If it weren’t for a pesky, career-ending back injury, Boris Kodjoe wouldn’t be, well, Boris Kodjoe.
He’d have the same name, of course. But instead of heating up silver and small screens, and making many a-woman do a schoolgirl blush because of the way he delivered a line (or looked doing it), they’d all be swooning at his skills on the tennis court.
Kodjoe, who grew up in Vienna, Austria, made his way to the States back in the 1990s after earning a tennis scholarship at Virginia Commonwealth University. He didn't speak a word of English, and eventually became a four-year letterman with 75 career singles wins on the men's tennis team.
After that injury – it recently reared its ugly head again as Kodjoe says he just had surgery – he let go of his professional tennis playing dreams and started modeling and acting. But that doesn’t mean that tennis took a backseat. He still plays on a high level, with pals Serena Williams and Boris Becker.
The Shadow League caught up with Kodjoe on Thursday night in Atlanta, where he, his wife Nicole Ari Parker and TLC’s Chili participated in a town hall event for General Mills’ Box Tops for Education program which will be streamed early next month on BET.com.
TSL: Your good friend Serena Williams lost in a quarterfinal match to 19-year-old Sloane Stephens in the Australian Open. That was a shocker. Is she still the greatest?
Kodjoe: No doubt, she’s the greatest. Unfortunately she’s gone through some tough issues lately. But anytime you have a player that fights through obstacles and challenges that are serious health-related issues, and come back and reclaim the top spot like that and win multiple grand slams in one year? Come on. She’s amazing. Physically, she’s superior. Mentally she’s superior. Whenever your body hold ups … she’s just completely untouchable. Absolutely, she’s the greatest. I think that she will win another five or six grand slams at least.
TSL: Did you talk with her right after her match with Sloane?
Kodjoe: No. I haven’t talked with her yet.
TSL: What are your thoughts on Sloane?
Kodjoe: I’m impressed. I played with her when she was I think 13 or 14, at an event. She’s got the bite, which is the most important part. She has the talent physically and she’s very athletic. She’s fast. Her instincts are great. Her forehand is incredible. She’s getting stronger and her serve is getting better and better. She’s got a great career ahead of her. I’m expecting great things.
TSL: How’s your game? You still playing?
Kodjoe: I just had back surgery, but I’ll be back in the next few months, for sure. I can’t live without it.
TSL: Are your kids into tennis?
Kodjoe: My son already plays tennis. He’s very good. I’m not pushing him, though. I’m not going to do the “tennis dad” thing!
TSL: Real House Husbands of Hollywood is a different look for you …
Kodjoe: It’s so funny to get that reaction. People haven’t seen me acting like that. It’s more like breaking free. Hollywood has put me in that box. I have never gotten any offers to do anything funny. My best friend Chris Spencer writes the show, he knows how to write for me and bring that out. I’m completely free. He brings it out of me. It’s fun to mix it up with these comedians. It’s made me flexible. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had. And it’s getting wilder by the week.