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post #1 of 49 (permalink) Old Mar 25th, 2005, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Great article: Amélie Mauresmo talks about her coming out story and more...

Passion player rises above the prejudice
By Sue Mott

Amelie Mauresmo, the first Frenchwoman ever to become world No 1 (five weeks last year), is yet to match her country's aspirations with a Grand Slam title. Preferably, the French Grand Slam title.

They love her. She is as French as baguettes, unlike Mary Pierce (latterly French, previously Canadian and partially American) who won at Roland Garros five years ago. Mauresmo is all Gaul, a statuesque figure, mocked and derided in her teens, who found the courage to acknowledge to the world that she was a lesbian and went on to practise the subtle arts of her tennis whatever the condemnation. There was none. Her country admired her openness. Women's tennis thanked God for her frankness. There was no scandal, no controversy, no cover-up, just a woman coming to terms with herself and a decent backhand.

It was frightening at the beginning," she said. "I didn't understand. All the attention. I couldn't understand how people could be so rude, but then I grew up, got some maturity. Maybe the players felt threatened by me, but that was six years ago now. To me, it seems like another life. I've done so many things, achieved so much since. I have really found myself as a woman, as a tennis player, in my head."
The rudeness to which she alluded fell heedlessly from the lips of her fellow tennis players, amazed by the sight of the quietly spoken French 19-year-old, as she was then, reaching the final of the Australian Open with a set of fully grown shoulders and a highly muscular physique. Lindsay Davenport, who lost to her in the semi-final, said, with a terrible tang of sour grapes: "She played like a man."

Martina Hingis, who beat her in the final, called her "half a man". These were flame-throwing insults that would have embittered and broken lesser characters.

Mauresmo is neither of the above. She is, remarkably in the upper echelons of women's tennis, punctual, unfussy, apparently not of a royal bloodline and, above all, pleasantly mild-mannered. There is not a mean bone in her. Marvellous for friendships. Almost fatal for sport.

"Some players need to hate their opponents. Others need to be indifferent. Indifferent, yes?" she asked, testing the adequacy of her intelligent English. "I do not need to hate my opponent. That's not how I have been raised. Maybe sometimes I am not mean enough. Maybe I should be a little more angry. But you cannot change yourself like this." She clicked her fingers.

Mauresmo has a fine record of not changing herself at whim. She has clung to a different line throughout her life when a lie might have been easier, at least superficially. "When I came out, it was tough. I wasn't ready for it, I didn't understand. Probably my parents didn't appreciate it, even though they knew what my life was. I had known for a while. I had been asking myself some questions. The knowledge just happened. But society prepares you to grow up one way and that's why you ask yourself the questions. You are not sure if you are normal."

She was certainly unprepared for the initial interest and was possibly encouraged into her revelations by her girlfriend at the time, who owned a bar in St Tropez and seemed to revel in the attention. Compare that hopelessly unprotected girl with the woman of 25 who drove to Antwerp on Monday in her smoke-grey Porsche with the serious intention of winning the Diamond Games Indoor Tournament and you see the distinct alteration.

"I am emotional still, but I am trying to deal with it in a better way. Sometimes it's a problem, but sometimes also it is a great feeling, one of joy, happiness, adrenalin. Imagine if your whole life was just nothing." She drew a flat line across the air in front of her and looked disgusted at the mere thought of emulating Bjorn Borg's expressionism. "I have always been very emotional and very attracted to emotional things."

Perhaps Mauresmo is tennis's Edith Piaf. It may explain the mutual affection between herself and her French audience. They love her complications. "They see me as an honest person with some strong positioning on the subjects I care about. They see me as a passionate person. They recognise themselves in the struggles I have, perhaps. I try to share things with people."

In which case, the French are suffering the same theatrical campaigns in which the Brits excel. She has been No 1 in the world, true, but she has also lost, sometimes catastrophically in the cauldron of Roland Garros. She reached the semi-final at Wimbledon last year, slicing and sweeping backhands at a discomforted Serena Williams, but not sufficiently armoured in self-belief to deliver the coup de grâce. She yearned to win an Olympic gold medal in Athens, but came away with the silver instead.

