Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - *Rolls Eyes*. . . Whatever!
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*Rolls Eyes*. . . Whatever! 12/15/2006 - 2:10 PM

(Ed. Note - The fifteen of every month is now designated as TW's official Lurker Amnesty Day. Steggy and I invite one and all - especially you lurkers - to post tributes to, or general comments on, to Lindsay Davenport, the subject of this post. Lindsay basically retired from the game yesterday. - PB)

Well, we had quite the OT discussion (hiccup!) last night, but by light of day we're once again mild-mannered inquiring minds focused on tennis, Right? So let's get back to the second story that popped up on the radar during yesterday's ultimate good news (Lindsay's pregnant!)/bad news (Lamar Hunt died) day. That would be Lindsay's effective retirement from tennis for a far better reason than chronic back pain or death-by-wealth (remember, this girl very quiet piled up over $21 million in prize money; that's a lot of gear at American Girl, huh?)

Anyway, I'll kick it off with a confession: Lindsay is the player I hate to love. But I can't help myself.

I can think of a dozen things to rant against her about, because she makes my job tricky. She's the anti-thesis of the enormous, papier-mâché model of the archetypal warrior against which we ink-stained wretches like to measure tennis champions. We want our tennis champions to, in the words of Jimmy Connors, “spill their guts” (something Jimbo did frequently, and without a trace of self-consciousness), and we want them to snort fire and rain brimstone down on their rivals. We want them to, in the words of John McEnroe, “take the sport to the next level.” We want to hear them say, in the words of Andre Agassi, “I stood on your shoulders and you lifted me.”

We also want them to “leave it all out there” and then, after squeezing every ounce of potential out of their bodies and minds, go gimping off into the twilight, driven off by the younger jackals, waving and muttering, “Tennis been very good to me!”

To all of which Lindsay, A SoCal girl through and through, cheerfully replied “No way, dude!”

She is, after all, the human equivalent of the rolled eyes, followed by a drawled, “Whatever!”

Among blue-chip champions, she will forever be known as the dissident. Nothing could make her suppress her mellow gene, which isn't to say that she was above experiencing acute stress (the opposite is true) or bitter disappointment or even existential doubt (she spent a good part of her career waging a generally unsuccessful battle against demons of self-conscious that any girl who has always been big can tell you all about). But she was the absolute master of getting past those fleeting blows and dark moments. Lindsay was great at moving on; waking up each day to a new sun.

In a way, Lindsay was the closest thing to a slacker that tennis has ever produced. Just compare the official parting words she showered on our friend, contributor Bonnie DeSimone, to those we heard so recently  from Andre Agassi:

I hate the word 'retirement' but this season was such a struggle physically for me and I can't imagine playing again. I feel like the second part of my life is about to begin. . . I can't say there's any sadness yet about missing tennis. My life is with my husband and my future child. I feel so lucky that if everything goes well, I'm able to go out like this. The timing couldn't be better."

This isn't a farewell address, it's a getaway speech!

And that's vintage Lindsay.

LdactAnd here's the really weird thing: Lindsay was a four-time year-end No. 1, an Olympic gold medalist, a Grand Slam title holder at every major except the French Open, and the winner of 51 tournaments – just nine short of Andre Agassi’s take, and 9 up on one of her career rivals, Martina Hingis. Those glittering stats are a tribute to her game and amazing ability as a ball striker. No player has ever worked so hard to fly under the radar. If she were at a cocktail party and somebody called out, Hey, anybody in here ever win a Grand Slam title? Lindsay would be the one asking the bartender for another mineral water, pretending she hadn't heard a thing.

It's hard to appreciate how Davenport could be so blase about her status without understanding this critical element in her biography: Unlike fellow prodigies Steffi Graf and Monica Seles (among others) Davenport led a typical, teen-ager's life well into her prime as a player. And we're not talking "typical" in the way the spinmeisters like to apply it to every child laboring in a tennis sweat shop: She likes horses! She enjoys Instant Messaging her former friends from middle-school and Quentin Tarantino!  She visited the mall last week! She's leading the life of a regular teenager!

By the age of 14, everybody was saying that Lindsay was going to be the next big thing, although that was just about the time that, owing to her height and weight, the last thing she wanted was the be the next big anything. At the time she graduated from Murietta High School in 1994, she was not just a regular high schooler with regular issues related to her not entirely regular appearance, she was in the World Top 10, and destined to hit No. 6 by that summer.

What this means is that instead of being sequestered at some tennis academy, surrounded by fawning handlers working overtime to shield her from reality and keep her focused on tennis, Lindsay was struggling with the familiar pains of high school life while kicking booty and taking names on the pro tour.  It helped that she On her CV, tennis was not under the heading, "Occupation,"  but "Hobbies and Activities." Once established, the pattern pretty much stayed that way, even when she became a full-time tennis pro. You could easily call her The Last Amateur, although she was so good that the idea of going on to college instead of the pro tour was an absurdity that even she couldn't contemplate with a straight face.

Lindsay appeared to like regular life so much that even as she accumulated a great record, she seemed to want to distance herself from it. It often seemed that the last thing she would want to do is dominate, so at some critical junctures in her career (the notable exception was that spectacular, superb Wimbledon final she lost to Venus Williams in 2005), she went into a funk, seemed to lose interest, moped and choked. . . she found amazing ways to lose, and often cut the perfect role model for anyone mired in negativity. She sometimes she won it appeared to be because she'd run out of other options. Is this fascinating, or what?

"Rolls Eyes. . . Whatever!"

But we continued to love Lindsay through all of that. It was partly because she was painfully self-conscious about her size and appearance in spite of her awesome talent and achievements, and partly because she has a sharp wit, a tart tongue, and a willingness to speak her mind. And we loved her because she could never run fast enough or hard enough to escape her own greatness. It kept punching through.

