The Courts of Babylon by Peter Bodo - Highly Recommended - Billie Jean extracts added - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old Aug 27th, 2004, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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The Courts of Babylon by Peter Bodo - Highly Recommended - Billie Jean extracts added

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?

Quote:
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.



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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old Aug 27th, 2004, 08:57 PM
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Yes, it's a great book. I absolutely love "Martina of Starwood" where he makes fun of Navratilova's "celebrity" tendency to jump on bandwagons and sometimes make controversial statements just for the sake of making them. But yes, his bias shows when he talks about Becker and Goolagong.

Best left-right combination by a German (and that includes Max Schmeling): Steffi Graf. All she did in 1987 was knock Navratilova out of #1 and try to knock Evert out of the sport. (Mike Lupica in "The Best and Worst of Tennis in 1987", World Tennis)

"A couple of years ago, we nicknamed Steffi Graf's forehand 'Jaws'. And that music would go perfectly when she starts running in to the net, swarming on that little ball." (JoAnne Russell, during the 1988 Wimbledon final between Graf and Navratilova)
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old Aug 27th, 2004, 08:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raquel

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?
I wonder if it was Wendy Turnbull. In "Ladies of the Court" Jaeger is quoted as dismissing the rumors about her alleged relationship with Turnbull.

Best left-right combination by a German (and that includes Max Schmeling): Steffi Graf. All she did in 1987 was knock Navratilova out of #1 and try to knock Evert out of the sport. (Mike Lupica in "The Best and Worst of Tennis in 1987", World Tennis)

"A couple of years ago, we nicknamed Steffi Graf's forehand 'Jaws'. And that music would go perfectly when she starts running in to the net, swarming on that little ball." (JoAnne Russell, during the 1988 Wimbledon final between Graf and Navratilova)
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old Aug 27th, 2004, 09:17 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samn
Yes, it's a great book. I absolutely love "Martina of Starwood" where he makes fun of Navratilova's "celebrity" tendency to jump on bandwagons and sometimes make controversial statements just for the sake of making them. But yes, his bias shows when he talks about Becker and Goolagong.
Well I have not read the Boris and Martina chapters yet but in the Evonne chapter he was clearly good friends with her which he explains and at least he admits at the beginning that this was how the book was going to be.

The chapter on Evonne was good. The coach who found her and then was her mentor for many years seemed to have a very controlling influence on her and his reaction to her engagement was a little bit hard to understand. The author explains perhaps why he reacted like that, but did he expect Evonne to just be a tennis machine almost with no normal relationships?

Also it was great to read how Evonne was loved by the Hollywood set and was friends with Liza Minnelli and was at parties filled with celebrities at Liza's house. You would maybe expect Chris to have that kind of lifestyle rather than Evonne. He was very honest about what he thought of Evonne's new friends when she moved house saying Evonne and her husband were rather naive when making friends with people. It was clear that Evonne was not as naive and country girl as she seemed though when it came to business deals.


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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old Aug 27th, 2004, 10:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samn
I wonder if it was Wendy Turnbull. In "Ladies of the Court" Jaeger is quoted as dismissing the rumors about her alleged relationship with Turnbull.

Yes, I reckon it is Wendy Turnbull. I believe she was in a relationship with Ana Leaird, a tour official and one of Chris' best friends.
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old Aug 27th, 2004, 10:21 PM
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Bodo moved beyond just being biased when he trashed Martina in his book. It seemed to me he just wanted to make her look as bad as was humanly possible. So the end result was just a very vicious & nasty diatribe. But at least he was honest about his feelings in the intro - I give him credit for that - and then again, he never really liked her anyway so what else could you expect...
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old Aug 27th, 2004, 10:45 PM
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Absolutely it is Wendy Turnbull. Just join the dots. In Pam Shriver's book she describes (somewhat gratuitously) a visit to the Florida home which Wendy Turnbull and Ana Leaird "share". In Chris Evert's autobiography, Ana Leaird is her best friend in high school. Ana Leaird was a tour official in the 80's.

