Davenport glad to be back in Bali
Bruce Emond, The Jakarta Post, Nusa Dua, Bali
Lindsay Davenport is in a very different place today from this time last year.
Then, she was coming off a strong summer, despite having lost an achingly close Wimbledon final to Venus Williams. She went on to take the Wismilak International title here, a tournament experience she called the best of her career.
Now, the 30-year-old Californian is on the comeback trail. The former world number one is only seeded three, her ranking falling to 12th after injury and a freak accident -- she blacked out and hit her head at home -- limited her to 13 tournaments this season.
Although she says she is happy to be back playing again, she is still smarting from a dispute with the WTA Tour administration. She talked at length in an Aug. 22 New York Times article about the row over special wildcard exemptions, but said she would not sue, because "it's just not my style".
Speaking to The Jakarta Post on Monday at the tournament's opening, Davenport said it might take court proceedings to settle the matter.
She gave up US$500,000 in bonus money in order not to have to commit a year ahead to 2006's demanding schedule. But she believed she had clarified with WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott that she would be able to receive wildcards for direct entry to tournaments; he was not forthcoming when she did came back from injury in August.
"It's a very long and complicated story," she told the Post. "It's unfortunate. It's about a lot of rules, and about discussions I had with the CEO, and the agreements that I thought we had and he did not follow through with."
Pointedly, Davenport never refers to Scott, a former men's player and ATP Tour executive, by name. She stressed she was not asking for special treatment.
"It was a rule I felt I was eligible for. He then chose not to give it to me. As for his reasons, I will never know. I didn't want any special favors, I was adamant that I don't believe in that anyway...
"And I think now it will probably be a matter for a court of law to decide."
Scott could not be reached for comment Monday; he told the Times that while he felt bad about Davenport's reaction, "... I'm sending a signal that we have to toughen up our entry and commitment rules".
During her time away, Davenport enjoyed a rare period of domesticity with her husband of three years, Jon Leach. She did not watch any women's tennis: "It's hard to watch a tournament that you are not part of..."
With 51 titles, including three grand slams, and more than $22 million in prize money in her 13-year professional career, Davenport could have easily settled into a quiet retirement. Instead, she found she missed competing, and even the tough practice required to return. "I've come back to enjoy it," she said.
Although Davenport is in Bali along with top seed and world number seven Svetlana Kuznetsova, the event, as with so many tournaments recently, has been hit by withdrawals.
She attributes the problem to the packed tournament calendar, with little letup for players to recuperate from the grind.
"The people who are running our sport could do a much better job of putting together a calendar that makes more sense, for players, for fans... Sooner or later, they will listen to us."
But she is not quite ready to say good-bye, despite speculation since her 2004 Wimbledon semifinal loss to Maria Sharapova.
"It's a week by week, month by month decision," she said. "Part of the dispute with the Tour is that they wanted me to enter tournaments eight months in advance, and at my age and with my health, that's not possible."
As for her legacy to the game, she is magnanimous.
"... I'm not the greatest player who ever played. But I feel that I've done things a bit differently... I've shown that you can act with a certain level of class and respect for other players."