Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2
Eh, I think it would have been more like a case of pity the kook who is stupid enough to try a copycat attack against Steffi while she is holding a racket. There is a great one from around the 1996 French Open when H.A. Branham, who, as attentive readers will recall, was not initially one of Steffi's biggest admirers in the press corps, lets us in on some behind-the-scenes banter regarding Steffi's toughness: "We figure if Steffi had been stabbed that time -- April 1993 -- she would have taken two weeks off, then entered the French Open. And won. And after the guy stabbed her, she probably would have turned around and punched him."
Repercussions of Seles attack linger
Wednesday, April 27, 1994
As much as anyone who took to the tennis court in recent years, Monica Seles was a fighter.
Sounding more like a defensive lineman at the snap of the ball, Seles accompanied her every stroke with a grunt. When she was really into it, that noise could carry beyond stadium walls.
She patrolled the baseline like a guard dog assigned to a specific territory. From there, she was content to whack away relentlessly, for as many returns as it took to wilt her opponent.
As athletes go, her arms were relatively waif-like. But there was no question she was as tough as they come.
Yet Saturday will mark a full year since Seles competed. It has been that long since a deranged spectator wedged a kitchen knife into Seles' back.
By all accounts, the physical scars have healed. But not the emotional ones.
Seles was expected to make her grand slam return in January at the Australian Open, then elected to take more time. Now, it would be a surprise if she played at Wimbledon in June.
And of course the Citizen Cup in Hamburg, Germany, where the attack occurred last April 30, is passing without her presence.
But even without Seles, there was a grim reminder this week that the nuts are still out there.
Despite a death threat in Hamburg, Steffi Graf decided to play on. If she was rattled by the threat, there was no sign of it in her 6-0, 6-0 victory Tuesday.
Germany's other tennis superstar, Boris Becker , also has had to endure recent threats that appear to be related to his political views and the fact his wife is black.
But this is hardly just a problem for Germans or tennis players.
Even in gun-free Japan, Katarina Witt not long ago had to have armed guards stationed outside her hotel room, because of fears she was being stalked.
And it's not all that far-fetched to anticipate the day when all major sports events - and not just the Olympics - will have the kind of security that accompanied President Clinton's visit to the Final Four.
Not only will you have to leave early to beat the traffic, but also to avoid the crush at metal detectors.
In the wake of Tonya Harding's legal saga, Nancy Kerrigan's initial reaction to the attack on her in Detroit has been forgotten.
"Is Ontario near here?" Kerrigan asked her coach, Evy Scotvold. That was because Kerrigan had received some particularly disturbing mail from that part of Canada, just across the border from Detroit.
While Kerrigan was a guest at the Academy Awards, an arrest also was made of a man believed to be stalking her.
Kerrigan, talking this month about the 10,000 pieces of mail she had received since the Winter Olympics, told USA TODAY's Steve Woodward that most were supportive.
"But there are some," she added delicately, "just a handful, you don't know exactly how to take them."
No doubt there are hundreds of other examples of weirdos threatening sports figures that we never hear about, for fear of encouraging them.
In Alabama, some people have wondered if the police really need to provide Michael Jordan with an escort after his baseball games for the Class AA Birmingham Barons.
Maybe it does appear excessive. But given Alabama's past, consider what would be said about lackadaisical security if the world's most prominent black athlete was hit with a random act of violence there.
In today's sports-obsessed world, the only scenario to consider is the worst. As cold-hearted as it would seem, you no longer can blame any athlete who elects not to face the crush of autograph-seekers.
In Hamburg, Graf this week said, "By playing here, I want to show that I am not worried about an attack."
Her courage should be applauded. But one hopes that, for her own sake, she also will stay at least a little worried.