Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2
She shoulda feigned death for the rest of the press conference. "I feel fine--gaaahhuurggg...."
WIMBLEDON - EXTRA! EXTRA! London tabloids tell all - and then some
By Pat Calabria
July 3, 1989
A BIRMINGHAM, England, man fathers 50 children. A Liverpool woman buries her baby alive. Read all about it! Banner headlines scream from the London tabloids in bold, black type in a style harkening back to schoolboys in knickers lugging sacks of newspapers and shouting, "Extra! Extra!" No story is too unimportant or insignificant as long as it involves bribery, celebrities, scandal or sex.
Some of the stories may even contain a grain of truth. The newspapers are thin, brassy and a few of them carry "Page 3" photographs of bare-chested women. The publications are lumped together as the "Fleet Street tabloids," although not all of them are located there. It's sort of like characterizing the theater district in New York as "Broadway."
Wimbledon is big news; not always the tennis, just Wimbledon. The day before the tournament opened, the Daily Express carried the story "Ivan Lendl: His Life and Loves." Boris Becker's love interest, Karen Schulz, is a hot topic, too.
The newspaper Today sent a reporter to Cologne, West Germany, to interview Steffi Graf's boyfriend, Alex Mronz, to get the revealing scoop that sometimes it's hard for them to go out to dinner in public. If the subject is too dull, Fleet Street has been known to stretch the truth or invent it altogether.
During her first news conference here, Graf was asked if she missed her father, Peter, who was home in West Germany recuperating from a viral infection. "Oh, sure," she said.
"But how much do you miss him?" came the next question from a tabloid reporter.
Graf, bewildered, said: "Well, I miss him technically because he helps with my tennis and I miss him because he's my father."
And the next day, the Daily Sun described Graf as "heartsick." A sub-headline trumpeted her as "Daddy's girl."
It was a big story, like the outrage over the price of strawberries and cream at Wimbledon. The newspapers railed that the cost of a tiny cup of strawberries was a pound, sixty-five, or about $2.75. All the tabloids carried the story on Page One the same day, and when Wimbledon quickly relented and dropped the price 15 pence - 28 cents - each claimed the credit.
"Happy tennis fans were toasting the Sun as the price of strawberries at Wimbledon was slashed hours after we exposed the great fruit racket," the paper proudly wrote.
"Strawberry prices were slashed at Wimbledon after the Daily Mirror revealed how they were being sold at more than 40 pence each," the Mirror boasted.
A daily paper named "The Sport" isn't about sports at all, unless you count the full-page picture of Gabriela Sabatini in a skimpy swimsuit. The picture got nearly as much attention as Lady Di finishing second in a Parents Day 80-meter sprint at Prince William's school. The Daily Mail dutifully reported that "she was expected to retain the title she won last year."
But Di was beaten at the tape by another mum. "Pipped at the Post," the headline read.
If the camera lens isn't focused on the royals or the man who barbecued his son, then it's on John McEnroe. He tossed his racket - once - in his first-round match, so one story on his dramatic comeback from two sets down was headlined "Dirty Mac Tirade!"
After McEnroe's victory over Australian Darren Cahill, the Daily Star's front page blared " `Aussies? I Hate 'Em,' Says Mac." Of course, he never said any such thing.
Then again, several years ago the Star ran a front-page interview with an astrologer who predicted that McEnroe wouldn't win Wimbledon because he married Tatum O'Neal and their stars weren't aligned right, or something. And when McEnroe didn't win, the follow-up story had the tone of, "I told you so."
Two years ago, a headline rang out after Boris Becker's early elimination by unheralded Peter Doohan: "Boris Bonked." In British slang, "bonking" is a euphemism for intercourse and the story went on to disclose that Becker's strength was sapped by the demands of his gorgeous lover.
In the tabloids, lovers are always "gorgeous" or "stunning."
Of course, all the exposes come at the expense of trifling matters like world hunger and arms control. There isn't room for those issues when the papers must plan for the story of the London lad who yanked out five front teeth with a pair of pliers. He'd been promised the tooth fairy would reward him with two pounds a tooth, but he didn't want to wait until they fell out by themselves.
At least the Mirror had a photo of the boy's toothless grin as proof the episode actually might have happened. There was no evidence forthcoming that a Manchester woman really murdered her boss and sold his false teeth, or that a murder suspect apprehended in France really is a werewolf.
But no one makes news like the stars. Three times in the same interview, Graf was asked if she had recovered from the mild case of food poisoning that helped spoil her chance to win the French Open. Reporters here like to fish for injuries - they're almost as big as boyfriends.
Twice Graf answered that, yes, she was in perfect health, and the third time she was asked, she replied in exasperation, "No matter how many times you ask me, I'm going to feel fine."
It was the right thing to say, but it didn't make good copy.
It certainly wasn't as good as the secret photographs of Prince Albert of Monaco sunbathing beside a topless beauty or the account of little Prince William wrestling with a schoolmate. "Basher," the Mirror wrote, nicknaming the Prince, "then started giving his opponent a going-over."
It was almost as thrilling as the huge treatment three papers gave to Eva Sviglerova after her loss to Monica Seles, pictures and all. "Cheeky Eva," the tabloids speculated, wasn't wearing panties under her tennis skirt.
And then there was the headline in the Sun that pushed even Wimbledon off the front page. It read: "Nun Quits to Become Rock Star."