LdcelOf course, there is an entirely different if less intriguing way to look at this. For Lindsay was also a player who had severe and conspicuous limitations that didn't prevent her from compiling a record that will be acknowledged in the International Tennis Hall of Fame long after the vivid memories of her struggles and issues have faded away. Lindsay was one of the most gifted ball-strikers ever to grace the game. Sure, the service motion was awkward, but the groundstrokes were like silk, fired with uncanny accuracy and depth. They were utterly grooved and held up remarkably well under pressure, despite all the things that can go wrong when there's as much arm and body involved as there is for Lindsay.

Yesterday, my fellow Senior Editor Jon Levey wandered into my office and we got to talking about Lindsay. Jon thinks Lindsay is the ultimate testament to the coaching genius of Robert Lansdorp, the SoCal guru who also left his fingerprints all over (among others) Pete Sampras, Maria Sharapova, and Tracy Austin.

"It's like Robert knew all along what Lindsay's shortcomings were," Jon said, "And he designed strokes and a game that would minimize them.  It's like he said, you can't afford to get into long rallies, so this is how you need to hit the ball and where you need to put it. And it was good enough to get her multiple slams, and to Number One a bunch of times."

Before Lindsay's last match at the U.S. Open last September, I brought up Agassi's farewell and asked her if she had thought about how she wanted to leave the game.

No, I mean, he is one of a kind. He's remarkable. You know, I think how he did it was extremely courageous, and I don't think I would ever be that courageous in terms of saying something like he did. I think it would be much more private, and I don't think I'll necessarily know until it's over.

Well, now she knows, because it's over.  We'll miss you, Lindsay.

"Rolls eyes*. . . Whatever!"

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Posted by Sam 12/15/2006 at 02:28 PM

Lindsay was one of the classiest and most grounded athletes I can recall. While I was never a fan of her playing style, she was always someone who I rooted for as a person. I wish her the best in her post-tennis life. I don't think she'll have trouble adjusting though.

Posted by Tanya 12/15/2006 at 02:37 PM

Lindsay drove me crazy. I really liked her in many ways, but so many times, I rooted so hard for her, only to see her get the "mopes" and lose a totally winnable match. I really think Lindsay was an underacheiver, I think she should have held at least five or six slam titles by the time it was over if not more. When she played her best game, no matter about her lack of footspeed, she could hit and serve everybody off the court. I'm going to miss her, I'm going to miss her great groundies and big serves, and I'm going to miss her low key attitude and gracious post match interviews and down to earth personality in a game full of histrionics and divas.

Posted by Jess 12/15/2006 at 02:37 PM

Ahhh... to have a forehand such as Lindsay's. I can only dream. I will miss rooting for her and I wish her the best.

Posted by Shabazza 12/15/2006 at 02:46 PM

Nice post. She'll be missed here, but given the circumstances of her retirement I wish her the best - no better reason to say goodbye, imo.

Posted by rudy3 12/15/2006 at 02:59 PM

According to reports, she is due in July. Hopefully she, and the new family, will trek on out to NYC, pop in at the USTABJKTC, so we can give her a proper send off...

But like Pete says, she will probably say "oh...whatever"

Best of luck Lindsay, I have enjoyed those forehand angles and down the lines. And in Australia, when you and Corrina got 2nd, you made me cry with your remarks.

Posted by Brent 12/15/2006 at 03:02 PM

Lindsay was the definition of class. It's certainly not unexpected for her to go out like this and while I'll miss her, I'm glad she's leaving on her terms... I just hope she doesn't shy away from tennis altogether. Best of luck, Lindsay!!

Posted by momofan 12/15/2006 at 03:12 PM

I felt soooo badly for Lindsay in all those close matches that she just barely lost. Apart from Amelie, she was that one girl who just drove me crazy because I wanted her to win So. Bad. I wish her the best and hope she'll be really happy with her new baby.

Also, Pete, Martina Hingis has 42 singles titles now (after adding Rome and Seoul to her collection this year). So that's nine career titles fewer than Lindsay Davenport. Just goes to show how many Lindsay's won in all those years we accused her of "not fulfilling her potential," huh?

Posted by mri 12/15/2006 at 03:14 PM

I think Lindsay deserves to settle down in life. I think she came oh so close twice (against Venus and Serena)in Wimbledon and Aussie championship. But somehow managed to pull defeat from the Jaws of victory. That said, her 1999 Wimbly finals against Steffi was perhaps her best victory. Nobody had beaten Steffi in a final that cleanly and Steffi had not lost to anybody other than Martina in a Wimby final. Lindsay wasnt broken even once in that match against Steffi.
I am curious to know if Lindsay actually surpassed Steffi's all -time prize money record. I remember she was close.

Posted by chloe02 12/15/2006 at 03:21 PM

I found Lindsay a tough player to really root for. On court, she had an imperious style which someone once described as making her look like the 'senior head girl of the tour' and that image really stuck with me. It was fun to watch her terrific run in the summer of '04 (I think it was) when I really felt she was a shoe-in for the US Open only to get the injury playing against Demented Eva.

I'm with Jess on the groundstrokes though. When Lindsay could take centre of the court and swing the ball from corner to corner, she was unstoppable. You just sometimes felt she got bored or frustrated, and then she couldn't hit a barn door.

Lindsay gave a tremendous amount to tennis over her career and I think it's great that she's got a new phase of her life to look forward to. Lindsay, enjoy the sleep filled nights while you can!

Posted by Paul Ryan 12/15/2006 at 03:38 PM

I think the first time she ever really entered my radar is when she beat Martina Hingis in the 1998 US Open. Since I was (still am) a total Hingis KAD, I immediately started to dislike Davenport.

But then she had to go and be extremely likable! She gave off such an "underdog" vibe that you couldn't help but root for her. I do agree with what some have said that rooting for her have been quite frustrating. She had the talent, but she didn't have the self-belief. She came so close to winning that 4th slam, it was ARGH!

