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Mark Spruce
Sep 7th, 2004, 10:28 AM
I just found this article on the US Open site. And I think that it is great. Especially when they mention the crowd cheerd for Mary when she came back out on court efter getting her leg strapped. And the title of the photo WELL MISS MARY


regards

Mark


http://www.usopen.org/images/pics/thumbs/t_pierce_d08.jpg (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/photos/imagepages/2004-09-06/200409061094510886129.html)
We'll miss Mary (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/photos/imagepages/2004-09-06/200409061094510886129.html)

Pierce Loses Fourth-Round Match, But Not All is Lost
by Joe Checkler
Monday, September 6, 2004


At the end of 2001, Mary Pierce's future in tennis seemed in doubt. For the first time in five years, she had gone an entire season without winning a singles title. Inflammation in her lumbar spine forced her to withdraw from the year's final three Grand Slams and her ranking slipped to No. 130 in the world. Actually, at one point, her ranking dropped to No. 295.

Since then, Pierce, fighting through the recovery of back, abdominal and shoulder injuries and trying to remain spry against younger opponents, has staged a laborious comeback. A two-time Grand Slam champion and one-time No. 3 player in the world, the 29-year-old Pierce has squelched some of her fiery on-court demeanor and learned to have faith in herself. While she has not returned to her former status as a perennial Grand Slam favorite and has now been eliminated from the 2004 US Open, the Frenchwoman has bumped up her ranking, and on Saturday in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Pierce officially re-entered the consciousness of fans and the mainstream media by beating Maria Sharapova in three sets, dominating in the final two after losing the first.

After the match, in an unexpected display, Pierce looked to the sky and said "Thank you, God," then knelt down in front of her changeover chair and cried into her hands. The tears she shed were not in celebration of advancing to the fourth round of the US Open, but rather a retrospective reflection of her return to the spotlight at a time where she can finally handle it. She said a rejuvenated faith has helped her with that.

"My relationship with God has been growing over the last few years, I guess the last four years actually," Pierce said. "At the end of the match, I just walked over to the side of my chair and just felt like doing that."

Pierce has learned to accept the things she cannot change, and now plays with the guile of a veteran rather than the exuberance of a young up-and-comer. Even Sharapova admitted that after her loss.

"She's an experienced player and she knows what it takes. I think I've just got to learn those things," Sharapova said.

Although Pierce lost to another Russian, No. 9-seeded 19-year-old Svetlana Kuznetsova, on Monday, missing out on a chance to advance to a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time since the 2002 French Open, the win over Sharapova proved that she can still play with the best.

A hamstring strain slowed Pierce in the fourth-round match, as did the impressive serves of Kuznetsova, who whacked 13 aces to Pierce's four. Pierce only held one break point opportunity, and she missed on it. After losing the first-set tiebreak by 7-6, Pierce lost the second, 6-2. She called for the trainer down 2-0 in the set, and went into the trainer's room to get tape for her hamstring. When she came back out, she received a loud ovation, but did not have enough mobility to keep up with the younger Kuznetsova.

Early in her career, Pierce's demeanor on the court contained constant shows of frustration and self-doubt. Now, aside from the occasional "c'mon," the signature exclamation of professional tennis players, Pierce is a composed veteran, and it really showed against Sharapova, and even in the frustrating loss to Kuznetsova.

"When I was 17, I think I was a lot more emotional," Pierce said after the Sharapova match. "I would get mad at myself a lot when I would miss a shot or a game. If I lost the first set, I thought I was going to lose the match."

In her high-emotion heyday, Pierce enjoyed her best success. At 20, she won her first Grand Slam, defeating Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in the final of the 1995 Australian Open. She slipped to No. 20 by the end of 1996, but ended each year from 1997 to 2000 in the top 10. She took her second Grand Slam title in 2000, winning at Roland Garros. From there, the injury-induced freefall commenced.

"My tennis was okay, my tennis was always there, it was just the physical side that really took a long time to get back," Pierce said. "Now it's been two and a half years and I am now starting to feel pretty much how I want to. You know, I'm not completely there yet, but I am feeling really good."

Earlier this year, on the grass court at Hertogenbosch, Pierce won her first singles title since the 2000 French Open. At the Olympic Games, Pierce defeated Venus Williams to advance to the quarterfinals, where she lost to eventual gold-medalist Justine Henin-Hardenne. In the victory over Williams, Pierce felt the resurrection.

"In the match against Venus, I felt things I hadn't felt in years when I was moving out on the court," Pierce said. "It felt great."

The past two years, Pierce has felt great in Flushing, NY, where the fans have always embraced her. Last year, she reached the fourth round, but not before pulling out one of the more dramatic comebacks in recent memory in the second round, coming back from down 5-1 in the third set to beat Jelena Dokic at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

In the press conference after the Sharapova match, Pierce attributed her New York (and international) fan base to the fact that she was born in Canada, plays for France, and lives in the United States.

"It's been like that really my whole career," Pierce said. "When I play in France, when I play here, when I play in Canada, they all cheer for me every year. It's really nice. That's just who I am. I'm a little bit of everything."

mamno_MARYFAN
Sep 7th, 2004, 03:46 PM
Great article!!!!:worship:

Its great that Mary managed to make it to the 4th round here again....I still hope that Mary will win the US open one day!!!!:bounce:

MPStylee
Sep 10th, 2004, 08:09 AM
Mary is totally the International Player!!! She gets so much support here in Australia also!!! I hope next season she goes really well in the slams!!! She really deserves to!!! and I think everyone feels that way!

Allez Mary!!!

Andy.
Sep 12th, 2004, 05:46 AM
Such a terrific article it just has such great things to say about Mary. Its nice to see her appreciated so much. She is one of the much loved players of the tour.

Mark Spruce
Sep 12th, 2004, 01:44 PM
Yes I just feel so happy when Mary gets things like that written about her. I just wish it was more often.

regards

Mark