This is maybe my 5th post on this board, and they all seem to be about tennis playing lesbians - do you think I have some issues?!!!!
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old Aug 28th, 2004, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zummi
Bodo moved beyond just being biased when he trashed Martina in his book. It seemed to me he just wanted to make her look as bad as was humanly possible. So the end result was just a very vicious & nasty diatribe. But at least he was honest about his feelings in the intro - I give him credit for that - and then again, he never really liked her anyway so what else could you expect...
Really? It's been years since I read the book, so I only remember Bodo making fun of Martina for being what is often called a "limousine liberal". I seem to recall some rather nice compliments about her game, though. Didn't he mention the 1979 Colgate final against Austin as an example to prove his point that when Martina was on her game she was unbeatable?

Hmm, looks like I have to read the book again sometime. Yes, compared to his treatment of Evert, Navratilova did get a bit of a raw deal, but I think that might also be tied in with their public personas. I'm also wondering if I should be fuming over his statement that Graf didn't know how to play tennis

Best left-right combination by a German (and that includes Max Schmeling): Steffi Graf. All she did in 1987 was knock Navratilova out of #1 and try to knock Evert out of the sport. (Mike Lupica in "The Best and Worst of Tennis in 1987", World Tennis)

"A couple of years ago, we nicknamed Steffi Graf's forehand 'Jaws'. And that music would go perfectly when she starts running in to the net, swarming on that little ball." (JoAnne Russell, during the 1988 Wimbledon final between Graf and Navratilova)
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old Aug 28th, 2004, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Adammco
This is maybe my 5th post on this board, and they all seem to be about tennis playing lesbians - do you think I have some issues?!!!!
This reminds me of a "Golden Girls" episode where two women (Blanche and Rose, I think) are hugging when the old woman walks in on them, and after taking a look at the two of them, quips: "What the hell is this? Wimbledon?"

Best left-right combination by a German (and that includes Max Schmeling): Steffi Graf. All she did in 1987 was knock Navratilova out of #1 and try to knock Evert out of the sport. (Mike Lupica in "The Best and Worst of Tennis in 1987", World Tennis)

"A couple of years ago, we nicknamed Steffi Graf's forehand 'Jaws'. And that music would go perfectly when she starts running in to the net, swarming on that little ball." (JoAnne Russell, during the 1988 Wimbledon final between Graf and Navratilova)
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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2004, 07:24 PM
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Great book, but the bias is annoying. Then again as stated he recognises it anyway so at least it isnt setting itself up to be a fair balanced overview of tennis in the open era, more one guy's take on it all. I have read it loads of times, much more than Ladies of The Court, much more informative.

Just read Dan Maskells autobiography, a dull dull read. Quite an unsubtle dislike of american commentary too, though from what I have seen of his own commentary at times he can be pretty annoying himself. After MArtina pauses while the crowd are shouting encouragement at wimbledon "in other words a few polite come on chris etc) he comes out with the gem "The crowd bothering MArtina there as she prepares to serve" in such an authoritative tone as if to make us feel we are being told something of the utmost importance.Well DUH, if that isn't obvious commentary i dont know what is. His bio is not as full of tennis tidbits as I hoped.

Speaking of commentaries, the Spanish have got to be the worst of all in terms of bias and talking drivel for the sake of it. German sounds best to me as they hardly seem to talk at all!
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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2004, 07:45 PM
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French commentary is the pits. They systematically talk over the points and when two men are commentating on a women's match half of what they say has nothing to do with the match, a quarter has to do with the appearance and the remaining quarter is a mix of stating the bleeding obvious or reading the stats on the screen. It is DIRE.

Traits Gandhi considered the most spiritually perilous to humanity.
*Wealth without Work * Pleasure without Conscience

*Science without Humanity *Knowledge without Character

*Politics without Principle *Commerce without Morality

*Worship without Sacrifice
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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2004, 07:53 PM
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woah sounds fab there in France...
I got the French Open 86 all in italian...i swear the ONE guy never stops talking thorough the WHOLE MATCH.