She lives alongside the reputation for arch-vulnerability in a crisis. Where is that Grand Slam title? "It will come," she said simply. "I think everyone has their own speed. I take a little more time to get my maturity than the Williams sisters or the Belgians. It's the way I am. I'm happy with that.

"It is great being popular in France. At the beginning I had some trouble with it. How to behave? But now I have found my spot in French society and I'm happy about that. People like me for what I do, for what I represent and that is very good."

Her smile reaches all the way up to her green eyes. She has consulted a sports psychologist in an attempt to cure her nervous responses to pressure, but she is clearly not an apologist for herself. She has nothing to apologise for.

Her shape? She was born with it. Into a comfortable middle-class family near Paris who had no alignment to tennis whatsoever. Aged four, little Amelie simply settled down to watch Yannick Noah win the French Open with her mother Françoise and thought: I would like to do that too. She left her parents at 11 to be schooled in tennis by the French Federation. She became conspicuously good. She was the World No 1 Junior. She won the French and Wimbledon Junior titles in 1996. "I had certain physical abilities and technical abilities. I was lucky. I grew tall. I got my build from my father's side of the family. They were all pretty tall and athletic."

As for her lifestyle, it marks her out as a woman imbued with courage and frankness. "Nobody cares about it now. They've stopped making an issue of it. I think people see the tennis player. I was once very public about my private life. Now I want to preserve - can you say that? Preserve? - my privacy. I want to live it in a quiet way. Whether I bring my girlfriend to Wimbledon, I don't know yet. I'll see. I want to protect her. But I think they wouldn't know. I don't worry about it too much. It's OK. I've been in much tougher situations."

She does not court the media, but she does not repel them either. A push me - pull you, Posh and Becks situation has no allure whatsoever. "All the eyes on them," she said in horrified wonderment. "What they do, how they dress, the new jewel. I could not be like that. I give a lot to the media but I also have my private side."

Then she has her outspoken side. She did not disguise her disapproval of the war in Iraq when she was touring, of all places, the US last year. "For a British paper this is maybe a sensitive issue?" she courteously enquired. "But I have to say I am proud that our President had this position of not going to Iraq. People asked me and I said I was against these things. I understand that sometimes you want to dominate and fight, but I'm not sure that's the answer."

Her mind ranges well beyond the usual confines of tennis courts and airport lounges. Tennis players are apt to be self-absorbed. "We are, we are," she agreed, demonstrating a set of limiting blinkers before her eyes. "But I try to be interested beyond tennis. We are in a little world but these are big issues. It's not hard to be aware of what's going on. It's scary sometimes."

The French Federation Cup Team, of which she is one, discuss such things over dinner, typical sophisticates that they are. "We are close. Very solid. We like to go to a restaurant and talk together. The Russians too, are close - but in a bigger restaurant."

She smiled at her gentle joke, acknowledging the march of the Russians in number and quality into the top berths on the women's tour. And the British? We contemplated Elena Baltacha at a table for one. "Not yet," she said kindly.

Simplistically, you imagine that Mauresmo will have to rid herself of these kindness outbreaks if she is to threaten the East-West power bloc at the top of women's tennis, represented by Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. Both are murderous. Assassins. Intimidators. Predators.

"We don't see them very often. They just say, `Hi, how are you'. That's where our relationship ends. That's OK. I'm fine with that. They live their life and I live mine. That's not hard feelings or anything. Before, the women's tour had an image of a lot of jealously, rivalry, bitchiness. But, to me, that is not the case at all. We live in our different worlds, we have different people around us, that's all. It's not insulting to anybody."

Mauresmo will turn 26 at Wimbledon this year. Not too late to win a major title. In the meantime, the void has its little compensations. She has her own waxwork in the Grevin Museum in Paris and her own wine cellar at home in Geneva. She has her Harley Davidson motorbike, which, with typical modesty, she drives with restraint in the summer and not at all like a maniac around Swiss hairpin bends. She is all benevolence and sense. Perhaps that is why some commentators, perhaps even she herself, cannot quite picture the ultimate prizes falling into her hands. It is all very well having a beautiful game, a beautiful mind is no use at all.

But, Henmaniacs understand the concept of hope. So do Parisians now. And then there is Mauresmo's own contentment.

"I love this sport," she said. "The game of tennis. I love the fact that a lot of people around the world come to watch and share the emotions of the players. They give us a lot of positive things. I am lucky to live my passion and have money and freedom."

