Louisville Magazine

AUG 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.19 21 Aretha Fuqua wanted to kill that ball. It was the early 1980s, and she was still new to tennis. The six- foot-two-inch Fuqua had recently graduated from Kentucky State University, where she had played basketball, and she found that tennis required similar hand-eye coordi- nation and precision. But she needed to trade sheer force for finesse. "You don't get points for hitting it the hardest," said Arthur Lloyd Johnson, a staple on the courts at Chickasaw Park and a member of the West Louisville Tennis Club who would go on to be in the Kentucky Tennis Hall of Fame. "He had a very stern kind of voice," she says to- day. "It was one of those voices that you didn't want to disappoint." For the past three years, Fuqua has been the president of the West Louisville Tennis Club, which has about 55 members and has been around for 97 years. Fuqua pushed the club to transi- tion from "nothing more than a social organization" into a nonprofit. Amid city budget cuts, a fundrais- ing campaign raised $12,000 to repair the Chicka- saw Park courts before this summer's Arthur Lloyd Johnson Memorial Tournament. The club partners with several elementary schools to teach kids from the West End tennis fundamentals, but also those same lessons Johnson passed on to Fuqua years ago: determination, teamwork, how to be kind. Fuqua was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis about 10 years ago. She says that staying active on the court has helped her manage the pain. She sees that longevity in the other members, many of whom are now seniors. "These people that I so ad- mired when I first started, they're still in the tennis club today, which says to me that you can play this game forever," she says. "All you have to do is keep moving, keep moving, keep moving." — Charles Wolford and Dylon Jones THE PORTRAIT When Hana Ali first listened to the audio tapes her father, Muhammad Ali, gave her — a collection of musings, memories and advice he had recorded — she planned to release them as a series of recordings titled Conversations With the Greatest. But as she discovered new material — boxes of newspaper clippings her grandmother had held on to and letters Ali had sent to Hana's mother, Veronica Porché Ali — she realized she might have enough material for a memoir. The result is At Home With Muhammad Ali, in which Hana Ali, one of Muhammad's nine children, offers an intimate portrait of family life with her father through drawings, poems, letters and recordings. She says that her father was flawed ("He wasn't a faithful husband") yet "lived his life as an open book." We asked her to reveal a few suprising things from the book about her father. "Throughout the recordings, he would get calls from the guards at the gate — we lived in a gated community — and he would say, 'Send them in.' He'd go answer the door himself." "The person he was at home was not the same person you saw on television. He was still lively and energetic, but he was quiet. He sat in his office for hours at a time just returning fan mail, having visitors, doing magic tricks." "He loved to entertain people. We would play hide-and-seek and he would pretend to be Dracula. That was a daily occurrence. He would climb into my dollhouses with me. I would wake up in the morning, run down to his office, sit on his lap, and color and draw. He could be on the phone with a head of state, but he would never turn me away." "If my father saw a homeless person, he'd pile them into the backseat — they were coming home with him. They would eat with him. It didn't matter how they smelled or how they were dressed. Seeing a father do this, we thought this was the way things should be. When we would get an allowance, we'd go looking for homeless people to buy food for. Our father taught us, through his actions, that caring for people, helping people, was a natural part of life." The Inside Scoop By Hope Reese READ Aretha Fuqua West Louisville Tennis Club president

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