James Riley Blake

By Thursday, September 8, 2005 3 No tags Permalink 0

Even though he wasn’t able to beat Tennis legend Andre Agassi we have to give this brotha a round of applause. Practicing in Rome in May 2004, he ran into the net post and suffered fractured vertebrae in his neck. He had to accept that he might never compete in the Open again. Blake’s father, James Riley Blake, died in July 2004 of cancer. Blake said he thinks of his father every day. Then Blake contracted a virus that left his face partially paralyzed, he had no clue when, or if, he’d even play again. But you can’t keep a good brotha down. The score was 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (6). It didn’t end until 1:10 a.m. EDT, until the 35-year-old Agassi, playing his 20th Open, had completed one of the most astonishing comebacks in Open annals. For the 25-year-old Blake, the Yonkers-born wild card who had become a poster person for perseverance, his sweet storybook ride had the most jarring of endings. But we won’t be seeing the last of this brotha. The African-American presense in tennis is being felt. James Blake is the first African-American male to reach the quarterfinals at the US Open since Rodney Harmon in 1982, and the second wildcard to reach the quarters after Jimmy Connors in 1991. With Venus and Serena still going strong the best is yet to come.

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