Not so long ago, the favorite exercise of Russia's political elite was the yearly hike to the top of the Lenin Mausoleum to watch rocket-launchers parade through Red Square. Today, a more vigorous leadership is choosing racquets over rockets, as the sport of tennis takes Russia by storm.
Appropriately enough, it was Boris Yeltsin who lead the stampede to courtside. His enthusiasm started in 1988 when he apprenticed himself to former Soviet Davis Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev (whom he later appointed Minister of Sport and Tourism).
When Yeltsin became President, his passion for the sport was taken up by his retinue. The President's Chief Aide Viktor Ilyushin, Presidential Security Chief Alexander Korzhakov, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev all know the difference between a backhand and a forehand.
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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
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