In her latest novel, The Singles Game (Simon & Schuster 2016; $26.00), Lauren Weisberger, the author of The Devil Loves Prada, tells the story of another heartless boss as we follow the attempts of Charlotte “Charlie” Silver to regain her tennis star status. Ten minutes away from playing her first match on the Centre Court at Wimbledon, Silver has to play in an untried pair of shoes after being told the pink soles of her sneakers don’t meet the championship’s stringent dress requirements. On the verge of winning, Silver suffers an almost career killing Achilles’’ heel injury, undergoing surgery and a long bout of physical therapy. Willing to do almost anything to get back to the top, Silver hires Todd Feltner, a hot shot trainer known for both his ability to create champions as well as his brutal methods.
“This is what she needs to do to get ahead,” says Weisberger, describing Silver’s motives for putting herself under the influence of Feltner who introduces her to a lifestyle not only of grueling practices and humiliation for the chance of earning Grand Slam titles but also to the celebrity life of magazine cover shoots, drug-fueled private parties, charity matches on private yachts and a sort-of secret romance with the sexist male tennis star in the world.
Weisberger, who has been playing tennis—though, she says, not nearly at the level of Silver—since she was around four, interviewed tennis champions, learning all she could about the game and those who play it.
“It’s not typical of me to do so much research,” says Weisberger, author of four top-ten New York Times bestsellers, “but I wanted to know everything about this world and how Charlie would fit into it.”
Like she did for fashion in The Devil Wears Prada, which was made into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, Weisberger shows us the backstory of competitive tennis. It is a sport that impacts women players in a much unkinder way. For women, she says, it’s a lonely life.
“Seven of the top ten current men stars are married, one is divorced and four are fathers,” says Weisberger, noting that Roger Federer has four children.
Of the top ten women players?
“None are married and none have children,” she says. “The statistics amazed me.”
Fascinated by how many women stars are known by just one name—Venus, Serena, Maria—Weisberg says that the women work so hard and they’re so obsessed with what they do.
“And there’s the appearance aspect,” she says. “I like the crossover between glamour and dedication. You don’t have to love tennis to love the story.”
What: Lauren Weisberger book signing
When: Friday, July 22 at 7 pm
Where: Hollywood Palms Cinema, 352 S Illinois Rte. 59, Naperville