But I'll just choose to not dwell on those for a moment and give her the respect she wholeheartedly deserves. Other than giving off that underdog vibe, she also exuded immense class, beauty, and friendliness. Her shots were a thing to behold. She will be greatly missed.

Hope her "second life" is full of happiness and joy. Though I echo the sentiment from a previous poster about her going to US Open 2007 so the fans can celebrate her.

Posted by Pete 12/15/2006 at 03:43 PM

Thanks, Momofan, and welcome back *hugs from many here*

Posted by Lucy 12/15/2006 at 03:54 PM

Aww. Such a grounded, gracious girl. Like Paul I was always kinda on the Hingis side, but Lindsay is impossible to root against. The body language may not have been a competitive asset, but it definitely made me more sympathetic.

The good thing about having tennis as a hobby on your CV is that there's plenty in place for when you retire. I think she'll make a great mother. Also, can anyone really imagine Lindsay having a big showy send-off? This is pretty much how we expected her to go out, right?

Posted by Tari 12/15/2006 at 04:10 PM

Thrilled to hear about Lindsay's pregnancy. Clearly, motherhood means way more than her career to her, and I love that.

I rooted for Lindsay often, and having missed watching her GS wins, my perspective was that she's been lacking the fire in her belly for a while. Good luck to her. :)

Posted by Tari 12/15/2006 at 04:10 PM

OK, now that double post wasn't my fault! Argh. It said there was a typepad error, I swear...

Posted by marieJ 12/15/2006 at 04:11 PM

beautifull post, pete !
i admit i never really enjoyed lindsay game, and so much UE with winning shots annoyed me... but i could never dislike her as some other players in the same situation...
i'm happy she quits for a good reason iso any injury problem like so many players had no other way to leave the game...
go lindsay !

gv girl, hello and wellcome, maybe you can keep this topic for later, ok ? i'm sure you'll get more answers...
i'm sure guga deserves an entry for himself, steggy anything in your pandora box ?

Posted by Sam 12/15/2006 at 04:23 PM

Like Lucy and Paul, I was on the Hingis side of the fence. Though I was a Novotna KAD at the time (talk about frustrating). Anyway, I saw Lindsay and Novotna team up in doubles in Philadelphia 10 years ago, and Lindsay was very gracious to the fans (actually, both were). It was also striking that she was having fun in that match, which you didn't always see with her.

Also, I agree with mri about the 1999 Wimbledon final. She played great that day. It was rare to see someone play that caliber of tennis against Graf, especially on grass, and to me that was Lindsay's signature moment.

Hi momofan. Good to see you back.

Posted by Sanja 12/15/2006 at 04:25 PM

I also could never get 100% behind Lindsay because of the body language, in terms of tennis.

It's impossible not to like her as a person and incidentally, Pete, you made me like her much more with a similar piece you wrote about her in TW, making some of the same points. What made me admire her and her family more - I believe you relayed this story, was that Pam Shriver(?) said something along the lines of the best thing about Lindsay's mother is I don't know her.

Two things stick in my mind about Lindsay: I watched her win Wimbledon one year (don't remember wasn't that into to watching at the time). Her reaction was so heartwarming she turned around faced the wall with her mouth agape and then covered her mouth with her hand (as in surprise and amazement). The other time is when she kept her composure in the wake of Venus' antics (and non congrats to her) Wimbledon 2005.

Good Luck to Lindsay, husband and new baby!

Posted by Sanja 12/15/2006 at 04:28 PM

Wimbledon 2005 - If I recall she didn't even roll her eyes. What composure!

Posted by Tari 12/15/2006 at 04:35 PM

Sanja: You're a pot-stirrer, no? ;-)

I thought the antics were pure joy, but it did make me feel very badly for Lindsay. That was a tough loss.

Posted by Sanja 12/15/2006 at 04:40 PM

Who me, Tari? -

Venus: I just thought it went on a little too long. I would've felt a lot more forgiving about it if she had congratulated Lindsay in her speech. Even if none of that had happened - exactly it was a tough loss (I kind of wanted both of them to be able to win that one) - It just showed an enormous amount of class and composure the way she handled it, regardless what one thinks of Venus' reaction.

Posted by Sam 12/15/2006 at 04:45 PM

I'm with Tari on Venus' post-match reaction. I thought she was just overwhelmed by her emotions. I do agree that Lindsay handled herself very graciously after such a tough loss.

Posted by jb 12/15/2006 at 04:55 PM

Pitch perfect post Pete (oooh - alliteration!) I always rooted for Lindsay, and loved when she was hitting the ball well. Her game just flowed beatifully, clean long lines, just lovely to watch. And without the grunting and shreiking that's so common now. Then suddenly she'd get mopey - and I'd be trying to pat her on the head and say 'there there' through the tv screen. (I tried screaming 'snap out of it' - but that didn't seem to work either...)

She just seemed like such a nice girl off court and it made it impossible for me not to come down solidly in her corner.

When she ran out of gas in Australia against Serena, I was completely dismayed. In an interview where she was talking candidly about the loss, she said that in hindsight, doubles took more out of her than expected and it mite not have been the smartest thing to do. But she would never have traded playing doubles with Corina for anything, and if it meant she didn't win singles, she was fine with that.

That I think summed up Lindsay; she has great charecter and perspective about her career and what is, when its all said and done, a game.

So much as I will miss her, I think she's right - she's going to love phase II of her life!

Posted by Pete 12/15/2006 at 04:57 PM

Most importantly, that match was pure gold. Altogether now: WARRIOR MOMENT. For both.

Posted by pointy head 12/15/2006 at 05:05 PM

Each time I would hold my breath for Lindsey in those games that she "could have won." I swore I would not watch another one. But I rooted for her each and every time. Could not help myself. She was an "American Original" that could not play but to her own drummer. One journey could only have ended with her characteristically new begining of life flowing into her new creation.

