Love me, love my game' says twenty-three year-old Willy Novinsky. Ever since she picked up a racquet at the age of four, tennis has been Willy's one love, until the day she meets Eric Oberdorf. She's a middle-ranked professional tennis player and he's a Princeton graduate who took up playing tennis at the age of eighteen. Low-ranked but untested, Eric, too, aims to make his mark on the international tennis circuit. Willy beholds compatibility spiced with friendly rivalry, and discovers her first passion outside a tennis court. They marry.
Married life starts well but soon gives way to full-tilt competition over who can rise to the top first. Driven and gifted, Willy maintains the lead until she severs her knee ligaments in a fall. As Willy recuperates, her ranking plummets whilst her husband's climbs, until he is eventually playing in the US Open. Anguished at falling short of her lifelong dream and resentful of her husband's success, Willy slides irresistibly toward the first quiet tragedy of her young life.