Introduced by Martina Navratilova
When former pro tennis player Louise Pleming met homeless man Brian Turton in a Kings Cross soup kitchen three years ago, neither could have predicted the events that would follow.
“I got the shock of my life. Deadset. Seen her on tele a bit,”
– says Brian recalling that first meeting.
“And then I said, ‘do you want to play?’”
It was a sliding doors moment from which an unlikely friendship developed over a shared love of tennis.
Like Louise, Brian had once dreamed of making it big in the tennis world.
But whilst Louise became one of Australia’s best doubles players and an international tennis commentator, Brian’s life took a very different turn.
After winning some European tournaments, he began struggling with crippling mental health issues in his early 20s. By the time he met Louise he was homeless.
“I had no one in my life that was able to help me, there was no one in my life I could trust,’’
– says Brian.
“She gave me hope.”
“I just felt that through tennis we could achieve something,”
– Louise says.
And now they have. Brian’s life has taken a positive turn and the pair are providing a tennis coaching service for those struggling with homelessness, isolation or mental health through Louise’s Rally4Ever foundation.
Filmed over three years, this Australian Story paints an intimate portrait of a unique and unlikely friendship.
Tennis legend and Louise’s friend Martina Navratilova sums it up: “Sport knows no boundaries; it doesn’t care who you or where you came from.”
Australian Story returns on Monday 2 August.
Producer: Jennifer Feller
You can watch replays on ABC NEWS channel on Wednesdays at 12:30am, Saturdays at 6:30pm and Sundays at 2:30pm and 9:30pm. All times are AEST.