An American, Arthur Ashe was the first black male to win at Wimbledon. His South African match with Jimmy Connors fuels Mathabane's dream of becoming a great tennis player. Even though Ashe loses the South African match to Connors, he provides Mathabane with evidence that blacks can succeed not only in the game of tennis but also in breaking long-standing racial barriers. Ashe becomes Mathabane's role model and his inspiration.
Aunt Bushy is Granny's teenage daughter who still lives at home with her mother. She pays for her nephew Johannes's school trips and gives him lunch money on a regular basis.
Granny is Mathabane's maternal grandmother. "Her genial brown eyes had the radiance of pristine pearls. She was, I think, the most beautiful black woman I ever saw," says Mathabane. An excellent and experienced gardener, she is forced to raise her children alone after her husband leaves her for another woman. She works ten hours a day, six days a week, for white families in Johannesburg. She is a tower of strength to her daughter and her grandchildren, opening her home as a refuge from Jackson Mathabane's abuse. Most important, it is Granny who secures work for the eleven-year-old Johannes with the Smiths of Johannesburg. With her, he makes his first trip into the city and the unknown world of white wealth. There he is introduced both to the game of...
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