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I seem to remember a post on this Russian player a while ago, but can't come up with the thread, so am starting a new one. Any information on this player? Apparently she was very good, and had a great deal of potential, but was pulled off the tour in the mid-70s by the Soviets.

 

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Jeff, this is from a really old thread about Chmyreva. I always remembered the story after reading it. Here's the full thread - http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=4478

# # #<br /> Thechampion that tennis lost<br /> <br />The collapse of communism came too late to save Russian tennis prodigy NATALIA CHMYREVA from a tragic fate. NATALIA BYKANOVA tells how the Soviet Union destroyed one of its finest.

“No,” she said the first time I called her. “Let bygones be bygones. Everything is nearly forgotten. I live a very peaceful and quiet life.”<br /> Natalia Chmyreva, the most promising young player of the mid 1970’s, was polite but did not want to talk to the press. She hasn’t given an interview since her 25th birthday, when she quit the sport with not half of her talent realized.<br /> She surrendered the third time I called her. “You can come if you need it so badly”, she said at last.<br /> The former Soviet champion lives in Moscow in a three-room apartment together with her parents and a black cat named Musia. She does not attend any tennis tournaments and even the Kremlin Cup men’s tournament held in Moscow each November fails to draw her attention. “I’m overfed with tennis,” said Natasha “Once it made me the happiest person and once it made me the most miserable.” <br /> “Natasha never fitted into our system,” claims Michael Chesalov, her former hitting partner. “Unlike the disciplined Olga Morozova, Natasha could never keep within the bounds.” In 1980, having won all the winter domestic tournaments, Natasha was expelled from the USSR Federation Cup team and dared to ask the sports bosses why.<br /> “What did you do in Mexico last year?” she heard in reply.<br /> “Just won the World Student Games,” answered the champion.<br /> “What did you do there?” The tone of questioning became threatening. Natasha slammed the door. Her disqualification lasted a whole year. <br /> Few people openly supported Chmyreva at that time. They were afraid that they would lose the opportunity to play abroad if they put in a word for an unwanted person. <br /> Chmyreva was not the only Soviet athlete that was punished with disqualification for spending time with western friends at a western disco. At that time, Russians abroad had to live only in groups, so that everybody was easy to spot. Otherwise one had to write a report detailing where and with whom one spent time.<br /> Natasha never wrote such reports. She only wrote about her victories and impressions of tournaments she participated in.<br /> To enter the journalism department of Moscow University, one had to produce at least five published pieces to the examining commission. Chmyreva became a student in 1975 and graduated in 1985, spending twice as much time as one needed for the degree because of tennis. These ten years included the rise and fall of the great Soviet tennis hope. <br /> The rise of the young Muscovite was as swift as her game. Her mother, Svetlana Sevastianova, chief and coach of the “Dynamo” tennis club in Moscow, and her father Yuri Chmyrev, track and field coach, dreamed of making a world star out of their daughter from the time she was seven. All the family talks centered around Natashas great future. <br /> Svetlana had her own definite approach to her child’s upbringing. “We didn’t want our daughter to have any complexes. She was the best. Why shouldn’t she know it and behave accordingly, like a queen of tennis?” <br /> All this, combined with a lively emotional nature, resulted in some extraordinary gestures from Natasha. “She never chose her words and could thus hurt somebody unconsciously,” remembers a former rival. <br /> Chmyreva could carelessly abuse an umpire, or change her shirt without going to the locker room. She was the first to shock conservative Moscow audiences by playing without a bra and it was Chmyreva who introduced to Russia a new on-court hairstyle: she tied up her loose red hair with a band like an American Indian.<br /> “What a controversial person you are,” Ted Tinling used to say to her, and, fittingly, he always used contrasting colours when making Natasha’s dresses: white and black, pink and black, light blue and black. Natasha keeps them all washed, ironed and untouched in a wardrobe. <br /> Chmyreva brandished an athletic game more often seen in men’s tennis and her rare sense of the ball meant that she had the ability to play any stroke. On hard courts it was practically impossible to stop her. A hurricane. <br /> Natasha was used to risk, since she spent most of her childhood climbing trees and jumping from garage roofs. On court, she always rushed forward, enjoying the taste of risky flight that the serve-volley game gave her. <br /> The famous theoretician of Soviet tennis, Professor Semen Beltis-Geiman, patronized Natasha. To him, Chmyreva was the personification of what he considered the ideal tennis player.