Posted by dude 12/15/2006 at 05:08 PM

I couldnt stand it when Venus beat her in the Wimbledon final. Poor Lindsay came so close that time and then she also came really close in the AO final that same year. Both times she lost to a Williams sister. I always rooted for Lindsay except for when she played Clijsters. Other than that she was my favorite player. I just really like the classy players like Davenport and Clijsters.

It is awful to see her go, but at the same time I think she will really enjoy the rest of her life.

Posted by Gavin 12/15/2006 at 05:13 PM

I always liked Lindsay, will miss seeing her play, and wish her well. Very few other great champions have such wit, unaffectated charm, and complete lack of pretension.

My favorite memory is a personal one. I took my then three-year-old daughter to see her play doubles at the '04 Australian Open. We were in the front row on a side court, and my daughter really got into cheering for Lindsay. After winning the match, Lindsey came over and spoke to my daughter for a good minute, calling her her best fan, and took a photo with her (which we still treasure). My daughter still calls her "my friend Lindsay." Name me another hall-of-famer who would do that unsolicited!

Posted by marieJ 12/15/2006 at 05:40 PM

for different reasons we have lamar hunt on "a few good men" and lindsay on "a few good women"... hopefully lindsay leaves us for her best !
gavin, my sister took her former boyfriend to RG once, and they were rooting for conchita martinez who thank them for their support and joke with them during the match...
very classy girls... and they are both gone...
and the strange thing it's that nobody left on the court can compete with their class...
you have passionate or business like girls out there but no one with a top class, no big head/big deal lose mind...

Posted by L. Rubin 12/15/2006 at 05:47 PM

Hi Mr. Bodo,

Oh, god. You brought up the "warrior moment" issue. Don't do it, sir! The Fed KADs are very, VERY, sensitive about that whole business. Sensitive souls, are the Fed KADs.


Posted by Tari 12/15/2006 at 05:54 PM

We're not biting, Liron. Out of respect for Lindsay. :)

Posted by Mark 12/15/2006 at 05:57 PM

Oh God. I'm really going to miss watching her. Strange to think back to the lack of hype surrounding her early on - she's the same age as Capriati, who we'd all heard of long earlier.

Funny how, like Hingis, her game is based around coping with one big deficiency. In Lindsay's case, fleetness of foot, in Hingis', power. It was fun to watch how she solved that problem, playing a game which is pretty much impossible for anybody else to play: nobody hits the ball that flat, with so much wrist in the shots.

The anti-competitor. In all the majors she won, she shut everybody out of the match without dropping a set, I think because she concentrated on her own performance rather than playing like a competitor. However, she did just baulk the fence on a number of occasions - heartbreakingly against Venus at Wimby - by not continuing to let rip when near the finishing line. During the game where she had match point, she didn't really go for it.

Perhaps this is partly technical. she played with such soft hands on the racquet, and when you get nervous and tighten up, the power goes. Also, she's not a player who can play the percentages, because of her poor movement, so more than anybody she needed to keep on the attack.

I'm going to miss the sheer surrealism of watching her play. Perhaps the embodiment of 'the Seles principle' as Pete coined the term a while back...

Posted by MWC 12/15/2006 at 06:03 PM

Lindsay Davenport is the perfect example of how hard work and determination can overcome lack of natural ability. She won three slam, was #1 4 times, and she's not atheltically gifted whatsoever. Blessed with great hand eye coordination and and will to succeed, she proved all the doubters wrong.

Posted by L. Rubin 12/15/2006 at 06:19 PM


Oh, go ahead and bite (if that's your thing)! I love teasing Fed's disciples, and am not above writing outrageous comments in order to start sh$# with you guys. Y'all are so earnest and passionate in your adulation of the Swiss Maestro--so passionate, in fact, that I sometimes succumb to the demands of the child within me and write fight-provoking BS. All in good fun, Tari.

BTW, I once heard Davenport say that she's crazy about Fed's game. All the more reason to love her, no?


Posted by Jason 12/15/2006 at 06:32 PM

Lindsay could have accomplished more if she had it upstairs.She had a weird serve but it was very good when it was on.I thought she could have had 8 to 9 slams.

Posted by Samantha 12/15/2006 at 06:38 PM

Davenport had such clean, beautiful strokes. I can understand people who say that she was an underachiever with only 3 slams, but they have to keep in mind, she had some really tough competition with Justine, Kim and the Williamses. I have the 05 Wimbledon on tape and it's a classic. Although I was cheering for Venus, they both put on a beautiful show. This was tennis at it highest level with two players evenly matched and giving their all, not like the Roger matches when you see one player just crush another which is boring. Lindsay is truly a sweet person, nothing phoney like Kim. I remember her hugging Venus even though the defeat had to be tough on her. I don't think she ever got the attention and respect from the media, but it never bothered her.

Posted by FoT 12/15/2006 at 07:18 PM

L. Rubin - I started to really like Lindsey when she said she was a big fan of Roger's. I thought, hum..any fan of Roger's can't be bad so I started rooting for her. She confirmed my choice when I often saw her sitting with Mirka in Roger's box. Then I read that Lindsey, Mirka and Roger often had dinner together... She (Lindsey) really started to become one of my favorite players to root for. I will miss her but I'm happy for her upcoming life as a mother.

Samantha...I'm sure one of these days you're going to say something positive about Roger in one of your posts! Surely one time I will be able to read something about Roger from you - no? lol! You know my mother use to say if you don't have anything nice to say about someone - don't say anything at all... lol...

Posted by ajv 12/15/2006 at 07:30 PM

I'm one of those who thinks Lindsay overachieved. I remember watching her practice a few years ago at the Open, when she had slimmed down considerably, and the impression you got was of woman fighting a battle with acute unathleticism, and winning by sheer commitment. If tennis were a sport where mobility did not matter, she would have been the best, with her great ball striking. But mobility, as we all know, is huge, and when she came up against the top players, who could get her moving side to side, she could not measure up. Her peak period coincided with the beginning of Fire Kitten's decline, and with the golden age of her return of serve. There was no way that she could keep that up against the newer hitters. Nevertheless, it is a testament to her perseverence that she stayed at or near the top for her entire career. Personality-wise, I always thought Lindsay, clearly a very bright young lady, played it cute, too cute for my taste. She engaged in the same kind of catty behavior as FK and the W's but always managed to do in such a passive-aggressive kind of way that she rarely got caught. I always detected a lot of arrogance behind her public persona. But there were many instances where she displayed genuine caring towards her fellow players and that always brought her back to my good graces. I'm going to miss her.