In Spain, anything the spanish do is wonderful, if they lose its always because of some other reason, never the opponent. One good thing about the UK is that whenever Tim plays its clear they want him to win but are always generous to the other player. They dont mind criticising Tim either.
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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2004, 08:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesuk

Just read Dan Maskells autobiography, a dull dull read. Quite an unsubtle dislike of american commentary too, though from what I have seen of his own commentary at times he can be pretty annoying himself. After MArtina pauses while the crowd are shouting encouragement at wimbledon "in other words a few polite come on chris etc) he comes out with the gem "The crowd bothering MArtina there as she prepares to serve" in such an authoritative tone as if to make us feel we are being told something of the utmost importance.Well DUH, if that isn't obvious commentary i dont know what is. His bio is not as full of tennis tidbits as I hoped.
No list of bad bad commentators can be complete without a mention of the horrendous John Barrett. If I hear "That's simply marvellous! I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it on Centre Court before!" one more time, I'll be forced to take out a contract on him. Only Barry Mackay surpasses the tiresome Barrett in his ability to come up with the most idiotic cliches.

Best left-right combination by a German (and that includes Max Schmeling): Steffi Graf. All she did in 1987 was knock Navratilova out of #1 and try to knock Evert out of the sport. (Mike Lupica in "The Best and Worst of Tennis in 1987", World Tennis)

"A couple of years ago, we nicknamed Steffi Graf's forehand 'Jaws'. And that music would go perfectly when she starts running in to the net, swarming on that little ball." (JoAnne Russell, during the 1988 Wimbledon final between Graf and Navratilova)
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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2004, 08:18 PM
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The worst of all is this unctuous and utterly revolting post-match interviewer called Nelson Montfort who is so oily you could fry chips on him all night. Always very matter of fact and technical when interviewing the male players, he becomes this grotesque cariacture of the legendary gallic charm ,when interviewing the women, talking about looks, dresses, outside interests, etc. He doesn't seem to realise that these women are wealthy, successful, multicultural, professional athletes who have no interest in discussing their dresses and how they spend their free time with a man with a severe middle age life-crisis who is making a total prick of himself.
I can't stand watching him; he makes my blood boil.

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*Wealth without Work * Pleasure without Conscience

*Science without Humanity *Knowledge without Character

*Politics without Principle *Commerce without Morality

*Worship without Sacrifice
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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2004, 08:39 PM
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hehehehe those posts made me laugh, glad to see Im not the only one who gets worked up at this!!

That middle aged guy , is he often at the French open doing tv interviews? I remember one guy there after Seles beat Hingis in 98 giving Seles flowers and almost having an orgasm during the interview how happy he was that she had won..it was quite strange. But it was ok for me as i was elated too that Seles had won!!!

John BArret. uurrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhgggg I HATE the guy...although in recent years I tolerate him more, maybe becuase they USE him less!!!!!

One thing I really hated about him was his tendency to show off his memory of great players and great shots, making comparisons all the time with modern players and old ones. Thats fine but from him it smelled of "look at how much I know" . He ruins moments for me. One time when some bloke runs into a chair umpire at wimbledon, maybe becker, he IMMEDIATELY comes out with "And that recalls the famous moment when X player did the same in X year" instead of just first enjoying the damn moment.
Also when Martina served underam....what a shocking moment!!!!! The first thing HE says is "Just like Chang against Lendl all those years ago in that match, it unsettled Ivan and chang ended up winning the match....blah blah" RIGHT after she does it....he is saying all that crap while I am just thinking WOW HAS SHE REALLY JUST DONE THAT? IN A FINAL ON MATCH POINT??WOW!! Comparison later would have been fine, but I like commentators who enjoy the moment more and who dont show off!!
Listening to the american trio of Bud collins Jo Russlel and some other guy is always fun, like during the last few games of the first set and first few games of the second during the wimbledon final of 85, they are really enjoying the match and the great shots!
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