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View Full Version : The Tennis Bodyguard: Williamses unfriendly, Davenport friendliest, Seles insecure


hingis-seles
Aug 22nd, 2011, 07:43 PM
Best seat in the house

You saw him a hundred times, yet you never saw him.

He was in the middle of nearly every huge U.S. Open tennis match during the past two decades, yet he went unnoticed.

He is bodyguard James Rickenbacker, an eclipse of a man, and he probably has seen more great tennis up close than any person alive -- and never paid a dime for it.

Rickenbacker, 57, is a personal guard for Donald Trump 50 weeks of the year. But for two weeks every September from 1995 until 2009, he also stood guard behind nearly every great player -- man or woman -- at the U.S. Open. He was a kind of human canvas against which great Open matches were played, standing there behind dark sunglasses, motionless, waiting on trouble.

He never got much, except from the players.

"Pete Sampras?" says Rickenbacker, a former semipro fullback. "Man, he was a tough guy. One time, at Louis Armstrong [Stadium], I was taking him down the stairs before a match, and a cameraman was coming up. And Sampras bumped right into him! On purpose! Just took a shoulder and knocked the man sideways. Maybe he was getting his mind right, but wow, I was shocked."

Rickenbacker saw a lot of that kind of thing.

"Venus and Serena [Williams]. Those girls weren't the least bit friendly. They didn't even say hello. They were all business. Focused, man."

Remember the infamous bump in 1997 between Venus and Romanian Irina Spirlea? He says Venus did it on purpose. "I saw her bump that girl, just give her a bump -- boom! -- right into her. And the girl didn't even do anything about it. I was like, 'Ooh, Venus is going to kick your ass today!' (Williams won in a third-set tiebreak.) But it's funny, 'cause their dad was always so nice."

Rickenbacker's job was to escort the players from the locker room to the court and guard them during changeover breaks. When they went back on the court, he sat in a chair in the corner. If there was a delay or an injury break, he'd escort them back to the locker room. So he saw players in every emotional and physical state. He was a witness to their every neurosis, fear and peccadillo.

"[Rafael] Nadal. Man, he's so fidgety. He's gotta have everything just so … I mean, the label on the water bottle has to face a certain way, and his towel has to be folded a certain way and his rackets have to be sitting a certain way. And if anything happens to his stuff, he keeps fiddling until it's right. And then as soon as they tell him the break's over, he'd -- bam! -- sprint back out on the court."

He remained detached from favoritism, except for one player -- Andre Agassi.

"He was the kindest man, nicest player I ever worked for. He was real. Genuine. Not the least bit stuck on himself. Same for his wife [women's tennis player Steffi Graf]. Every time I'd see her, she'd come up and give me a big kiss. So many tennis players are spoiled. But not them. They're the best people."

Agassi remembered Rickenbacker in his autobiography, "Open":

James has been at the U.S. Open almost as long as I have. He's led me down this tunnel before and after glorious wins and excruciating losses. Large, kind, with tough-guy scars that he wears with pride … He's one of the first people I look for when I walk into [Arthur] Ashe Stadium. … James always makes sure to be the one behind my chair. During a grueling match, I'll often catch James looking concerned, and I'll whisper, Don't worry, James, I've got this chump today. It always makes him chuckle.

Anybody else make you chuckle?

"[Novak] Djokovic," Rickenbacker says. "That man's hilarious. He'd mutter stuff to himself. And he'd do impressions all the time. He could do Nadal perfect. He could do anybody."

Friendliest woman? "Probably Lindsay Davenport. She used to bounce the ball off my back."

Meanest? "That guy from Germany -- Becker. He was kinda mean. Man, he'd get on the line judges."

Biggest entourages? "Oh, the Williams sisters, by far. They always had a big group of people with them. And celebrities. Janet Jackson, you name it."

[B]Insecure? "Monica Seles, I guess. She was just a very nervous girl. Not confident at all. Always asking me, "Where am I supposed to go now? What am I supposed to do?'"