Posted by BruceM 12/15/2006 at 07:32 PM

I miss her already. Anyone else think that within 2 years she'll be chattering away with Mary Jo and Pam in the announcers box? I hope so.

Posted by Planet Venus 12/15/2006 at 07:33 PM

I'm so upset that Lindsay is retiring although i wish her all the best....even though I actively rooted against her I couldn't help thinking what a class act

Posted by Jay 12/15/2006 at 07:39 PM

As a master of extremely negative body language myself, Lindsay was always one of my favorite players. And the dry/wry sense of humor...she was the provider of so many good insights in Wertheim's book. I think that's when I first started REALLY liking her, after she freely gave so many good quotes to LaJon. She just seemed like she would be such a fun person to talk to.

As far as the baby goes...a big, fat whatever on that one.

Posted by deictic 12/15/2006 at 07:43 PM

Although Agassi's matches at the US Open were great, Lindsay Devenport's presence there resonated more with me. I guess I have little patience for window/lense metaphors, self help speeches, and sly digs at people who do their job better (e.g., the way he implied that Sampras' retirement was about winning and stopping rather than getting the most out of himself. Isn't coming out of a slump to win the big show the way a champion gets the most out of himself?). I think everyone knew they were watching Davenport for the last time, and her not knowing made me like her more. I mean, how could you not be conflicted about a decision like that? I can't dislike Agassi for the way he went out. Davenport is just more my style.

Posted by Ginger 12/15/2006 at 08:22 PM

I had followed Tennis for a very long time. I became aware of your site in January 2006 and have enjoyed it tremendously. Thank you all so much for the many hours of fun and learning. I thought it was only fair that I come out of my lurker mode and post this comment.

I loved watching Lindsay play and always rooted for her. She drove me nuts with her body language but I could not help liking her, both as a player and as a person.

She was such a refreshing change from most of the other girls who did not respect their opponents and showed their lack of class both on the court and in the media room. While other felt the need to travel with a huge entourage, she found joy in just having her mom, coach and sometimes her husband in her box.

I also loved the fact that while a lot of top singles players never made the time for doubles, Lindsay took the time, even in the grand slams to play doubles. Her final Australian open doubles match is something I will carry with me for a long time.

I hope that all the "vampire parents" and their "spoilt brats" will learn some much needed life lessons from Lindsay's mom and Lindsay.

I also hope that we will get a few more "anti-divas" like Lindsay.

I will really miss her. I wish her and her family all the best in their new journey.

Posted by marie 12/15/2006 at 08:24 PM

Lindsay defies the typical American brashness. No greed written in that face. She takes what is rightfully hers and moves on. In all her years as a player she never comes across to me as someone who accumulates everything along the way as if what she has is not enough.

Posted by Kenneth 12/15/2006 at 08:29 PM

I'll have to second every sentiment already presented here. Was there a classier player than Lindsay?? I remember feeling so uncomfortable after her amazing loss at Wimby last year, when Venus was just really overcome with the victory. But then to see her so graciously accept the runner up plate, cemented her position as one of my all time favorites. Always this girl was gracious in victory and defeat. How fitting that she would choose this auspicious way to end a great career.

Posted by Nancy J 12/15/2006 at 09:58 PM

I wrote a couple of days that I'm happy for Lindsay. Its a job well done for her tennis career, but probably more than time to move on into her "next" life as a retired tennis pro. She can step away from the game without (or at least few) regrets. Not many get to do that.

Congrats to Jon and Lindsay.

Posted by vanfan 12/15/2006 at 10:14 PM

I will miss Lindsay.

Posted by Tim 12/15/2006 at 10:36 PM

FoT- I wouldnt hold your breath re Samantha and Roger--its pretty funny to hear her rip him over being boring and ruining mens tennis, actually ... and you can bet Roger and Mirka have sent Lindsay something great congratulating her on her pregnancy, and im not surpirsed they would all be friends..their approach to life seems very very similar, low key, humble, and grounded ... i hated seeing Lindsay lose these last few years, so i guess its time for her, but ill miss seeing her demolishing those groundies.. and who else could beat Shriekie 0 and 0?

Posted by Lorraine 12/15/2006 at 10:38 PM

"As a master of extremely negative body language myself..."

Jay, LOL! Exactly. I was always able to relate to Lindsey because she seemed to be fighting so many mental demons. She seemed to real out there on the court. And of course she drove me absolutely wild with her moping and hideous body langugae. I'm going to miss her like crazy, though, especially those gorgeous unreproducible grounstrokes.

Posted by Tari 12/15/2006 at 11:18 PM

Liron: Sorry I came across short to you. :) Hard to tell the tone of the written word. I was having fun. I think your gentle jabs at Fed fans are pretty funny.

Btw, I almost went for the "Warrior Moment" talk again. So, your instinct is dead on. :)

Posted by Pete 12/16/2006 at 12:16 AM

ginger: the "anti-diva." I really like that. Welcome and don't be a stranger.

Posted by steggy 12/16/2006 at 12:56 AM


Posted by Jess 12/16/2006 at 01:46 AM

Is there anyone out there who doesn't like Lindsay? ;)

Posted by temes 12/16/2006 at 03:51 AM

This is terrifying...Lindsay's gone, Kim retires, Williamses give up careers for partying...Amelie's ageing, Justine probably dies in flu soon, Martina can't play anymore...
What's next? Do we get to follow Jie Zhengs rise to the number one spot? Ugh. Scary.

