The Iranian Revolution and Tennis: Mansour Bahrami & Ali Madani

Mansour Bahrami. (Julian Finney / Getty Images)

Three decades ago, their fates in sports and in life were determined by a tennis match. Bahrami and Madani, who are now 53, were swept up in the political turmoil of the Islamic revolution. Almost overnight, tennis was forbidden, as Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini viewed the game as pro-American, capitalist and decadent. To Bahrami, Madani and the handful of other fledgling world-class players, the edict was a crushing blow.

With tournaments in Iran canceled and foreign travel out of the question, the players pleaded with the minister of sport for the opportunity to compete. The government finally relented, and a tournament was organized for the last week in July 1980. It was called the Revolutionary Cup, and the first prize was a round-trip ticket to Athens.

- “Islamic Republic Crushed the Dreams of Iran’s Top Tennis Players” – NYT