Understandable, of course. The on-the-court stabbing of Seles during a match in Hamburg, Germany, in 1993 was what gave Rickenbacker his job in the first place. That's when tournaments began posting guards between the players and the fans.

Rickenbacker quit the Open job last year after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. "Just didn't think I could stand out there in that sun all day for two weeks," he says. He's fine now -- 100 percent in remission -- and is considering a comeback.

Until then, he has Trump's back, and front, and side.

"Very nice man," Rickenbacker says. "Lets people take his picture and everything. But you gotta know -- Mr. Trump is a businessman. He don't play around. He ain't playin'."

Sounds as if Trump would like Sampras.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=5519248

edificio
Aug 22nd, 2011, 07:47 PM
May I just point out one thing, amongst the pile of b.s. comments from this Trump man. Spirlea said she bumped into Venus on purpose. She was thrilled to have done it.

:bs:

:rolleyes:

Bijoux0021
Aug 22nd, 2011, 07:48 PM
:yawn:

50Sense
Aug 22nd, 2011, 07:50 PM
Pete Sampras is "tough" for intentionally shoulder bumping a camera man, but the Williams sisters are "unfriendly" for being focused on their tennis and not speaking to him before a match. Oh, okay.

wildemu
Aug 22nd, 2011, 07:51 PM
yea this guy is a clown. He has a wealth of information on the players and the best he can come up with is Seles being lost, Sampras checking a camera guy, and the Williams sisters being focused before a match.

Bijoux0021
Aug 22nd, 2011, 07:52 PM
May I just point out one thing, amongst the pile of b.s. comments from this Trump man. Spirlea said she bumped into Venus on purpose. She was thrilled to have done it.

:bs:

:rolleyes:
Exactly! Some people get a kick out of making the Williamses the bad guys regardless of the facts.

debopero
Aug 22nd, 2011, 07:52 PM
Williams Bashing Thread :banana:

tennisbum79
Aug 22nd, 2011, 07:53 PM
This guy sound like "Joe The Plumber" seeking his 15 minutes in the sun.

dsanders06
Aug 22nd, 2011, 07:55 PM
So who staked on 8 minutes before the Willytards arrived en masse to insult the bodyguard/the players he spoke well of/the thread starter?

The Witch-king
Aug 22nd, 2011, 07:55 PM
This is stale tea.

tennisbum79
Aug 22nd, 2011, 07:55 PM
Pete Sampras is "tough" for intentionally shoulder bumping a camera man, but the Williams sisters are "unfriendly" for being focused on their tennis and not speaking to him before a match. Oh, okay.
Exactly my thought.


Like anything connected to Trump, this does not pass the smell test.

Shuji Shuriken
Aug 22nd, 2011, 07:56 PM
So who staked on 8 minutes before the Willytards arrived en masse to insult the bodyguard/the players he spoke well of/the thread starter?
Girl it just figures that your bitter ass would be in here :spit:.

tennisbum79
Aug 22nd, 2011, 07:57 PM
So who staked on 8 minutes before the Willytards arrived en masse to insult the bodyguard/the players he spoke well of/the thread starter?
We are questioning the consistency of his judgment, we are not insulting the bodyguard. Simple as that.

le bon vivant
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:15 PM
Wait :lol: I dont think he was saying they were unfriendly.
Hes just saying that they werent talkative and wanting to visit with him everytime they saw him. Thats fair, its his opinion.

TheAllan
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:22 PM
His poor recollection of something as well-publicized as the Spirlea-Venus bumpavaganza makes the rest of his anecdotes questionable. Can't see Sampras deliberately bumping into a cameraman either.

50Sense
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:23 PM
Wait :lol: I dont think he was saying they were unfriendly.
Hes just saying that they werent talkative and wanting to visit with him everytime they saw him. Thats fair, its his opinion.

