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By Blair Henley | Friday, February 28, 2014

 

Despite his emotional departure from the game at the 2013 US Open, James Blake says he has no regrets about calling it quits. Find out what he's been up to in our Q & A. 

Photo Credit: Susan Mullane

Former world No. 4 James Blake called it a career last fall after a heartbreaking five-set loss to Ivo Karlovic in the first round of the US Open. Despite his post-match tears, Blake acknowledged that transitioning out of the tennis world would have its perks. “You’re on a pretty selfish schedule for a big portion of your life,” he said of his career. “I’m looking forward to not having that.”

We caught up with Blake six months into his retirement at the PowerShares Series Camden Wealth Advisors Cup in Houston, Texas, where he shared what he’s been up to since exiting the ATP Tour (hint: it’s not exercising.). 

I feel like we need to start with the obligatory “How’s retirement treating you?” question.
It’s great. I’ve always wanted to take a little time. I’ve been lucky enough to be spending it with my family. Most dads don’t get the opportunity to wake their kids up in the morning, play with them and be with them when they are going through their formative years.

Are there household chores you can’t escape anymore, now that you’re a retired man?
Everything. All of the ones that my wife used to say, “Okay, while it’s during a tournament, I won’t say anything.” [Now] if she has to wake me up, she wakes me up. If I’ve got to do something, I’ve got to do something. For some reason she’s stopped making me those great breakfasts she was making me (laughs). I’m giving her a hard time, but she’s been unbelievable to me. She still takes it easy on me, but I’m doing a little more than I was doing back then.

What is it like transitioning out of a life packed with intense physical training? Are you still working out a lot?
No (laughs). It’s so weird. Now I’m at the point where I’m happy [PowerShares Tennis] came along because it’s given me a reason to get back into shape. It also made me realize that I can get out of shape really quickly. That’s another thing my wife jokes about. She says I’m so much easier to deal with now on no sleep. She said I used to be so crabby when I had no sleep, but that was because I had to go out and train for four hours and worry about being healthy. Now it’s no big deal. If I’m tired, I’m tired. I don’t have to worry about getting up at 7:00 or 8:00 to get right out onto the court or into the gym. I don’t need to wake up sore every day. It’s great.

So it’s safe to say you’re happy with your decision to retire?
I miss the competition a little bit, but I’ll always miss that. I think any athlete that has gotten to play in front of these kinds of crowds and has done what we’ve gotten to do is always going to have a soft spot in his heart for that competition. I’m not one of these people who gets out here now and says, “Oh man, maybe I could still do this.” Nope! Now that I’m not training as much, I realized how much I was training and how hard it was. Before I didn’t appreciate it. When I was playing, it seemed natural because it was every day. You were just living it. Now I realize - that was a lot of work!

These events have given you a chance to spend some more time with Andre Agassi. He sets the bar pretty high for life after tennis, doesn’t he?
He’s an amazing story. A lot of people were inspired by him. What he’s doing off the court, I’m guessing he’ll probably tell you, is even more important. He is a perfect example of someone that can use what he did on the court for good, to help society in a positive way. I’m trying to do that with my charity. Unfortunately, my voice isn’t quite as loud as Andre’s, but I’m doing my best.

Have you two exchanged head shaving tips?
(Laughing) We haven’t. We probably should. He seems to do a pretty good job. 

 

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