Newest Article on Lindsay
These is so AMAZING!!!!!!
June 17, 2002
By JANIS CARR
The Orange County Register
NEWPORT BEACH -- The French Open is over and, frankly, Lindsay Davenport isn't all that disappointed to have missed it. The slippery red clay never has been her favorite, she has not had much success in Paris and, well, what's one more missed French Open?
"It's not like it's killing me," Davenport said sometime between Kim Clijsters' second-round upset and the all-Williams final. "Not like Indian Wells or the Australian Open. Not going to the Australian Open, that was the worst because that's when I found out I needed surgery, and I knew I was going to be out awhile."
Awhile. Like six months for her surgically repaired right knee to be healed. Another month for her game to reconnect and another month, maybe two, for her confidence to be restored.
The French Open seemed a million miles away, but there are days when Davenport's comeback seems farther.
Laguna Beach resident Davenport, 25, has been missing from action since Nov. 3 when she aggravated her chronically painful knee while chasing a drop shot against Clijsters in the semifinals of the season-ending 2001 Sanex Championships in Munich, Germany. She finished the match but couldn't play the final against Serena Williams.
Since then, her days of surgery, rehabilitation and practice have been long, but not gloomy. Well, except for the eight hours a day on the leg-extension machine designed to strengthen her knee.
"I tried to sleep on it (the machine) but couldn't," she said. "I got so sick of it, I tried to break it. ... I don't think I would have done it (surgery) if I had known what I had to do from the start."
But she did it. Eight hours a day, every day for eight weeks. Then swimming, slow running, then actually hitting a tennis ball. Progress has been slow, but steady.
"I can't wait to play a match," said Davenport, looking tanned and relaxed after a recent practice at the Palisades Tennis Club. "I'm sure I will never be more nervous, not even for a Grand Slam final. I'm sure that for that first match I will be a basket case."
But when will that be? Davenport would have liked to play at Eastbourne and Wimbledon, but she decided last week to skip the grass-court events. One misstep, one slip on the famed lawns, and Davenport could suffer further damage to her knee.
So Davenport will wait until summer before returning to the WTA Tour. Her first tournament scheduled is the Bank of the West Classic starting July 22 at Stanford.
"I'm just playing it week by week," Davenport said. "If it was a hard-court tournament coming up (instead of grass) in three weeks, it might be different. But right now, I'm not so sure. I don't want to come back and play on a surface that's going to be brutal on my knee."
After defaulting in the Sanex Championships final, the former No.1 player decided she couldn't stand the persistent pain any longer and went to see a doctor. Davenport initially injured her right knee at the 2001 Ericsson Open in Miami.
Upon her return from Munich, she was told by doctors at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Westchester that the cartilage in her right knee had further worn away. She either needed surgery or rest.
"The doctors told me there wasn't a whole lot you can do to replace worn cartilage except surgery, and that takes a long time to recover from," Davenport said. "I wasn't sure about taking that much time off. I didn't want to miss the Australian (Open), so the doctor said let's see how it is in 6-8 weeks."
Davenport skipped nearly two months of tournaments and began hitting again shortly before Christmas. But as she prepared for her trip Down Under, the pain wouldn't go away.
"It was just getting worse and worse," Davenport said. "And when I went back in (to the doctor) right after the new year it had progressed even worse. That's when they told me I definitely needed surgery.
"The doctors at Kerlan-Jobe told me that if I wanted to play again I had to get it (surgery) done. It was said to me in those terms, so it wasn't really an option."
A week later, Davenport was at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail, Colo., undergoing surgery to correct a cartilage defect on her lateral tibia. Afterward, Richard Steadman, who has operated on famous knees belonging to NBA player Penny Hardaway and soccer's Ronaldo, said the prognosis "is good for a full recovery, but the recovery will require 4-6 months of rehabilitation."
Yet it was the first 10 days after surgery that were the most difficult for Davenport. That's when she first learned she would be on crutches for two months and sitting on the leg-extension machine eight hours a day for the next eight weeks.
Davenport's misery was compounded by the fact the Australian Open was under way, a tournament she won in 2000 and reached the semifinals in three other years.
"The Australian Open was on TV, and I was on crutches, on drugs and just laying there," she said. "I couldn't do anything. And I couldn't believe that I used to be like them (the other players)."
She meant running without worry, swinging a racket with confidence and playing carefree, not cautiously like the court was a land mine.
"She had to do it, have the surgery, even though she got to No.1 without the surgery," said Robert Van't Hof, Davenport's coach. "But the pain was persistent, and I think the nine months off the tour has been a good breather. I think this is going to be like a second chance for Lindsay, like having a second career."
Van't Hof said Davenport's knee is at about 80-85 percent; her baseline game a little less and her mental game even less, which is why he is pushing for her to wait until the summer hard-court season.
"Robert thinks I should wait until I'm really, really confident," Davenport said. "The diagnosis on my knee is that it's fine right now, but that doesn't mean I can't reinjure it."
And that's what Davenport is worried about. The first time she tried to chase down a drop shot, she jarred her knee. The second, third and fourth times she chased down a short ball, she ran straight into the net. No brakes.
"I didn't want to stop on the leg. That's the mental part. That's what we're trying to get over," Davenport said. "I think I need to practice this and get over my fears."
Davenport said she doesn't want to come back until she thinks she can win matches - maybe even a tournament. The worst, in her mind, would be a string of early losses.
"Almost everything I've done since the surgery has been focused on coming back," Davenport said. "During this time I have been working on eliminating some of the problems I had the last few years by getting stronger. But if I come back and lose every match, I'll think 'Oh, was that really worth it?'"
Her mind flashes back to the leg machine, and she said she will be back. Perhaps not ready to challenge the Williams sisters, but good enough to give them, and anyone else who steps up, a fight. Her knee was damaged, but her spirit is intact.
"It's funny, I didn't want to quit (for good)," Davenport said. "I've always said, 'Oh, I don't know how much longer I'm going to play.' But the second I found out I needed it (the surgery), it was like 'OK, let's do it.' In many ways I think this will make me play longer."
QUEEN LINDSAY DAVENPORT