A champion on and off the court

Diane Fishburne, 52, is the top-ranked women's 50 tennis player in the world.

Experts at MIT, major medical schools and elite think tanks have to be scratching their collective brains.

The long division doesn't compute. The anti-aging results are ahead of the infomercials.

Charleston's Diane Fishburne isn't just one of the best tennis players in the whole wide world, the 5-2, 113-pound mix of athletic power and wisdom is a reality show deserving of a good time slot.

Here today, various other spots on the globe sometime soon.

The latest: Fishburne, 53 and the current International Tennis Federation world singles champion in the women's 50's category, has been one of four players selected by the U.S. Tennis Federation to defend America's 2010 title in Bueno Cup competition. The event is Feb. 21-26 in New Zealand.

The long trip is the residue of years of aerobics classes, running, lunges, bike riding and, mostly, tennis triumphs over women (and men) much younger.

"An accumulation of all that keeps me going," said Fishburne, a former College of Charleston tennis All-American who is a teaching pro at the Country Club of Charleston. "I've had my share of injuries and I've had to make some tweaks but I love it. It doesn't seem like anything that difficult. It's just part of my schedule and it's what I do."

But decades of world age-group singles domination is just part of Fishburne's well-rounded game.

She also more than excels at mixed doubles with her son, Matt Hane, and is digging her sneakers into charity work.

No. 1 mother-son

Cool and confident even in world-class singles competition in another country, Fishburne is a nervous wreck when playing doubles with her 28-year-old son.

Never mind that Hane played No. 1 singles at George Washington University and works as a teaching pro on Kiawah Island.

"It's a lot of pressure for me," Fishburne said. "I don't want to let him down. It's a totally different ballgame. He's very good and they don't want a thing to do with him, so they hit a lot of balls at me."

Hane thinks the whole thing is "hilarious."

"I've been to so many singles tournaments she has played at and at pretty much every tournament she's the No. 1 seed, the clear favorite and everyone knows who she is. People are scared of her, basically," he said. "Then we get out there for these mother-son things where, with one or two exceptions, she is light years ahead of the other moms.

"But, yeah, she really does freak out about it. I'm laid back. Because I know I can hang with the other guy and that my mom will be way better than his mom."

Not surprisingly, Matt and Diane finished 2010 as the No. 1-ranked mother-son team in the country.

They plan to try for a sweep of the three major national mother-son tournaments in 2011 with trips set for Chicago, San Diego and Sanibel, Fla.

Special friends

"It's so exciting traveling with him," Fishburne said. "We get to hang out as adults and not as a kid who has to get to bed on time. It's so much fun. We laugh and he says things like, 'Mom, don't worry.' It's like the roles have been reversed."

Hane also is impressed with mom's charity work. Fishburne says she has "become attached" to the tennis players associated with Special Olympics programs in Charleston, Walterboro and other parts of South Carolina.

"I really like knowing that I know these people," Fishburne said. "The neat thing is the relationships I have built with them. There are a lot of different personalities. Some like to be hugged a lot, some you don't really touch. But you definitely form relationships."

She also participates in Rally for the Cure and breast cancer fundraisers, volunteers with inner-city tennis programs and helps with Family Circle Cup wheelchair tennis events.

"She's really gotten into it these last four or five years," Hane said. "She devotes a ton of time. It's become a big part of her life and she loves it. She's thrown herself into it about as much as I've ever seen anyone do it."

No international rankings in that category, just a lot of smiles spread around the state thanks to a woman known for winning all over the world.