Ive copied this from GM. it literally made my eyes well up
On top again
Davenport delights in No. 1 ranking while contemplating life after tennis
By PATRICK OBLEY
CHARLESTON — She is a grizzled veteran but does not look it.
She awakes each morning with aches but does not show it.
Lindsay Davenport acts and smiles the way you would expect any 28-year-old, yet she finds herself contemplating the twilight of her tennis career.
“It’s such a weird, weird position to be in to think a lot of your potential and career earnings is done at 30,” said the world’s top-ranked player Monday as she prepared to play in her seventh Family Circle Cup. “It’s just backwards. It shouldn’t be like that. It’s just an abnormal way of life.”
Venus Williams, who was one of Davenport’s victims this past week as she defended her title at Amelia Island, has looked on incredulously at the scrutiny of Davenport in recent years.
“It’s not fair that people seem to impose retirement on you,” said 25-year-old Williams about Davenport, who will turn 29 on June 8. “She’s playing really well. She’s definitely on top of her game right now. But I think people just try to force you into retirement in this game when you’re 27.”
Indeed, such a moment arrived for Davenport less than a month after her 27th birthday at Wimbledon in 2003. Her body battered by a number of ailments, her spirit broken by a string of setbacks and Billy Jean King’s criticism of her decision not to play the Fed Cup, Davenport sat alone in the Wimbledon locker room before her round of 16 match and cried.
“I was just sitting in my locker thinking I really don’t enjoy this anymore. I really don’t want to be doing this anymore,” she said.
Reaching out for support, she called her husband, Jon, who was asleep at their California home.
“He said don’t worry about it right now,” she recalled. “I came through and I won, and I played well the rest of the tournament, even though I didn’t win.”
But those nagging thoughts continued to percolate in her mind until they boiled over a few days later during a postmatch news conference:
Speaking with your head instead of your heart, is there another Grand Slam in you?
“Time’s running out. I don’t know how many more I’ll be playing in.”
Just to make sure, you plan on being back here next year?
“We’ll see. I’m not sure.”
What are you thinking?
Well, we don’t know. We’ll see ...
You must be thinking something.
No, no. It definitely ran through my mind when I was out there, that this could be my last singles match out there. But, you know, I don’t want to blow it out of proportion. ...
Was it strange having that thought running through your head?
“Now you’re going too much into it ...”
That news conference continues to resonate with Davenport, for no matter how well she continues to play, she knows the crossroads are near.
“It was just sort of an answer to a question at the time, and then I felt really guilty for the next few days that a lot had been made of it,” she said. “It created a lot of headlines and a lot of drama, and now it follows me around everywhere. I swear I have no idea what will happen.
“I think about (retirement) a lot, though,” she continued. “I think it’s going to be a hard transition. I’m not naive about it.”
If she continues to play the way she has in 2005, Davenport could have the opportunity to write a fairy-tale finish to her storybook career. With her win this past week at Amelia Island, she has surpassed $1 million in 2005 earnings. On the way to the title, she dispatched top-20 foes Nadia Petrova (No. 12) and Venus Williams (No. 8).
Overall this year, Davenport is 24-3 with two titles (she also won at Dubai last month). Her losses came in the finals of the Australian Open (No. 4 Serena Williams), Tokyo Open (No. 2 Maria Sharapova) and at Indian Wells (Kim Clijsters).
“She’s just winning everything,” said Australia’s Alicia Molik, the world’s No. 9 player. “And it doesn’t matter what surface she’s playing on.”
By defending her title at Amelia Island, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour’s first clay tournament, Davenport hopes to finally win the one Grand Slam event that has eluded her — the French Open. But if a victory at Roland Garros is not in the cards, then so be it. She hopes the game remains fun to the end.
“It’s not losing that bothers me. It’s the non-enjoyment because I do love the sport. It’s an amazing sport,” she said. “There are days when I think, ‘I’ve just had it after 13 years of this,’ and other days where it’s great.
“When you’re always at the top — and I’ve been fortunate to always be around the top three or so — pretty soon, it’s always an upset when you lose,” she added. “Players come up like (Sharapova), and you work to try and find ways to beat them. Sometimes it works out, and other times, well, there are players who are destined to be great.”
So, what is next for Davenport? Her answer to that question is a broad, open-ended work in progress.
“There’s going to be a void in my life when it’s gone,” she said, measuring each word. “I’ve never been one to sit around. I tried it once and after three days, it was like, ‘this sucks, I’m so bored, I have no purpose ...’
“I do know, No. 1, that I want to start a family and have kids,” she said, gaining steam. “So, as far as having another career, I think that would be tough to do right away.”
Ever the realist, Davenport adds that she worries about getting pregnant. She also does not know if she would want to stay connected to the sport or involve herself in charity work.
But not once as she contemplates such matters does the smile fade from her face.
After all, she is 28. Call it the optimism of youth.
“When I get home and feel like I’m not going to hit another ball, I’m not going to practice, then I’ll know I’m ready,” she said. “As much as I’ve enjoyed the attention and everything that goes with that, it will be weird to not have many people recognize me or come up to me. That’s a little scary, but that’s reality.”
Reach Obley at (803) 771-8473 or firstname.lastname@example.org