Posted by B. 12/16/2006 at 04:32 AM

I have to commend Mr. Bodo for not falling into the tired bit that's sure to snare his colleagues in the tennis media when they do their Lindsay tributes. We have often been brow-beaten about how "classy" Lindsay is, especially in contrast to the "vile" Williams sisters. But let's look at the facts:

Who was it who falsely accused competitors of a crime? (Match fixing is a crime in California.) And claiming it was "a joke" after the facts blew a hole through the tennis media's witch hunt of les Williams doesn't let her off the hook. Can anyone ever remember either Williams leveling such an accusation at a rival? One of my greatest disappointments with WTA leadership (which is a pretty lengthy list) is their failure to discipline Dementieva and Davenport after their disgusting behavior which fueled the whole Indian Wells brouhaha.

Who was it who deliberately kicked the bag of an African-American teen in the locker room while bellowing derisively to "get that junior out of here"? Lindsay. Can anyone recall either Williams doing anything remotely close to that?

Remember the 2000 Olympics run-up, when the USTA screwed Lisa Raymond out of her rightful spot as the doubles representative? It was between her and Serena. Venus, not surprisingly, stuck up for her kid sis, saying she couldn't imagine traveling all that way without Serena. What did Lindsay say on behalf of her "best friend" Lisa? Nada. Lindsay wasn't willing to put her own spot at risk to stand up for her "friend", even though she knew her health was dodgy, and it was unlikely she'd finish the Olympic tourney. In fact, she most likely only made the trip to deny Serena the chance to play singles.

2001, coming down to the wire, Capriati and Davenport for the #1 ranking. When asked by reporters if she'd consider taking extra wild cards to try and grab the year-end #1, Lindsay emphatically said "no" because the media "would roast" her for being #1 without a current slam title. Then, when Capriati stumbled early at a couple of tournaments, Lindsay eschewed her scheduled rest time to hop on the wild-card express to the year-end #1. Exactly the opposite of what she told the press. And worse, as has always happened throughout her career, whenever Lindsay plays a lot of tourneys in too short a timeframe, she got injured. (For a supposedly bright young woman, she somehow never figured that out.)

Withdrawal symptoms? Which top player, in recent years, withdrew from the most tournaments? Hint: her name isn't Williams. It's Davenport. Yet the Williamses got hammered far worse for it than she ever did. (It's what is known as the "Williams double fault", where each one's actions are attributed to the other. If, for example, Venus withdrew from 5 tournaments in a year, and Serena also withdrew from 5, each sister would be treated as if she alone had withdrawn from the family total of 10.)

Special seedings: remember when the WTA allowed special seedings at slams attached to the protected rankings. (Also known as the "oh my god, I don't want to play an unseeded Steffi in the first round" rule.) The rule stated that for all slams played during a player's 8-tournament protected-ranking window, they would be seeded by their protected ranking. Lindsay used it one year. Because she returned just after Wimbledon, her 8 tourneys encompassed only 1 slam; the USO. A short time later, the Williamses had to use the rule. Venus returned at the beginning of the season and, owing to her usual light schedule, her 8 tourneys included 2 slams; the Aussie and French. Serena returned in the spring, with a similar light schedule, and also got the benefit for 2 slams (French and Wimbledon). When complaining to the media about it, Lindsay disingenuously stated "they (Williamses) got 3" implying that EACH sister got protected seeding for 3 slams (see "Williams double fault"), and also implying that they got special treatment that was unavailable to her. And, natch, the tennis media quickly dashed past the facts in their rush to take Lindsay's side.

More griping about the rules: how about last summer? Lindsay made her return to the tour, and didn't do as well as she hoped in her first tourney back. She wanted the tour to change their "Gold Exempt Emeritus" rule so she could take last-minute wild cards into Montreal and New Haven. Under the tour's implementation of the rule, Lindsay would not have been elgible for GEE until February 2007. But despite that, and despite the fact that she was hurting a bit after the tourney she did play, and despite her packed post-USO schedule, she wanted the tour to give her special treatment (which would have resulted in her playing 8 weeks in a row, a sure recipe for injury, as mentioned above. Worse, she was already hurting, and if the tour acquiesced, she probably would have been unable to play the USO.) She whined to (and was supported by) the media, and even threatened legal action. Basically, she showed every sign of a person of privilege throwing a fit when they don't get their way.

If you want a trivial sign of "affluenza" (one of my favorite McEnroe terms), check out how the players treat the ballkids, especially when getting multiple service balls. The snobbish ones, who have a sense of entitlement, are the players who, after selecting the 2 they'll use, simply drop the remaining ball(s) at their feet and make the ballkid rush out to retrieve, instead of taking a split second to swat the excess ball(s) back to the kid. Sampras (Mr. Country Club attitude) was notorious for this. Lindsay did it a lot, until it was mentioned in a public forum. Yet both are often held up as paragons of "class". (Sampras, like Davenport, had numerous incidents of classless behavior disregarded by the tennis media.) How do the Williamses address the ballkids? They say "Please" and "Thank You", especially during changeovers when the kids get things for players. Gee, what a terrible example they set.

So what is the tennis press' big beef that causes them to label les Williams "classless", as opposed to "classy" like Lindsay? "They don't give their opponents enough credit." Excuse me? Go back and read the transcripts of any top player after a disappointing upset loss, and you'll see basically the same thing: "S/he played really well.... BUT... (dislaimer basically stating "my opponent didn't win the match, I LOST it, because these elements of my game were off...")". Yet somehow, even if a Williams plays absolutely horribly, she's supposed to say that she would have lost even had she played her best because her opponent is just so much better.

Well, closing in on the end of a long post, I don't want it to sound anti-Davenport or pro-Williams (I don't particularly care for any of those players), it's really anti-hypocrisy. I get annoyed by how the media tries to create images that often belie the facts.

