Robert Plant, 55, the Led Zeppelin frontman and avid tennis
player, recently released a compilation of his solo work, From
Sixty Six to Timbuktu.
SI: You've said that Jimmy Connors--who's about your
age--inspired you to pick up a tennis racket? When was that?
Plant: About 15 years ago I just started knocking the ball about
and realized what a beautiful game it is.
SI: It's been reported that you're an "advanced-intermediate"
player at your club in Worcestershire, England. What's your game
Plant: I'm a baseliner. I can't move that fast. I play a lot of
league matches, but I must tell you that I'm awful. My tennis
kills me. Sometimes I see God, and sometimes I'm in a huge abyss.
SI: But don't you get to mix it up with some of the world's best
Plant: Once I was doing a gig in Sydney, and a kid came up and
asked me to play. I met the guy the next morning, and we had a
knock. I said, 'Wow, he's pretty good.' Someone told me he ought
to be, he won Wimbledon. It was Pat Cash. But I didn't know him
from a hole in the ground. When I was on tour, I would hook up
with the best facilities and players. But in truth, it's a lot
like letting some tennis star up on the stage to play in the
SI: Who is your favorite player?
Plant: I am always pleased to see Andy Roddick do well. I like
watching Federer. A lot of the Spaniards are starting to look
great. But the serenity of Andre Agassi's game and the way he
seems to approach things is something I really admire. He has it
down so good. It's superb.
SI: How's Jimmy Page's tennis?
Plant: [Laughs.] Who? No, no, no. Jimmy's not a tennis player. I
love the thought of that. We could play against that Guns N'
Roses singer, Axl Rose. He looks like he'd be a good player. I
can hold my own against other musicians. I played the guitarist
from Judas Priest once. It was fun. But I had to beat him.
SI: When you play, do you wear the famous golden locks in a
ponytail or let them fly?
Plant: Not only in a ponytail but clipped and buttoned right back
up so nobody would know me. I'm just a guy there with a pair of
aviator Ray Bans staring into the faraway sun. --John Clarke Jr.
For more from Robert Plant, go to si.com/siexclusive.
COLOR PHOTO: STEVEN TACKEFF/ZUMA PRESS (PLANT) Follows the baseline