What went on in the ESPN booth after the infamous 2006 AO final - TennisForum.com
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What went on in the ESPN booth after the infamous 2006 AO final

After Justine of America retires from the AO final, in the booth with Dick Enberg, Mary Carillo, Ted Robinson, John McEnroe, Pat McEnroe, and Mary Jo Fernandez.

Mary: Have you ever seen such courage, to come out on the court and endanger her body, perhaps risking her health forever, and give the fans all she could give for as long as she possibly could?

Dick: No, I haven't. Oh, my.

Mary: I think she gets it from losing her mother so young. Do you know the story about when her mother took her to the French Open? The day was warm, a bright Saturday morning just like many American summer mornings. Yet this day would stand out, for this day a mother would book a flight and take her small daughter to see the French Open, and days later, while she was watching these figures which were heroic to her through her bright adoring eyes, in a moment of epiphany, this young yet fiercely competitive, loyal, and loving child blurted out what has since become a hallmark of American tennis, said, "Mother, one day I'm going to win the French Open!" Can you imagine that, Dick?

Dick: It was something special. Oh, my!

Ted: John, do you think Steffi Graf was a good tennis player?

John: Ted, you cannot be serious. Ha Ha Ha.

Mary Jo: She was streaky

Mary: This reminds me of a quote from Tennyson which is a favorite of mine. "Pretend that you are a member of Congress. Now pretend that you are an idiot. But I repeat myself"

John: That was Mark Twain, Mary, and that quote has nothing to do with this scenario.

Dick: Wasn't he a great guy? Oh, My!

Pat: This is sick!

Ted: John, do you think Rod Laver was a good tennis player?

Mary: I don't think we'll ever see a player like Justine again. As I was saying, the flight landed in Paris, and this little girl looked around and for some reason she felt she had found a second home. I interviewed her for 40 hours and if we have time I'll tell that part of her story.

Dick: I'm sure it's very special. Oh, my.

Ted: Do you realize Roger Federer said he wants to win Wimbledon?

John: You know, some players might be a bit critical of Justine's decision to retire-----

Mary: Some players are cruel, and think only of themselves. I hate to say it, but those Russians would probably feel a sense of satisfaction if Justine had permanently injured herself; or if she has already. I'm not saying they would do it intentionally, but there is a fierce competitiveness among the Russians and Belgians which we don't see tempered by gentle good humor such as Justine displays. They are too competitive, in my view. This young American woman transcended courage and all expectations just by showing up and attempting to compete. She shouldn't be here. Look at her. Yet she's going to say for the awards presentation, when she should probably be in a hospital. This says it all about this wonderful athlete!

Dick, nodding: It's a shame.

Pat: This is sick!

Mary: How could anyone possibly question Justine of America's willingness to give everything and lay it all on the court! She had to be hospitalized after the US Open semi-final! Give me a break! And yet she beat an admittedly overmatched Belgian in a display of dazzling tennis such as we may never have seen before. It was Federer-like. It was sublime. It was poetry.

Dick, nodding: I've never seen anything like it. Oh, my; what a day that was!

John: That was a night match, Dick.

Ted: John, do you think Pete Sampras was a good grass court player?

Mary Jo: He was streaky.

Dick: Let's look back at Justine's grand slam triumphs since the match is over. We have 60 hours of them here.

Mary: As I was saying, the young Justine of America rode in a cab, and suddenly it turned a corner and she saw Roland Garros for the first time. As summer follows spring, the spring of Justine's life that year would flower into her fervent desire to win the French Open; not knowing that she'd lose that mother before she could make her dream come true. It was truly a marvelous and lovely moment, and so special because it's a true story, and one which has already become one of the most special in tennis history, and deservedly so.

Dick: It was such a special moment. Oh, my.

Mary: She's been tested on all the surfaces, and had to endure what many have labeled pure bad sportsmanship, such as when Serena Willislova tried to serve at her when she had her hand up at her breakthrough grand slam. Not only that, but when she missed the serve she actually wanted another serve! For crying out loud, , what game was Serena trying to play?" Ha Ha Ha. This isn't baseball, where you get three strikes! It was such an obvious example of gamesmanship that the French crowd really came down on her, and they are so very knowledgeable. Her contentions were unbelievable!. On the one hand, she was claiming she was entitled to another first serve, since Justine was trying to put her hand up; and on the other hand, if she saw her hand up, why did she serve to her? She's never explained that satisfactorily. I think we have a video of that. Can we show that in a few minutes like we show it at most slams?

Pat: That was sick!

Mary Jo: Willislova was streaky that day.

Ted: Is the French Open one of the slams?

Mary: Do you remember that US Open semi-final Justine won in what may have been one of the greatest tennis matches ever played, and perhaps not surprisingly between two Americans, and how she played when she was doubling over with cramps again and again, yet this paragon of sportsmanship refused even the trainer? Have you ever seen anything remotely like that?

Dick: I remember the last game so well, Mary. Caprioni was down triple break point at 30-40.

Ted: Do you realize Roger Federer said he wants to win the Australian Open?

John: Perhaps that's why he's in the finals tomorrow, Ted.

Mary Jo: He's streaky.

Pat: Hello!

Dick: I forget the guy's name Roger played yesterday,, but in the semi-finals his opponent was serving to Federer's backhand, and it was working! Baghdatis will do that!

Mary Jo: He can be a streaky player, though.

Mary: Justine's US Open night of wondrous triumph was as sublime a two sets of tennis as I've ever seen, from a man or a woman. Here was a young dehydrated woman who was quietly and humbly staking her claim to immortal tennis stature in every respect; and who didn't get to bed till after 3 AM after requiring intravenous fluids to restore her health even moderately. But there she was that night, and put on a display of tennis which I don't think any of us will ever forget!

"Dick, nodding: It was so special, Mary!"

Mary: Kim Clijsters was the opponent---- or should I say victim? Ha Ha.Ha..

Pat: It was insane!

Mary: Kim Clijsters said she wasn't at her best and was injured that night, but she often says that, just as she did in this year's event. When she was in juniors she was known for that. The Belgian and Russian coaches encourage that, and it's an issue in the locker room. I question the ethics of that; but I'm from the old school----not that I'm that old. Ha Ha Ha.

Mary Jo: She's streaky.

Dick: And it was that trademark backhand on championship point which said it all!

John: She took the ball out of the air with a forehand, Dick.

Mary: She hardly dropped a game that wondrous American night!

Pat: Dropper!!

Mary:. You can only watch and marvel at this incredible young woman who has overcome so much in her young life, and tonight who is forced to retire against an opponent we all know she would have beaten easily if she had been able to play her game. Mauresmo had a walkover in the semis and now she has another one. Some people will still question her ability to win a slam on her own merit, and I think it's a legitimate question. In my heart, Justine won this tournament, and she won it with her heart, even when her body failed her so terribly; just by dragging herself off that floor and drying those tears of pain so she could do her best to try desperately to give us tennis which she obviously wasn't able to give. Have you ever seen such a beautiful shot the way she hits her backhand? Her body is a ballet on a tennis court. She's truly more than a tennis player. She's an artist. A Picasso. She's the artist and also the art. It's sublime. I don't have words to describe it. I'm only a human, and moments like that transcend vocabulary and human speech.

John: The day you run out of words is the day of Armageddon.

John: While we're at it, why don't we take time to acknowledge one of the true great ongoing stories in tennis, Roger's 20 match slam winning streak.

Mary Jo: He can be very streaky.

Pat: 20 straight slam wins! Get outa' here! Hello! It's sick what he's doing! It's insane!

Dick: It's so profound. Oh.........my!
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