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Durban tennis legend turns 95

Joan Warren, who turned 95 last week, still plays tennis regularly on Saturdays at the Windsor Tennis Club in Glenwood. Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

Joan Warren, who turned 95 last week, still plays tennis regularly on Saturdays at the Windsor Tennis Club in Glenwood. Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 15, 2022


Joan Warren may have just turned 95 years old, but she simply “doesn’t feel it” ‒ and the young-at-heart great-great grandmother still plays tennis every Saturday.

Warren, who is well-known in Durban tennis circles, is likely to be the oldest tennis player in the city, saying she has been playing game, set, match since her school days.

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Growing up in the Cape, Warren came to Durban as a young woman and has played for various tennis clubs over the years. She currently plays for Windsor Tennis Club, where she is also a committee member.

Meeting the IOS team on Tuesday, the sprightly player was happy to knock around a few balls on the court, despite the searing summer temperature.

Warren said: “I still play every Saturday, weather permitting. I can’t play quite like I used to play, I used to be a lot better.

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“I never think about being 95 and I still do all the things I normally do.”

That includes joining the social get-together for a drink after three sets on a Saturday. She still drives her own car and enjoys reading ‒ and of course, watching major tennis tournaments on television.

“I will sit all day long watching tennis, although I also read like the devil; I can read a book in two days and my bookcases are full.

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“I always used to get up at 5.30 every day and go to the gym four times in the week and on the other day, I went to Bible study. I never confessed to any sins though,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.

Warren said her husband Charles “left too soon” some 20 years ago, and she had eight or 10 great grandchildren: “I can never keep count”. She had three daughters and lives with her remaining daughter, Leslie, 69.

Speaking about tennis legends, Warren said Rafael Nadal and Chris Evert-Lloyd stood out for her. Commenting on the current storm over unvaccinated Novak Djokovic defending his Australian Open title Down Under, she said she would like to see Djokovic defend his title, adding “I don’t like to judge people.”

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She said that “more love and friendship” were needed in a world “gone crazy, just look at all the things that are going on” and her own philosophy was to create smiles for those around her.

“I like to enjoy myself and to make people smile and laugh. I like to keep people happy and if a piece of cake brings a smile to people’s faces, I’m happy to do it.”

Windsor Tennis Club chairperson Lyn Grandemange described Warren as “an amazing person, she’s a role model for all of us. She has a heart of gold and is just phenomenal”.

Windsor Tennis club committee member Roland Stansell said Warren was “hugely loyal and involved as a club member, come rain or shine she’ll be here to play”.

“She’s also a very generous person, she’ll arrive with a Christmas hamper for a raffle, or other hampers for raffles during the year and often arrives with cake and sweets for everyone,” said Stansell.

Social tennis players are welcome at the Windsor Tennis Club in Glenwood from 1pm every Saturday.

The Independent on Saturday

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