There are worse ways to chase fulfilment.

But I, being poor, have only my dreams
I have spread my dreams under your feet
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams
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post #2 of 49 (permalink) Old Mar 25th, 2005, 08:43 PM Thread Starter
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The 'played like a man' reference is a bad mistake in an otherwise lively read: In her next interview, Davenport stressed that it had been a compliment on Mauresmo's game, and slammed the press for their handling of the story

The full quote was: "She's a very, very strong girl. A couple of times I thought I was playing a guy, the girl was hitting it so hard. She's so strong in those shoulders. She hits the ball, y'know, not like any other girl. She hits it so hard and with so much topspin. Women's tennis is not usually played like that."

Thinking back, this observation was a victim of circumstance and timing: Lina Krasnoroutskaya made a similar remark about Mauresmo and Justine Henin's games a couple of years ago, without exciting much comment...

Mauresmo criticized Hingis, but let Davenport off with: "She wrote me a note -- I appreciated that. It was important to me. I think Davenport is a nice person... I was surprised by her comments because she is stronger than I am, hits the ball harder and is a fair size herself."

But I, being poor, have only my dreams
I have spread my dreams under your feet
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

Last edited by spiceboy; Mar 25th, 2005 at 09:13 PM.
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post #3 of 49 (permalink) Old Mar 25th, 2005, 08:59 PM
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Amelie has manly features especially her jaw is very man like.
I wonder how many players are lesbians but afraid to come out?
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post #4 of 49 (permalink) Old Mar 25th, 2005, 09:39 PM
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****YAWWWWWWWWNNNNNNNNNNN****

Why do straight people find this "coming out" thing so fascinating?

I've done it, lots of people on this board have done it. But once you've done it, in my humble experience, you don't think about it ever again. You can tell your story to those interested a number of times, but eventually it gets annoying. It's just a part of life that some people have to go through and not all.

And there's many hard aspects of life that I, as a gay man, haven't had to go through - thankfully. "Coming out" is just one of an innumerable amount of difficult life experiences in the wider picture.

So why does this boring rubbish get dredged up over and over again?
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post #5 of 49 (permalink) Old Mar 25th, 2005, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Steffica Greles
Why do straight people find this "coming out" thing so fascinating?
LOL who's that 'straight people'?

I find really interesting how a top athlete deals openly with her sexuality and since this is pretty rare to find I just posted it.

Nothing wrong about that, you don't have to read it if you don't want to but some other people might be interested

But I, being poor, have only my dreams
I have spread my dreams under your feet
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams
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post #6 of 49 (permalink) Old Mar 25th, 2005, 10:05 PM
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That's a great article. Mauresmo is such a nice person, I hope she wins a slam soon. She deserves, she has such a beautiful game! I can't believe Hingis' comment. Well, she does look like a sore bitch, but.... hmm. Ok, Amelie has manly futures but she can look so nice! ;P



Justine Henin


Proud member of Justine's Philistines Society™
"There's a bit of Justine in all of us"
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post #7 of 49 (permalink) Old Mar 25th, 2005, 10:11 PM
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nice article.
I'm really convinced that amélie is the most intelligent of the topplayers.

J u s t i n e x p l i c a b l e


Justine: feb. 5, 2007:

"I hung on to tennis. I have done so for the past 20 years. It is something that is in me, it is me."
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post #8 of 49 (permalink) Old Mar 25th, 2005, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucashg
That's a great article. Mauresmo is such a nice person, I hope she wins a slam soon. She deserves, she has such a beautiful game! I can't believe Hingis' comment. Well, she does look like a sore bitch, but.... hmm. Ok, Amelie has manly futures but she can look so nice! ;P

Actually, I met Amelie in person and can say that she is quite beautiful. Not just in the physical sense, but her personality is so inviting, so genuine. She is so kind and sincere, I cannot speak highly enough about her. It's so nice to see such a modest, generous player as herself on tour. There's not an ounce of arrogance in her. She plays her game to the best of her ability and lets her tennis speak for her, without the need to boast or display any cockiness. I find that highly admirable!
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post #9 of 49 (permalink) Old Mar 25th, 2005, 10:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JPrince
Actually, I met Amelie in person and can say that she is quite beautiful. Not just in the physical sense, but her personality is so inviting, so genuine. She is so kind and sincere, I cannot speak highly enough about her. It's so nice to see such a modest, generous player as herself on tour. There's not an ounce of arrogance in her. She plays her game to the best of her ability and lets her tennis speak for her, without the need to boast or display any cockiness. I find that highly admirable!

