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Santhanam a great admirer of sport: Ramanathan Krishnan

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: "I do not know whether he loved tennis because of me or loved me because of my tennis." This was the reaction of Ramanathan Krishnan to the death of T.S. Santhanam of TVS Group on Friday.

"My beloved Santhanam has passed away," bemoaned the tennis ace recalling his five-decade long association with the industrialist whose interest for sport, especially tennis, is legendary.

Krishnan said he met Mr. Santhanam first in the early fifties at the Egmore Stadium. Krishnan particularly remembered a match that he was winning at Wimbledon on court No. 3, when he heard a lone Indian voice shouting in encouragement. To his surprise, Krishnan saw Mr. Santhanam seated in the gallery, discarding his VIP seat somewhere in another part of the venue.

He also recalled how Mr. Santhanam shared a table with him on the same evening in an Indian restaurant in London's Craven's Street for a vegetarian dinner. Krishnan was with his wife for that dinner.

What touched Krishnan most was Mr. Santhanam's presence when he won that unforgettable match for India against Thomas Koch of Brazil in the semifinal of the Davis Cup in 1966 at Calcutta.

Even more memorable was the vociferous support he received from Mr. Santhanam at Forest Hills. "Not many Indians travelled all the way to see matches at Forest Hills. But he did," Krishnan said. Another facet which Krishnan admired was Mr. Santhanam's sharp memory even in old age.

"While discussing on ATP rankings not long ago he corrected me on some details. Such was his sharpness of memory," Krishnan observed.

" He was a rare specimen of simplicity," Krishnan said and acknowledged Mr. Santhanam's invaluable support for him both in tennis and in business.

The world of sport has lost a great admirer, friend and a philanthropist.

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