by The Last Hollywood Star
On the morning after a rare Pirate win (2-1 versus the sub-.500 Houston Astros), I congratulate the team from breaking its 13 game road losing streak.
But today I’m writing about something more important: friendship and sportsmanship.
Serena William’s profane, racquet wielding explosion against a linesman confirmed, a thousand times over, what I noted in my blog last week, Now a Little Something About Tennis. The players, with their fist pumping, grunting and finger pointing toward heaven, are unbearably boorish.
They’re not entirely to blame. Apparently no one along their path to tennis success taught them good manners or what true sportsmanship means.
During one of the interminable rain delays, the Tennis Channel played an interview of Chris Evert by Marina Navratalova. And within that interview were dozens of lessons that today’s players should learn
For the fifteen years that their careers overlapped, Evert and Navratalova played each other 80 times with Martina holding a slight edge, 43-37.
Their intense professional rivalry remains one of the best in history. Yet throughout it all, despite their vastly different backgrounds, the two were always friends.
Evert is an all-American, conservative, Roman Catholic, straight young woman from sunny Florida. On the other hand, Navratilova is Czechoslovakian-born, liberal, loud and gay.
While Chris and Martina were talking, the Tennis Channel played clips from Evert’s historic matches against Billie Jean King.
In light of Williams’ tirade, the way Evert conducted herself was a pleasure to behold and should serve as the model for every player and in every sport.
At the end of each point, win or lose, Evert dropped her eyes to the ground and, expressionless, moved to begin the next point. No one looking at Evert could tell whether she was pleased or disgusted. (See examples here.)
And Evert had a fascinating way of challenging calls that she thought went unfairly against her. Instead of berating the linesman, Evert simply looked at the spot where the ball landed for a few extra seconds.
Evert never engaged in any histrionics or over demonstrations of emotion. But no competitor questioned her resolve.
I have one more gripe. To listen to the broadcasters gushing about Kim Clijsters’ comeback after having a baby, you would think that she was returning from a Vietnamese torture camp.
Clijsters is a 25 year old woman, a former world number one professional tennis player, who had a baby!
In preparation for the U.S. Open, Clijsters played four times a week for six hours a day with coaches and trainers evaluating her every shot.
Imagine how the insufferable trio of Mary Jo Fernandez, Mary Carillo and Pam Shriver would have carried on back in 1971 when Australian Margaret Court lost the Wimbledon singles final to Evonne Goolagong Cawley while pregnant with her first child