And it's not a new phenomenon. Look back at the Chrissie/Martina era. Chris was presented as the "class act" and Martina not. Yet their behaviors contradicted that. Remember their Wimbledon '88 semi? Chris's last shot landed out. Martina saw it land clearly out, the line judge did too (and called it), but Martina looked to the chair to see if the umpire was going to confirm it, or overrule the line judge and call a let. She knew the ball was out, but out of her friendship for Chris, was willing to play an undeserved let. But look at how Chris worded it in her post-match comments. "I turned around, and there was Martina at the net." Chris implied Martina sprinted to the net immediately after the ball landed to intimidate the umpire into a favorable call, when in actuality Martina waited for several seconds for a clarification.

There are other incidents like that sprinkled throughout their careers, yet Chris, like Lindsay today, always got a free pass. (Hey, can't have the facts spoiling a carefully crafted image.) And I would pose this hypothetical to Mr. Bodo, who has probably been following the sport even longer than I have (almost 40 years): suppose Chris and Martina were due to play in a Wimbledon final. One player arrives at the lockerroom first. She sees a tabloid on the table, with a picture of her rival. Glancing at the article, she quickly sees that it's something which would greatly upset said rival. What does she do? My speculation: Martina would dispose of the paper before Chris had a chance to see it. Chris, conversely, would not only leave it, but draw Martina's attention to it if she didn't notice it herself. For Chris, gaining any type of edge in a big match was much more important than friendship. For Martina, it wouldn't be worth causing a friend any type of anguish. She'd figure if she can't win on the merits of her tennis, she doesn't deserve to. Would you agree with that assessment, Mr. B?

An aside to MarieJ: if you want to see class on the tour, look under Rubin, Chanda. (Most likely the only "props" she'll ever get here.)

Posted by steggy 12/16/2006 at 04:40 AM

Actually, B., Rubin's gotten her share of accolades here. As have many other players who are as deserving.

The rest of you: Respect a retiring, worthy player and don't take the bait.

Posted by Mark 12/16/2006 at 05:59 AM

Actually, I take B's points if they are true, and think it's important to bear that sort of thing in mind. As others have remarked, Lindsay did have a habit of taking losses personally. Dare I add that the first 'half man' comments made at the Australian open in '99 about Mauresmo were made not by Hingis, but by Davenport. Then there was that whole nastily undignified business when she and Hingis described themselves as a sort of 'tag team' out to get the williamses (actually I thought this was kind of funny, but I can see some humourless folks might object).

Overall, however, that's not much to hold against a person who's been very much in the public eye for so long (Graf was never pulledup for her extreme selfishness in that regard, because she was sort of pretty). Don't forget either that Chris Evert in fact seemed to befriend her rivals either out of pure amiability or, it seems more likely, because she knew it would be to her advantage. It was Martina who kind of broke of their friendship, when Nancy Leiberman said it was the thing blocking her progress.

Archetypal Lindsay Moment: playing Clijsters in 2001 Wimbledon, winning by lots. Hits a simple, crosscourt backhand with astonishing purity, which goes about twice as fast as any of the already very good shots she's hit. Raises arms in mock triumph. Rolls eyes.

Posted by Ruth 12/16/2006 at 09:53 AM

I knew that at least one of the older members of my "five faves" circle would retire this year, but I thought that Monica or Chanda would have been the one. I'm not sure that any of the stories that I've read about Lindsay's pregnancy include what I'd call an "official" retirement statement, but I guess that it's safe to assume that she has joined the ranks of ex-players.

I wish Lindsay well as she moves on to a new phase of her life. While reading the news stories yesterday and the comments here today, I had to smile as I remembered reading, so many years ago, about how Lindsay and Chanda showed the girls in the locker room their high school diplomas and regaled them with reports of their very normal high school senior year events, including the prom, that most of the young players had not experienced and would not experience.

Posted by marieJ 12/16/2006 at 09:55 AM

steggy, as much lindsay deserves a lot of praise for her career, and she does, but one has to admit she's no WhiteSnow either... roll eyes if you want !
i actually don't blame her if she she had sometimes a borderline behavior with sportmanship, as B. repported some very precise moments ( i.e mauresmo man like comments) she's not perfect, just like anybody...
but,i prefer to blame the commentarists or journalists for having a double standart in regards to certains players and the way they disminish or emphasis their game, their behavior or their achievements...
certain players are getting with no doubt a double standart, i think woman rivalries are more likely to carry those kind of comments... why ? it's another topic, no ?
roll eyes again !

Posted by steggy 12/16/2006 at 10:48 AM

marie: You misunderstood. I don't care if Lindsay was no saint on the courts or off (she wasn't, for the record). However, this entry isn't about the Williamses, Lisa Raymond, or any other player and what they did or didn't do, was accused of or wasn't, what they suffered through or didn't.

This entry is about Davenport and it will stay that way.

Posted by steggy 12/16/2006 at 10:48 AM

new post up..

Posted by steggy 12/16/2006 at 11:07 AM

and another new post up..

Posted by marieJ 12/16/2006 at 11:13 AM

"The rest of you: Respect a retiring, worthy player and don't take the bait."
sorry if i misunderstood this quote, i though it meaned more about the respect point of view...
no problem steggy...
roll eyes to myself ;)

Posted by mick1303 12/16/2006 at 06:04 PM

Wanted to post this in WCT thread, but it is too late.

