CATS purr, dogs bark and birds chatter. It’s like you have entered a zoo.
The Black family’s homestead in the posh suburb of Mandara is the closest you can get to a countryside life in Harare.
It’s the perfect retreat for their daughter, Cara; away from the pressure of the professional tennis circuit and the drone of New York, Sydney, London or Paris. It’s a break from the demands of tennisÂ fans.
Cara Black, Zimbabwe’s tennis icon is in the country on a mid-season break. She is catching up with family and friends after a gruelling half-season on the professional circuit.
Cara is young sister to Byron and Wayne Black, the former Zimbabwe Davis Cup stalwarts. Their father Don, who was influential in his kids’ rise, died three years ago. Mother, Velia, is still around and keeping the family together.
“It was tough to lose my dad,” Cara says. “He had a great impact on my career and I feel I owe him, and now I play and fight to make him proud.”
Black is a winner of several Grand Slam doubles titles, the latest being the 2008 US Open which she won with American partner Liezel Huber, then the 2008 WTA mixed doubles won with Leander Paes of India.
The last two years have simply been fantastic for Black. She has won 11 tournaments out of the 22 sheÂ contested in. That’s a success rate of 50%! For Venus Williams, Martina Hingis or Steffi Graf, that’s a record these tennis greats would certainly be proud of. Therefore to the dimunitive Zimbabwean, it’s a record worth a place in the country’s Hall of Fame for sports.
She says about the impressive record:Â “In life each and every one of us desire to achieve something. As for me, asking for more than I achieved in the last two years would be utter greediness!” Â
Her partner and great friend, Liezel Huber, changed her nationality from South African to American after her country of birth failed to give her a guarantee that she would be selected to play in the Olympic Games in Beijing.
“It’s great to play with her,” said Cara. “We have a great understanding of each other since we come from the same region. We are great friends off the court too.
“(However) I’m Zimbabwean and I love my country. I’m not at all influenced or tempted to change nationality. She (Huber) did so because she is married to an American and she has lived in America for the last 15 years.”Â Â
Cara, who married her Australian trainer Brett Stephens two years ago, was part of Team Zimbabwe at the Beijing Games where she lost in the first round. It was her third successive Olympics after she also represented the country in the Sydney and Athens Games. Â
“It was a good feeling being part of the team,” she said. “It felt good to have the national spirit hanging around. It would have been better with more medals. I hope we will do better next time and bring something home.”
Last weekend, she conducted a coaching clinic in Harare, where several budding players came in numbers to learn from their role model: “I was inspired and impressed by the level of talent displayed. It was good to see that level of promise in spite of the economic and social situation in our country.”Â Â Â
Apart from tennis, Black enjoys the outdoor life and animals. Her favourite hideout while at home is Lake Kariba.
Family and friends play a key role in Cara’s career. She constantly keeps in touch with her mother and friends back home when on tour.
“Whenever I’m on tour I always give myself time to communicate with people from home and get abreast with their lives,” she says.
I talk to my brothers a lot too. They are a good source of advice and inspiration.”
By Kudzayi Tigere