Has anyone else read this book? I bought it for 25 pence on eBay and I am only half way through it but have really enjoyed it so far. It's about tennis after the Open Era and there are a few chapters on certain players and it's a real eye opener. I have just read the chapter on Chris and it was a real insight into what she was like and the chapter on Borg was fascinating. There is a large section about Jennifer when she was the teen phenom and all the dealings her father did and how Jennifer rebelled and just acted like a teenager. He is also quite scathing about BJK - admiring her leadership but he also says she thinks she was extemely selfish too and as much as she did for the tour, her own interests were always right up there too. There's a chapter on Martina I have not read yet but in his authors notes at the beginning he says 'Finally, many readers may feel that I am overly kind to such friends as Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Boris Becker and overly critical of people I merely know. such as Martina Navratliova and Bjorn Borg. But that's how it works in this kind of book, and that's what makes it my book. An opinion can be a terrible thing to have'
I can't wait for the Martina chapter now!
Also there are a lot of behind the scenes on the tour kind of stories but it is not as bitchy and trashy as 'Ladies of the Court'. The Chrissie chapter talks about how she was not the girl next door as she was portrayed which is common knowledge (after the 1986 Wimbledon 6-4 third set semi loss to Martina, in the press conference afterwards Martina says she had tears in her eyes during the last game of the match thinking about how nice it would be if Chris got one more Wimbledon and Chris just says 'Oh yeah?' very dryly and the press ate it up because it was a rare spontaneous reaction from Chris) but it explains more about her than usual and made her seem a bit more human and not just the Ice Maiden.
There are a few gossipy stories though and this is one I have read in the Chrissie chapter which people might know. Does anyone know who the player involved could be?
At the time, many of the top women players were lesbians. The ethic of this older generation was fiercely professional, and Evert quickly learned that a pecking order existed in the women's game. She would have to learn to play politics with the best of them in order to protect her own interests. I'll tell one sad and weird story to illustrate the degree to which personal and sexual politics play a part in women's tennis a little more often than they should, and how no top woman player can steer clear of them and still be an active force in the establishment that runs the game.
Andrea Jaeger, the gifted prodigy, reached five Grand Slam semifinals and the Wimbledon final by the time she reached 18. We were friends, and I was sorry to see her become something of a lost soul on the tour - a rebellious, discontented, confused pilgrim whose increasingly erratic behaviour sent silent but powerful shock waves through the women's tennis establishment. I liked Andrea's punk rebel-without-a-pause attitude, her fire as a competitor, and her taste in dirt bikes. I didn't even mind that she took to carrying a switchblade. Shoot, I was 18 once too.
But the WTA was alarmed by her behaviour and the image she projected. The knife proved to be a serious problem, as did the incident in which Andrea shoved another woman, Renee Blount, up against a locker. Jaeger was not only a loose cannon but a top player and potential superstar, a combination that made the WTA establishment (which is dominated by both active and retired players) really edgy. It all came to a head shortly after a shoulder injury sidelined Jaeger for good. When a top player with whom Jaeger had a close friendship suddenly took up with a tour official who happened to be one of Evert's friends, Jaeger sensed she was suddenly getting the cold shoulder from both parties.
Feeling rejected, Jaeger became embroiled in a series of confrontations with her former friend, and other top women on the Tour. The other women closed ranks and, Jaeger said, encouraged her to embark on a lesbian relationship with another player, apparently as part of their damage-control strategy. This really upset Jaeger, who denied having any lesbian inclinations. Jaeger had always admired Evert, and she was crushed by what she described as Evert's complicity in this crude ploy. Feeling betrayed on all fronts, Jaeger caused a fair bit of trouble before it all got sorted out. Among other things, this episode illustrated the dangers of exposing a child who may have been wrestling with typical problems of gender confusion to an atmosphere supercharged with sexual ambiguity and politics.
Whether that's true or not we don't know but going by the rest of the book I don't think he is trying to put in a lot of trashy tales like Ladies of the Court and would only put it in if he thought it was true. I still have about halfway to go in the book but I would really recommend it, especially if you can pick it up cheap like me
And for anyone wanting to learn more about players like Bjorn, Chris, Evonne, Martina, John and Jimmy it has great insights into them as people.