WHEN WILL ALEXANDRA STEVENSON CALL IT A CAREER?
Posted by WTM on April 11, 2010 ·
By Charles Bricker
Could this be the loss, a double-bagel to No. 140 Ekaterina Ivanova on Saturday afternoon, that finally drives Ms. 15 Minutes of Fame Alexandra Stevenson into retirement?
Not match retirement. She’s done that 42 times over a career that has gotten far more publicity than it deserved. But retirement retirement.
How Stevenson, ranked No. 248, got a wild card into the qualifying at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C., is a mystery to everyone but tournament organizers, but she hardly made them look good.
She was outscored 25-5 in the opening set of this 6-0, 6-0 humiliation, outscored 51-15 for the match (an average of 1.25 points per game) and was on and off the court in 51 minutes on the first day of quallies. Her next stop? Heaven only knows. But there are undoubtedly a great number of people who would tell you it’s time at age 29 to quit her day job and find a more fruitful career.
This was only Stevenson’s third match of 2010 — all qualifiers — and she deserves some credit for finishing the match. After retiring from seven matches with various ailments in 2009, she quit her previous two this year, the last time in a $25,000 Futures event in Clearwater, Fla.
She hasn’t been in the main draw of a regular Sony Ericsson WTA Tour tournament since the folks in Charleston gave her a wild card into the Family Circle Cup a year ago. She hasn’t won a main draw match in a regular tournament since the 2008 Family Circle Cup.
Her life these days consists of bouncing from one backwater tournament to another — a Grand Canyon of difference from her rookie season in 1999, when, out of nowhere, she reached the semifinals of Wimbledon and acknowledged that she was the out-of-wedlock daughter of pro basketball icon Julius Erving.
Since then. . .virtually nothing. She has been beset by injuries, primarily to her right shoulder, and by the mismanagement of her career. Coaches have quit on her because they were unable to work with her mother, who still accompanies her daughter as a “coach” to all her tournaments.
She broke into tennis in controversy with mother Samantha claiming the WTA Tour was rife with lesbians, and controversy sometimes still follows her. Two years ago at the Canadian Open qualifying, she was beaten in the first round by Ahsha Rolle of Miami, losing match point on a “hindrance” after she screamed “out” on a ball not called out by the linespersons.
Journalists at that match reported that her mother used foul language in criticizing the chair umpire and Alexandra was reported to have dropped a couple of F bombs in comments to the umpire, who had ruled hindrance and given the match point to Rolle.
Not everything has gone badly for the Stevensons. A year ago, in a warm, fuzzy story for ESPN, she revealed how she had reunited with Erving, from whom she had been estranged for years, and Erving is believed to have helped fund Stevenson’s tennis career, which no longer is making much money.
She hasn’t appeared in a Grand Slam main draw since the 2004 U.S. Open and, since that amazing run at the 1999 Wimbledon, she is only 4-19 in Grand Slam matches. She’s gone out in 10 of the last 11 first rounds she’s played at majors.
Meanwhile, the mid-match retirements have rolled up. The women’s tour doesn’t keep statistics on how many matches players quit, but 42 must be a record. By far.
And Alexandra Stevenson and her mother continue to plod on.