New Lindsay article
From the Boston Globe:
All work, no play
By Sharon Ginn, Globe Correspondent, 8/14/2002
If she were a tennis diva, if Lindsay Davenport cared a whit about whether she was asked to sign another autograph or do another interview, this would be the perfect opportunity for a tantrum or some chest-beating or, at the very least, some sarcastic retorts.
Because really, it hardly seems fair. How could someone be No. 1 in the world and then, just eight months later, be more or less forgotten? Or worse, how could it be that Davenport missed three Grand Slam events with a knee injury that required complicated surgery, and tennis fans barely noticed she was gone?
It just happened that during the 26-year-old Davenport's longest absence from the game, Venus and Serena Williams took over the sport as their father always had threatened. Little else mattered.
Jennifer Capriati got some press for winning the Australian Open again and, later, for her tiff with US captain Billie Jean King during the Federation Cup. Martina Hingis's supposed career-threatening ankle injury made headlines for a day or two. Davenport's absence was usually addressed in one-line announcements, then forgotten.
But this was fine with Davenport. The Laguna Beach, Calif., resident did not spend the time off stewing in self-doubt, but reveling in the absence of reporters' phone calls. She simply had her surgery, followed doctors' orders, and celebrated each milestone as she carefully plodded toward a full-as-possible recovery.
''The day I got rid of my crutches,'' Davenport said last week, ''was so exciting. I was able to appreciate everything more - just walking down the street.''
Presumably, there were no paparazzi present to record the moment. No matter. While Davenport's low-key, straightforward personality doesn't play well on the gossip circuit, she's having a truly storybook comeback.
After a warm-up with World TeamTennis and two Fed Cup matches in July, she returned to the WTA Tour three weeks ago and made it clear she is still a force with whom the Williamses must reckon. Looking sleeker and fitter than ever and showing no sign of injury, the 6-foot-3-inch Davenport reached the semifinals at Stanford and at San Diego, then last week made it to the finals at Los Angeles. There she lost a three-set marathon to 15th-ranked Chanda Rubin, who was coming off upsets of No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 5 Jelena Dokic.
Next week's Pilot Pen tournament in New Haven is the last warmup for the US Open, which starts Aug. 26. Davenport has improvements to make; against Rubin she double-faulted 11 times and struggled uncharacteristically with her return game. She said she isn't yet used to the rhythm of a long match, but she is playing far better than anyone, especially herself, expected.
''It's fun to be out on the court right now,'' she said. ''It was a long recovery. I wasn't really sure at what level I would be able to come back. I thought, `Oh, God, I hope I'm not terrible now.'''
But Davenport said those thoughts crept in only a few weeks ago. The rest of the recovery time was spent plotting her return.
That is typical Davenport. You won't hear her crow about her work ethic, but it is what molded her into one of the world's best players, winning 37 singles titles, including three Grand Slam events and the 1996 Olympic gold medal. Though she missed two months last spring with a bone bruise in her right knee, Davenport's consistency allowed her to edge Capriati by 10 points for the year-end No. 1 ranking, the closest finish in 21 years and Davenport's first season-ending top ranking since 1998.
But the knee problems worsened as she continued to play. Bones rubbing together had caused the initial injury; by November, she had no cartilage where the knee met the tibia. On Jan. 10, she had a surgical procedure called microfracture, designed to regenerate cartilage. Small holes were drilled into her bones, allowing marrow to seep out and create a large clot to aid in the growth of new cartilage.
For the procedure to work, Davenport had to stay on crutches for almost nine weeks and spend eight hours a day in her bedroom strapped to a machine that moved the leg for her. Pool workouts provided some relief from boredom, but it wasn't until she could walk again, then jog, then finally begin hitting balls in May, that she began to feel somewhat normal.
''I was never in a lot of pain, just a lot of frustration with the crutches,'' she said. ''Getting up and down stairs, getting in and out of cars, you have to rely on everyone for a lot of help. It did teach me a lot of patience. I hope.''
Along the way, she lost her No. 1 ranking. And though it happened just four days after her surgery, she won't admit to feeling wistful. ''It was inevitable,'' said Davenport, who is ranked No. 9. ''This year, I'll probably fall out of the top 10. Next year, I know I'll have great opportunities.''
That's not to say Davenport is writing off the rest of this season. It would be a mistake, said CBS analyst Mary Carillo, to confuse Davenport's mild-mannered demeanor with a lack of intensity.
''She's got plenty of fire, believe me,'' said Carillo, a former tour player. ''She gets more aggravated at herself than the conditions, or a call, or an opponent. She has plenty of passionate anger, but it's very self-directed.''
Like other fans of Davenport, Carillo enjoys that ''she's not the diva that a lot of people around her are. She never bought into that. She's not one of those types who demand a magazine cover if someone's going to do a story on her. She does what she does and she does it well. She's very nicely balanced.''
Balance doesn't make headlines, but in Davenport's case, it has helped her endure where others haven't. Which is why the nine-year pro can't bring herself to cede anything to the Williams sisters, no matter how strong their grip on women's tennis.
''It's just the way that the game goes,'' Davenport said. ''In 1997 Martina Hingis lost, I think, only five times. People were saying she was going to dominate a long time. It's almost laughable now.
''Certainly the Williamses can be dominant for years and years. But Jennifer did so well last year, it's not like they've won the last 15 [Slams] in a row or anything. But there is no question they're on a higher level now than almost anyone on the tour, if not everyone. It's Tiger Woods and golf. Everybody tries to keep up.''
Part of Davenport's plan to keep up involves giving up doubles play, though she has won nearly as many doubles (31) as singles titles. Her knee is much stronger than it was last year and isn't sore, but it will never be as good as new, so she needs to reduce wear and tear.
Davenport said she hardly thinks about the injury during matches. But Carillo, whose less-stellar career was hampered by multiple knee injuries, said even with Davenport's many attributes, the health of the joint could come into play.
''She's not a garden variety `big babe tennis player,''' Carillo said. ''She's got some very winning patterns. Her game took a real hike upward when she worked on her serve and made it a weapon. The question is how willing she is to go after the ball, with her knee. For her to succeed, right from the start, she doesn't want long, complicated rallies. She wants to go after the ball as soon as she sees it.''
Davenport said she doesn't feel limited on the court. In fact, she prefers to take the long view, that the injury might help her stay near the top.
''You have to look at everything [as if it happens] for a reason,'' Davenport said. ''And I do think that this will prolong my career. The break has been refreshing. When I was in the hospital for the couple days after surgery, everything that went through my mind was like, `OK, I've got to get back, I really want to come back and do well again. I don't want to end my career this way.'
''I'm really excited to be back out on the road.''