Oudin Signed Deal Before US Open Loss
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: September 10, 2009
Filed at 7:03 p.m. ET
NEW YORK (AP) -- So here is what 17-year-old Melanie Oudin of Marietta, Ga., was doing about 20 minutes before heading out to play in the first Grand Slam quarterfinal of her nascent career: affixing her signature to an endorsement contract.
Welcome to the big time, Mel.
Oudin insisted Thursday that bit of business didn't affect her play in any way during a 6-2, 6-2 loss to Caroline Wozniacki the night before.
''I knew I was going to. It wasn't a big deal. My coach was, like, 'Just go ahead and do it now.' All I did was sign a piece of paper,'' Oudin said.
Speaking generally about the off-court demands on her time, Oudin said: ''It's kind of hard if you don't how to separate the two. But for me, when I play on the court, I don't really think about anything but the ball and my opponent and me.''
According to SportsBusiness Journal, the multiyear deal with a data-mining firm is believed to be for a six-figure sum guaranteed annually, plus performance bonuses.
Oudin was back at the tournament grounds Thursday, hanging out in the players' lounge and showing zero signs of being down about the way her surprising run finished.
Sure, Oudin cried tears of sadness right after being beaten, but that stopped after she met her coach, Brian de Villiers, outside the locker room. He reminded her what a joy the past 1 1/2 weeks were.
''He's like, 'No tears.' And, 'You should be so proud of yourself. You did an unbelievable job. I'm really proud of you.' There's nothing that I should be disappointed about here because I gave it my all, and that's, like, the best I could do,'' she said.
Oudin was not planning on picking up a racket Thursday.
She needs some time off.
''I'm exhausted, like, from everything,'' she said. ''It was a really long two weeks for me.''
Still, there is more heady stuff ahead.
Oudin plans on buying a Rolex watch with some of her $175,000 in prize money for reaching the U.S. Open quarterfinals. Might spend some of that on a new outfit or two for her appearances Monday on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show and the ''Tonight Show.''
Oudin Finds Success at U.S. Open Brings Scrutiny Also
By CHRISTOPHER CLAREY
Published: September 11, 2009
The day after her first night match at this United States Open, Melanie Oudin was up by 6 a.m., appearing on two morning television programs and completing plans for a quick trip to California to tape “The Tonight Show” and the Ellen DeGeneres show.
But the joyride on court ended Wednesday for Oudin, the plucky 17-year-old with “Believe” written on her sneakers, as she played her least focused, least convincing match of the Open and was beaten, 6-2, 6-2, by 19-year-old Caroline Wozniacki.
Oudin’s string of comebacks and upsets this summer at Wimbledon and the Open have made her a celebrity and propelled her into the top 50 in the rankings. But her sudden professional success has also brought increased scrutiny, and the feel-good tale of the relatively short and very determined youngster’s rise from a club in suburban Atlanta to big victories in Arthur Ashe Stadium apparently is a complex one.
On the same night that Oudin lost at the Open, SI.com reported that her father, John Oudin, filed for divorce from her mother, Leslie Oudin, on July 24, 2008, and has since claimed in court documents that one of the reasons for his filing was that Leslie Oudin had an affair with Brian de Villiers, Melanie Oudin’s longtime coach.
According to SI.com, Leslie Oudin denied accusations of adultery in her initial response to the complaint, dated Aug. 12, 2008. Leslie Oudin declined to comment Wednesday after her daughter’s match. De Villiers said Thursday that the family’s problems did not have an impact on the way Melanie Oudin played here. He also said she was unaware that the accusations were about to become public when she took to the court.
“Obviously it was a calculated plan,” said de Villiers, suggesting that someone might have leaked the story in an attempt to destabilize Oudin during the Open. “The allegations are over two years old. It had absolutely nothing to do with what happened last night, the way Melanie played. We dealt with this situation ages ago, so it wasn’t anything new.”
Oudin was not asked to respond to the SI.com report. “When I play on the court, I don’t think about anything but the ball or me,” she said Thursday, attributing her muted performance to Wozniacki’s consistency and her own weariness.
“A lot of the media and stuff, you don’t realize how much more it is than just playing tennis,” she said, explaining that she was “exhausted.”
According to SI.com, John Oudin claimed in a sworn statement on Aug. 10 of this year that both Leslie Oudin and de Villiers admitted their affair when he confronted them separately. In his sworn statement, John Oudin also maintained, according to SI.com, that Melanie Oudin had suspicions of the affair and had alerted her father.
De Villiers rejected both those accusations. “That’s a lie, that he asked me directly and that Melanie had suspicions, because there’s nothing to have suspicions about,” de Villiers said. “I don’t want to say too much, except that. A lot of it is not true. I’ll let my lawyer take care of it.”
Leslie Oudin was in New York for all of Oudin’s matches at the Open, while John Oudin, a senior account executive at salesforce.com, traveled back and forth from Georgia with the Oudins’ other two daughters. John Oudin was sitting in the players’ box on Monday for Oudin’s victory over Nadia Petrova and talked proudly afterward of Melanie’s mental strength and French roots, but he was not in the box for the match against Wozniacki and could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Lawyers in the divorce case, which is ongoing, did not respond to phone messages. The court records at Cobb County Superior Court in Georgia were sealed this week by the presiding judge, an unusual move for a divorce proceeding in Georgia.
De Villiers, who has been coaching Oudin since she was 9, said that the details of the divorce case becoming public had been personally difficult in an otherwise joyful time. “Of course it is,” he said. “I can take care of myself. I just don’t understand why people would want to involve somebody who is innocent. All the daughters. Why do they have to deal with this?”
SI.com reported that, in a temporary court order dated Dec. 16, 2008, John and Leslie Oudin had agreed that Leslie would interact with de Villiers only in matters that specifically related to their children’s tennis activities and that Leslie would not travel with de Villiers to any tournaments in which their children were participating.
De Villiers confirmed that he stepped away from coaching Oudin earlier this year, delegating much of the responsibility to his business partner Grant Stafford, a former touring professional.
Asked if that was because of the family problems, de Villiers answered, “Right.”
But de Villiers said he stood by what he said earlier in the tournament about the Oudins’ lack of interference in his work being critical to Melanie’s success. “I did the scheduling, and they never interfered with the on-court coaching or the vision I had for Melanie,” he said. “I never had pressure on me to get results.”
De Villiers said he resumed traveling with Oudin and serving as her primary coach in the spring, which was when her results improved dramatically. He was with her for Wimbledon and the Open, where Oudin was consistently complimentary of de Villiers, saying he was “like another dad to me” and that “we’ve been through a lot together.”
The two met for breakfast Thursday. “At the end of the day, she just wants to play tennis,” he said. “She didn’t even know how much money she won.”
Pressed, Oudin guessed she had won $70,000. The actual total for reaching the quarterfinals was $175,000. “She had absolutely no clue,” de Villiers said.