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Roddick hits the baseline and the books

Andy Roddick spoke about his love of tennis history and the chance to play at Forest Hills Stadium ahead of his two-game stint with the New York Empire last week.
CNG / Laura Amato
By Laura Amato

Former US Open champion and world No. 1 Andy Roddick admits that he’s a bit of a nerd.

Roddick says he would spend his entire day reading up on sports history if he could, but more often than not, he’s a bit preoccupied playing tennis.

Despite retiring in 2012, Roddick has stayed on the court as much as possible and his jam-packed schedule has frequently made it difficult to devote any time to in-depth historical research. Luckily, his most recent tennis endeavour has allowed him to meld his two interests.

Playing in the inaugual season for the New York Empire—the latest team to join the Mylan World TeamTennis league—Roddick is front and center for tennis history. The longtime tennis star made his Forest Hills Stadium debut Aug. 9 and joined the Empire for a road matchup the next night. Roddick, of course, was determined to play well, but his inner historian was also pretty excited at the prospect of playing at the stadium.

“I don’t have a lot of firsts left, playing in certain places and seeing certain things,” Roddick said. “But I recently got to play in Newport at the Hall of Fame and then to play here a month later is a big deal to me.”

Although this was the first time Roddick played at Forest Hills Stadium, it was far from his first time on the WTT circuit. In fact, the Nebraska native can trace his personal tennis roots back to the league, which Billie Jean King has been commissioner and major owner of since 1984.

“I was 17 and before I even had a ranking of any sort, Billie Jean kind of gave me a shot with a team in Idaho,” Roddick said.

Roddick isn’t 17 years old anymore, but he still relishes the opportunities that WTT presents, particularly at this point in his career.

Over the last four years since announcing his retirement at the US Open, Roddick has devoted his time to charity work – pouring his resources into his eponymous foundation—and expanding his own career opportunities. He joined the staff at Fox Sports 1 in 2013 and co-hosted the station’s flagship program Fox Sports Live before serving as an analyst for the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage in 2015.

“I loved the opportunity I was afforded at Fox,” Roddick said. “I’m happy for the experience. I don’t know what the future holds as far as broadcast for me. Nothing on the immediate horizon, but I certainly enjoyed it.”

Although Roddick isn’t keen on committing to any soon-to-come endeavours—tennis or broadcast—he is anxious to see what the future of U.S. tennis holds. He’s a historian at heart, but Roddick remembers what it’s like to be a young player and he’s excited at what the next wave of homegrown talent can bring to the court.

“If you want to equate our young tennis prospects to a farm system in baseball, I think it’s as good as it’s looked in 15 or 20 years,” Roddick said.

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