I need an advice or maybe somebody knows the answer outright. As a hobby I keep a database with ATP and WTA results. For ATP I have complete results (all tournaments, exceeding challenger status) from 1998, I have all Slams since 68 and TMS since 1990, also I have results for the tournaments, which were the same as TMS (Rome, Monaco, Toronto) since 1978. ATP vault has all the results I need, the problem is – for old tournaments they don’t have ranking values for winners, runner-ups etc. It is easy to calculate all ratings through 90ies and today, when it is clear – what grade each tournament had.
Does anybody know – where on the web it is possible to find such grades for old tournaments, 70s, 80s? Just using google gives a whole heap of junk. ATP just shows WCT for a lot of tournaments in 70s and 80s. I’m sure they were different, but how exactly different?
With WTA it is even more of a mess. Apparently around 2000-2001 a ranking values of Tier I,II,III etc changed, because WTA site has the most early statistics, when in 2000-2001 some tournaments rewarded 200 points (New Haven, Leipzig etc) which is close to current tier II (195 points) and some tournaments rewarded 140, 155 points which is also not in line with current tier values. Pretty good site has statistics since 1996, but only shows “tier” value of the tournament. Maybe anybody knows where to find more exact data on the older (before 2002 for WTA) tournaments grades? Also, where were Tier 4A and Tier 4B during 90s. What were their correspondent ranking values?

Posted by Rosangel 12/16/2006 at 06:51 PM

You know, I think Davenport always got a bit of a hard time from the press, precisely because she was so low-key. In 1999, Lindsay had to argue with airline staff to be allowed to take her racquets on a flight to Australia. Martina Hingis did not have the same problem on he same flight, as she was reognised, unlike Lindsay.

I don't think Davenport ever minded not being the centre of attention. But she herself has admitted that her good girl image can on occasions be overstated.

One story I liked: At the 1999 Aus Open she said (of Mauresmo) "a couple of times I thought I was playing a guy". Her remark was innocent; unfortunately Hingis followed it with her infamous "half a man" comment, and the whole row was blown up by the press. Davenport told reporters, after her remark was taken out of context in discussing Mauresmo's lesbianism "You have probably hurt a very nice girl". She was upset that her comment had been taken out of context, and apologised personally to Mauresmo for what had been said, and how it had been taken by the press, and Mauresmo accepted.

I will miss having Davenport on the tour. No-one is perfect, but on balance I feel that she represented the sport well - not as a flamboyant personality, but certainly as a quiet lady who brought some competitive fire to the sport.

Posted by steggy 12/16/2006 at 08:35 PM

..someone's been reading their el-jon.

Posted by Nancy J 12/16/2006 at 10:58 PM

B wrote:

"And it's not a new phenomenon. Look back at the Chrissie/Martina era. Chris was presented as the "class act" and Martina not."

She me the evidence of giving this statement ANY value or truthworthiness????!!! Bring it on. I want to SEE this statement backed up with a way to "vet" it. If you have articles, please post links to them or post the article name, magazine, date, page. Because I WILL vet it!

Posted by Nancy J 12/16/2006 at 11:02 PM

p.s. Any statements from Nathalie Tauziat will be immediately thrown in the trash by me. She's got issues (although, I wish her book had an English edition -- even though from what I heard, some of it is highly suspect).

Posted by Nancy J 12/16/2006 at 11:14 PM

B wrote:

"Remember their Wimbledon '88 semi? Chris's last shot landed out. Martina saw it land clearly out, the line judge did too (and called it), but Martina looked to the chair to see if the umpire was going to confirm it, or overrule the line judge and call a let. She knew the ball was out, but out of her friendship for Chris, was willing to play an undeserved let."

Your memory of this 1988 Wimbledon semi final match between ChrissieE and Martina does NOT match my DVD of it. First, Martina was NOT "willing" to play a let. Second, the call was a second late (or it was not called loudly, as Chris had already walked nearly back to the baseline before she and the rest of us realized that her incredible crosscourt volley had been called no good).

In fact, Martina was prancing around in circles with her arms spread wide open demanding that the chair call, "point, game, set, match."

When Chris realized the controversy, she immediately turned around in suprised shock and gestured to the chair for him to make a ruling. He didn't respond to her about making HIS own ruling.

Then, for the first time that I'd ever seen, Chris gave up, approached the net to shake Martina's hand, but moved to her seat with0UT shaking the chair's hand.

The ball was NOT clearly out either. John Barret could only say, "well the linesman called it out..." Virginia Wade made no comment other than, "I hope a call (this close) won't effect their friendship." Clearly Wade didn't think the ball was for sure out either.

The only argument that it was out is if the ball was forced out when it grazed the netcord. Other than that, no television angle showed the shot as out. In fact, the angles that I saw on BBC, showed chalk flying.

Chris was screwed, yet she did not hollar or scream or prance. She merely waited and asked the chair for a second opinion. When he told her, "the linesperson called it out..." She lowered her head and accepted the call. Was she po'd about it -- damned right she was.

Again, her ONLY lack of sportsmanship was in shaking the chair's hand. On the other hand, why shake the hand of a man who has just severely screwed you on centre court, Wimbledon!

Hmmm...don't know if that statement came out quite right! LOL But you get my drift.

Posted by eddy 12/17/2006 at 04:03 AM

great post bodo, but
comon guys let's not be so quick to send her off
it's probable but not definite
i for one will be quietly biding my time away rooting for the top frenchwoman until Lindsay announces retirement or jumps back in.
besides, Lindsay doesn't need the pressure of people waving her off already--im not ready to let her go yet.

Posted by ice 12/17/2006 at 10:55 AM

the sun will rise from the west the day samantha says something good about roger and kim. typical JHH fan

Posted by Ruth 12/17/2006 at 03:06 PM

eddy: Until I read your post, I was beginning to think that either I had missed something in Lindsay's words or that I was the only person who'd noticed that she'd carefully avoided making her retirement official or definite. I guess that players have their reasons for hanging on long after it seems clear that they have effectively retired or that they will almost definitely retire from competition very soon. I suppose that, after many years of competition, they deserve the right to play that little game; but I do believe that the Tours should demand some knd of definitive statement when a player hasn't entered a tournament in way over a year (see Seles or Capriati) but still refuses to step aside gracefully.

Posted by Ryan 12/17/2006 at 10:01 PM

Who wastes their time not liking Lindsay Davenport? If you don't like Lindsay, who exactly on the tour DO you like?

Posted by Mariko 12/17/2006 at 10:28 PM

Ryan: JHH!!! lol.

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