Re: what was linsday like in her early days?
Davenport was alway recognised for her phenomenal groundstrokes.
I remember when I was 12, following Sabatini in the 3rd round against Meredith McGrath at Wimbledon 1994. Davenport was to be her next opponent. There were already whispers about the then 18 year-old Californian. Sabatini was in a decline, continually being accused of not playing with the necessary aggression. Asked by Sue Barker who was going to win their 4th round encounter, Pam Shriver said that if Sabatini didn't get her act together, there was not a cat in hell's chance that she was going to withstand the devastating power of Davenport.
Davenport won that encounter in straight sets, something like 6-3 6-1. Pam was right.
At the quarter-final stage of Wimbledon 1994, people were talking about Davenport as an outside chance for the title. She lost in 3 close sets to Martinez, who was of course the eventual titlist.
By the end of the year she was no.6 in the world, at only 18. It was in 1995, however, that she slipped back. More players worked out how to expose her poor movement and she lost confidence. It was not until 1996 that she gradually started to be noticed again.
Her groundstrokes were always clean, with very little sound, perfectly timed and tremendously deep. From c1998 I have no doubt that she also added a little power, but they were always regarded as among the most destructive by her opponents.
Seles first played DAvenport in Sydney, 1996, and remarked that Davenport had some of the hardest and heaviest groundstrokes, as well as some of the best all-round talent, in women's tennis. Or something like that.
So Davenport was always rated as a prospect. She just preferred to make baby steps.