Those girls weren't the least bit friendly

...I mean :lol::lol:

tennisbum79
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:24 PM
Wait :lol: I dont think he was saying they were unfriendly.
Hes just saying that they werent talkative and wanting to visit with him everytime they saw him. Thats fair, its his opinion.

So what you make of this?



"Venus and Serena [Williams]. Those girls weren't the least bit friendly. They didn't even say hello. They were all business. Focused, man."

Remember the infamous bump in 1997 between Venus and Romanian Irina Spirlea? He says Venus did it on purpose. "I saw her bump that girl, just give her a bump -- boom! -- right into her. And the girl didn't even do anything about it. I was like, 'Ooh, Venus is going to kick your ass today!' (Williams won in a third-set tiebreak.) But it's funny, 'cause their dad was always so nice."

And stating Venus initiated the bump is re-writing history, it not a matter subject to the whim of one's opinion. Irina herself made it known that Venus was arrogant and did not move
If this were in court, he would make a bad witness. Inconsistent judgement , inaccurate recollection,

Excelscior
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:24 PM
Pete Sampras is "tough" for intentionally shoulder bumping a camera man, but the Williams sisters are "unfriendly" for being focused on their tennis and not speaking to him before a match. Oh, okay.

Agreed. But is the bodyguard really the problem, or the poster for posting this, and we for reacting to it/him, as if he said anything special :( :confused: :( ?

new-york
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:24 PM
So who staked on 8 minutes before the Willytards arrived en masse to insult the bodyguard/the players he spoke well of/the thread starter?

We have to keep you busy.

Anyways, not being friendly and being rude are two different things.

Uranium
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:27 PM
So who staked on 8 minutes before the Willytards arrived en masse to insult the bodyguard/the players he spoke well of/the thread starter?

It took you 12 minutes to enter a thread with Venus/Serena/Williams in a thread title? You're slacking, dsanders.

I know you're too busy stalking Serena and Venus' forums, but come on now. 12 minutes is a long time for you.

le bon vivant
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:37 PM
...I mean :lol::lol:

So what you make of this?Some people think not being bubbly, smiling and talkative = not being friendly. The way the OP said 'Unfriendly' has a negative connotation, but it could just mean the person was quiet/not really open to coversation. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when youre an athlete about to perform on a stadium court. Id like to see the full quote in context, because he immediately compliments them after saying that, calling them "all business and focused".

Of course there's likely a element of sexism in the way he thinks. But he is deluded in regards to the Venus/Spirlea bump, what the hell was he looking at?

L'Enfant Sauvage
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:38 PM
May I just point out one thing, amongst the pile of b.s. comments from this Trump man. Spirlea said she bumped into Venus on purpose. She was thrilled to have done it.

:bs:

:rolleyes:

This is stale tea.

These. This article was posted literally a year ago.

MrSerenaWilliams
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:41 PM
This is stale tea.

OK!?!?!

Sammo
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:42 PM
Pete Sampras is "tough" for intentionally shoulder bumping a camera man, but the Williams sisters are "unfriendly" for being focused on their tennis and not speaking to him before a match. Oh, okay.

Pretty much... Sampras is an assho

tennisbum79
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:42 PM
Some people think not being bubbly, smiling and talkative = not being friendly. The way the OP said 'Unfriendly' has a negative connotation, but it could just mean the person was quiet/not really open to coversation. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when youre an athlete about to perform on a stadium court. Id like to see the full quote in context, because he immediately compliments them after saying that, calling them "all business and focused".

Of course there's likely a element of sexism in the way he thinks. But he is deluded in regards to the Venus/Spirlea bump, what the hell was he looking at?
I know you are trying to be fair and understanding, the statements all taken together just do not support any reason for giving him a benefit of doubt.

Why distort the Venus/Spirlea incident to fit his narrative?

Bijoux0021
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:45 PM
These. This article was posted literally a year ago.
The OP is obviously looking for attention. :o :help:

Zamboni
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:47 PM
These. This article was posted literally a year ago.

And been discussed back then.