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post #2969 of (permalink) Old Oct 2nd, 2013, 11:41 AM
country flag Ms. Anthropic
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

I wonder if they think the tennis pros have household staff to do the laundry or the grocery shopping when they're at home.

Sunday, October 2, 1988

SEOUL - Forsaking luxury hotels and room service, the wealthy stars of tennis seem to enjoy being treated like ordinary people at the Seoul Olympics.

The Games have led to the unlikely sight of Chris Evert lining up in the athletes' cafeteria, Stefan Edberg sharing a room and Steffi Graf doing her laundry with the rest of the West German team.

"It is a real learning experience for me,'' said Evert, who for nearly 16 years has been used to the wealthy life at the top end of the professional tennis circuit.

"It is great. Everyone is equal here - no one is on a pedestal.''

Edberg, the top seed in the men's tournament, is sharing living quarters in the athletes' village with fellow Swedish players Anders Jarryd and Caterina Lindqvist and the team coaches.

"I can't expect to have room service here but the apartments are quite nice actually,'' said the world's third-best player. "It is very different to what we are used to.''

Graf, fresh from the U.S. Open victory which gave her the Grand Slam - and a check for $275,000 - likes the cluster of high-rise apartments in the village for a different reason. It offers her sanctuary from the journalists, photographers and fans who pursue her every time she sets foot outside the wire fences.

"I haven't really seen anything of the city,'' the 19-year-old world number one said. "But I am happy with that because I just want a quiet time.''

Tennis players - professional or amateur - have not been part of the Olympic family since 1924. Professional players, among the richest people in sport, were admitted here after much discussion in the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

India's Vijay Amritraj, a familiar, smiling face on the professional circuit for 15 years and joint director of a successful film company, feels the experience has moved even the most hardened of players who came to Seoul.

"It's overwhelming if you're 18, it's overwhelming if you're 34,'' said Amritraj, who is approaching his 35th birthday. "It's a unique event for everybody.''

Tim Mayotte, the men's second seed, has enjoyed the chance to watch the other sports.

"To me the most exciting thing is trying to sneak into all the events,'' said the American who has been cheering on his team-mates in the gymnastics and basketball.

Fellow-American Pam Shriver, seeded fourth in the women's singles, said the village showed her what she had missed by not going to college.

"A lot of it is, I would imagine, like going to college --doing the laundry all together and going to dinner, and they have lounges in each building.

"Even if the food is not eight-star it is pretty good and they have a lot of ice cream,'' Shriver added.

Her only complaints were of security checks and over-enthusiastic South Korean autograph hunters.

"There are certain things that because of the security are made very awkward but everyone has to go through them and after day six you don't give it a thought,'' she said.

Shriver, who at six feet towers over many of the local fans, added: "The Koreans, the ones who want your autograph --they let you know. They're pretty aggressive.''

New Zealand's Kelly Evernden confessed he had been surprised that athletes were required to stand in the sun for two and a half hours at the opening ceremony.

"You wouldn't catch us doing that at Wimbledon,'' he said with a laugh. "Don't get me wrong - I'm honored to be here but I'm in a state of culture shock. But this is the Olympics so you're happy to get in and do it.''

Russian teenager Natalia Zvereva admitted she was itching to follow coach Olga Morozova's example and get down to Seoul's bargain shopping district, Itaewon.

"Olga said there were nice leather clothes,'' Zvereva said.

But the fun of the Olympic Games has not spilled over to the tennis courts, said France's Henri Leconte, beaten in the second round by local player Kim Bong-soo.

"The feeling here is not really like an Olympic feeling,'' Leconte said. "It is almost like a regular tournament.''

Mayotte suggested that a change in format, from an individual tournament to a team event along the lines of the Davis Cup, would stimulate interest in Olympic tennis, which has been poorly attended so far.

"The concept of the team medal is more appealing than the individual medal,'' Mayotte said. "It would be more exciting."
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