "I shouldn't be complaining about one bad point, one�shot and missed opportunity," he tells Wallace.