Pardon My French, Says Madame Davenport
Thu May 29, 2003 09:37 AM ET
By Francois Thomazeau
PARIS (Reuters) - At 27, newly married and trying to get used to French clay after two seasons shunning Roland Garros, Lindsay Davenport is facing an identity crisis.
The American is more or less at home on Parisian red dust, the surface being the nearest thing to the sand of the Hawaiian beach on which she got married last month.
But the sixth seed still needs to polish her French a little.
Back in the only grand slam tournament she has yet to win, Davenport had to face the persistent gap of misunderstanding between the French and the Americans.
After beating Uzbek Iroda Tulyaganova, 7-5, 6-1, she went to the chair umpire with a little query.
"I was just curious, they've been calling me a few different names here. It was a question of what the appropriate title for myself is," she said.
"They've said madame, they've said mademoiselle. I was asking her, I just didn't know. She was very nice about it."
Davenport married John Leach a month ago but still insists on being called Davenport, hence the misunderstanding.
So, the big question -- should it be madame Or mademoiselle from now on?
"I don't care. Probably because I'm not with my married name, mademoiselle. I don't know if that matters or whatever," she said.
What matters most for the tall American is to improve on her best performance in Paris, reaching the semi-finals in 1999.
Even though she insists she has improved a lot on the red stuff, the 1998 U.S. Open champion, 1999 Wimbledon champion and 2000 Australian Open champion admitted claycourt tennis was another cultural oddity she would always struggle to understand.
"You know, as far as being a true claycourt mover, there's no way I'm ever going to be able to do it.
"I mean, I've tried, believe me. But I think there's no question I'm better than I was the last time I was here in 2000, and before that," she said.
Unfortunately for Davenport, Monsieur Leach would probably not be able to attend the final should Madame make it that far.
"He started working, works really, really long hours, and really hard. So I think right now there's no question he won't be able to go anywhere this year."