Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: London, UK
An Amélie article
Source: The Daily Telegraph
Publication date: 2001-06-29
IT WAS Martina Hingis who once described her as "half a man", the implication being that Amelie Mauresmo was one of those tennis players who belonged in a special category known as the mixed singles. This was a bit unkind of Martina, although you have to say that if Amelie was eligible for the British and Irish Lions, we'd certainly feel a bit more confident about tomorrow's rugby Test in Brisbane.
You need to have pretty broad shoulders when you're subjected to this kind of comment and, fortunately for her, Amelie has a pair of shoulders that could bear the weight of a couple of family-sized fridge-freezers. You certainly couldn't imagine them supporting a strapless dress at this year's champions' ball, although if the No 6 seed does go on to win the title, any hint of the men's winner getting fresh would very likely see him carried off the dancefloor after a thumping two-handed backhand.
The Frenchwoman is quite open about what might otherwise be described as the 15-love that dare not speak its name, preferring - unlike some on the women's circuit - life outside the closet. And while she may barely register a flicker on this year's Wimbledon totty-ometer, Mauresmo is as popular in France as Mademoiselle Pout herself, Mary Pierce.
Mauresmo recently donated her doubles' winnings at the Italian Open (about pounds 5,000) to a child injured in a car accident in Rome, and at the French Open at Roland Garros she won the spectator award - the Prix Sanex du Public - for the "best liked" player of the tournament.
Down to earth as a character, Mauresmo's ambition after tennis is to open a cafe in Paris and become a bartender at her own bar. She can certainly afford to open one, with career prize money of pounds 439,700 - neither would she incur any extra expense from having to hire a bouncer. A quiet word from Amelie ("I think that's quite enough Pernod for one night, Pierre, don't you . . ?") would persuade even the most boisterous customer to reach for his hat and coat.
It was getting on for chucking-out time yesterday when Mauresmo finally made it on to court after a series of rain delays for her second-round match (women) against Eleni Daniilidou of Crete. And at over 6ft, and far from dainty, the 18-year-old Greek made it an all- heavyweight clash.
However, if the earth moved on Court No 1, there was no real display of Amazonian hitting, with the speed gun rarely clocking more than 60mph. Mauresmo's heavier ground strokes, though, took their toll against an opponent ranked 135 places below her, and her 33 wins from 37 matches in 2001 is the best record on the women's circuit.
When someone as conventionally unglamorous as Mauresmo is called into the interview room at the All England Club, the questions are mainly about tennis. You may think that there is nothing surprising in a woman tennis player being asked questions about tennis but, where Wimbledon is concerned, this places her in the minority.
When Alicia Molik came off court after losing in straight sets to Lindsay Davenport, she was immediately quizzed - at length - about the tightness of her dress. And while feminine attire is a hardy annual for the interview room - along with strawberries, boyfriends and mad parents - this year's theme has been dogs. Repeat, dogs.
If you thumb through the women's media guide, you will find all manner of fascinating stuff in the biography section, ranging from Alina Jidkova's teddy bear collection, to Janet Lee's "most memorable experience in tennis". This was "speaking to an elementary school classroom about how I got started in tennis".
However, this kind of thing has been very small beer this week next to the Williams sisters' dogs, and you are invited to ponder in what other sport you could find the following post-match dialogueQ (To Venus): Is Bobby your lucky charm?
A: Well, Bob has been having some discipline problems lately.
Q: Is that why your game is fluctuating?
A: As a mom [of the dog, this is], you've got to worry.
Q: If Bobby were here?
A: He'd be a joy every day . . . he's a feel-good dog.
Q (To Serena): Do you have a dog problem like your sister?
A: What type of problem does she have?
Q: She was missing Bobby a lot.
A: I have pictures of my dogs in my purse. I look at them every day. I don't want to talk about it.
Barking, or what?