+1000000!!!!!!!!!!!lol!

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Actual Gourou of the "New French Armada"

my blog about french tennis future with the young french guns cominghttp://sheenatennis.canalblog.com/
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post #10 of 49 (permalink) Old Mar 26th, 2005, 01:06 PM
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Steffica Greles, I'm a lesbian firmly lodged in the closet, and I can tell you I find "this coming out thing" fairly interesting! Maybe it was easy, boring, and matter-of-fact for you. It's not for everyone. Some people, like Amélie, have judgmental, homophobic parents and have it all going on in the public eye. Some people, such as myself, are surrounded by organised religion that claims to accept and love us while saying lovely, Christian, understanding things such as "love the sinner, hate the sin." Ummm, sure.

Anyway, this is a great article (it's not just about coming out either) and it's nice to read about a player who can form complete sentences and doesn't brag about herself every second sentence. Thank you for posting it, spiceboy.

Well, I walk into the room
Passing out hundred dollar bills
And it kills and it thrills like the horns on my Silverado grill
And I buy the bar a double round of crown
And everybody's getting down
And this town ain't never gonna be the same.
Cause I saddle up my horse and I ride into the city
I make a lot of noise
Cause the girls, they are so pretty...

All
ez Amélie!

"My coach told me I had to expect, you know, some long rallies and stuff. So, you know, I was ready for this."
--Amelie Mauresmo breaking down the intricate nature of Team Mauresmo coaching strategies.
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post #11 of 49 (permalink) Old Mar 26th, 2005, 01:21 PM
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Wish Momo good luck in the Future
At least one slam

KIM CLIJSTERS :Rightful and Deservingly World Number 1, Get used to seeing her on the Top
WINNER OF THE SERENA SLAM!
Lena D and Dinara Safina!
Ageless Mary Keep on kicking Ass
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post #12 of 49 (permalink) Old Mar 26th, 2005, 01:31 PM
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Spicey....... old article but a good one
I posted this around 6 weeks ago

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post #13 of 49 (permalink) Old Mar 26th, 2005, 01:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mariangelina
it's nice to read about a player who can form complete sentences and doesn't brag about herself every second
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post #14 of 49 (permalink) Old Mar 26th, 2005, 01:45 PM
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This article is good, it's like that I see her. She's a nice and very human person, that's why she's often too sensible. And yes, she is complex.
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post #15 of 49 (permalink) Old Mar 26th, 2005, 01:48 PM
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Several points that must be addressed, as long as this old story continues to come up six years later.

The article does NOT reference the fact that Mauresmo and her girlfriend were seen necking at numerous locations around the grounds at the '99 Australian Open, including at least once in the women's locker room.

THAT is apparently what several players (not Hingis) objected to, going to WTA officials to complain. Before the tournament was over, WTA officials had counseled Mauresmo to tone down the public displays of affection.

While you might make a case that they had the right to neck in other parts of the venue, the women's locker room should have been strictly out of bounds. That is obviously a place where women change clothes and shower and overt acts of sexuality there seem very out of place. Could straight women bring their boyfriends in and neck with them in the women's locker room? Nobody would suggest that such a thing would be proper.

Kissing in public seems to be a badge of honor for lesbians. Whether it should or should not be is not my business. But the tennis venue is the players' workplace and just as it is not consider appropriate for a couple to neck in the office, it is not appropriate for high visibility players to neck in public at a tennis event.

Lastly, and this will perhaps spark controvery, the fact that the '99 Australian Open story is retold again and again and again by tennis journalists --now six years after the fact --- is an indication in my mind of how little Mauresmo has accomplished in tennis.

She has never gotten back to a slam final in all that time, never won a really big tournament, such as Miami, Indian Wells or the year end championships. She got to number one for a brief period, and for that she gets credit, but that is her only real achievement.

Maybe, had she done a little more with her career in the past six years, journalists would find something to write about besides her politically correct status as a lesbian.
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