NEW HAVEN -- Lindsay Davenport looked positively. . .what's the word Michael Caine used in the move "Alfie?"
Mumsy! That's it. Yes. She looked positively mumsy.
She was glowing and happy and back on court Wednesday for the first time in a year, and just 10 weeks after the birth of her son, Jagger (we'll get into that name in a moment).
Davenport and Lisa Raymond, who hadn't played doubles together since San Diego in 2003, didn't win, but that's OK. She was rusty, her feet looked a little uncertain at times and she's got a few more pregnancy pounds to eliminate. But she's still Everyman's and Everywoman's tennis hero.
"I felt good. I felt excited to play. I told Lisa that if I could just get a match under my belt. . ." She broke off the sentence and restarted: "And then we get the No. 1 team in the world in the first round."
Cara Black and Liezel Huber pooped the party with a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 10-4 win -- the first time Davenport had played since last October in Beijing and her first doubles match since she and Corina Morariu were in Bali in September of 2006.
You couldn't get a seat on the Grandstand Court at the Pilot Pen tournament, which is the final warmup event to the U.S. Open. People denied entrance stacked up outside the court, trying to squint through the green windscreen behind the baseline.
At 31, Davenport is just as you remember her -- candid, gregarious and funny.
I asked her how many photos she has of Jagger in her purse, tennis bag and cellphone. "I've got one in my purse and the rest in the cell," she replied. And the number of photos is growing daily. She sends the really good ones off to her mother, who makes prints and sends them back to Lindsay and husband Jon Leach.
Jagger is right here, accompanying mom and nanny. But why is Davenport here, and so soon after her c-section delivery on June 10?
"I'm back because. . ." (short pause and slight shrug). "Because I felt like why not. I don't know if there is an exact answer," she said. "I feel I'm very good at my job and just because you have a child you don't have to abandon your career. I can still do what I love to do."
As any mother will tell you, the instant that newborn is put into your hands is electric. "I don't know if I can explain it, but the nurse took some great pictures. You look at the pictures and you can see how happy I was. It's a moment you never forget, and I'll remember it vividly after all the drugs they gave me."
Why Jagger? It has nothing to do with any Rolling Stones. "Hopefully, he'll be able to handle it," said Davenport, thinking ahead to the little guy's days at school -- assuming anyone by that time remembers Mick Jagger.
This tentative first step in doubles is just the start. The Davenport plan is to play two singles events this fall, after the Open, then map out a more or less regular schedule for 2008, including all Grand Slams except the hated French Open.
Can she get back to top-10 or even top-20. "Once she gets her feet under her, she's a contender for a Grand Slam," said Raymond, perhaps a bit too optimistically.
I'm not so sure. Lindsay's body is feeling great right now after a year away from the tennis wars, but playing a more or less full schedule next season will start the wear-down process again.
Still, who knows? Maybe it will all come together for her. For now, however, can't we just agree that it's great to just have her back out there, and let it go at that.