<br /> The professor introduced a new scoring system in domestic junior tournaments in the ‘70’s. For the volley or service winner, the umpire would award two points instead of one. That’s how he tried to stimulate an active, aggressive game. For the two years that this system was functioning, it took Natasha not more than several minutes to beat her opponents. <br /> With the rise of Chris Evert, tennis fashion changed totally. Most of the newcomers imitated her style, but not Chmyreva. At a World Team tennis event in 1977, she beat Evert twice, signaling a wider victory for the adventurous player over the mechanical baseliner. In 1975, a 19-year-old Martina Navratilova did not return to Czechoslovakia after an American tour. Natasha always returned. “My parents and friends live in the Soviet Union, I have too many roots in this country,” Chmyreva replied to those who asked her why she didn’t defect. Natasha had more complexes than she thought. <br /> Chmyreva returned to the USSR after that World Team Tennis event in 1977, knowing fairly well that it was her last time in the United States. Preparing for the 1980 Olympic Games, Soviet rulers forbade Soviet athletes from participating in competitions in which athletes from the Republic of South Africa took part. The USSR were afraid that black African nations would boycott the Games. But as it happened, it was Africa that was fully represented in Moscow. The whole civilized world ignored the 22nd century Olympiad because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. <br /> Pre-Olympic prohibition closed the world arena to Soviet players, as practically every tournament had players from South Africa. At the last tournament played by Soviets abroad, the situation turned dramatic. <br /> “I don’t want to recall it. I felt very much ashamed,” said Natasha. Olga Morozova agreed to talk about it. <br /> “It was in Washington in the first round of doubles competition that we had opponents from South Africa. We couldn’t play and had to think of an excuse. So we finally said that Natasha had stomach troubles and skipped the match. In the singles, Natasha had a South African opponent in the second round. She didn’t play. At press conferences we were bombarded with questions and had to lie. Natasha couldn’t stand it and got very nervous because of the necessity to lie all the time.”<br /> When the Iron Curtain slammed down shut behind her, the 18-year-old Chmyreva was ranked 13th in the world. She never got over this step. Having won by that time all the world junior tournaments except the French Open, which she was never sent to, holding two junior Wimbledon crowns and beating half the top 10 world players, she was shot down at the start of her flight and never recovered from the blow. The steeper the flight, the more painful the fall.<br /> Morozova was sceptical when assessing the potential of her former opponent.<br />“Natasha had a lack of self-control and an unbalanced character,” said Olga. “It’s hard for me to say whether she could have achieved more or not. Her character could lead her to failure.”<br /> But the unbalanced Chmyreva at the age of 15 beat the very balanced Morozova right after her great success at Wimbledon ’74, where Olga lost only to Evert in the final. Three years later, Natasha won two matches against Chris, the iron lady of tennis.<br /> Alexander Bogomolov, Natasha’s former mixed partner, thinks differently:<br />“Chmyreva became unbalanced only when she understood she was not allowed to have a perspective of her own, due to the country’s policy. She knew she could achieve more and the impossibility of realizing her emotional and physical talents caused stress.”<br /> Soviet officials never displayed generosity when it came to the money sports stars earned. When, for reaching the semi-final of the Virginia Slims of Chicago in ’77 Natasha earned $5000 prizemoney, sports leaders decided that $280 would be more than enough for her. But it wasn’t the final figure, as they kept back the price of living allowances. As a result she had $180 out of her $5000. Very fair arithmetic, isn’t it?<br /> At that time, any talk of prizemoney was considered disgraceful. Russians were all brought up to false morality. Nowadays we reap the fruits of that idiocy.<br /> But when you have a great aim to sustain you, even money is something you forget about. “It was all the same to me to eat a hamburger for lunch or a good piece of beef. The only real thing was the victory,” explained Natasha. <br /> Although Chmyreva was very excitable in her play, her emotions never spread beyond the tennis court. At school she was known more as the best student in English class: she still knows the language perfectly. <br /> “ It seems to me that sometimes emotional behavior on the court was the result of the great desire of her parents to make her a great player,” said Alexander Bogomolov. “The aim to win by any means was set up before the girl and implemented in her mind too early. Children can’t stand such constant pressure and stresses are inevitable. <br /> At 15, Chmyreva won through the qualifying at Wimbledon but wasn’t included in the main draw of the tournament. Englishmen thought that the All England Championships were not child’s play, even if the child won the right to participate. Times change.<br /> In Melbourne at the 1975 Australian Open, Chmyreva reached the semi-finals and on centre court lost a tough match to Martina Navratilova, who was two years older. Most other tennis stars at the time were of mature age and Natasha looked like an infant prodigy among them. <br /> Natasha first felt herself like a beautiful lady and not just an awkward teen at a White House reception. “In 1976 at the Virginia Slims tournament of the best 16 players,” remembers Natasha, “I was welcomed by President Ford. There were luxurious limousines that took us to the White House and a portrait of Jaqueline Kennedy on the wall. Ford shook me by the hand and asked something about Breshnev.” <br />The Soviet leader preferred hockey to tennis and never invited tennis players to Georgevsky Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow. <br /> After 1977, Chmyreva trained with all her might so that she would still be in contention for the top after the Moscow games in 1980. In 1978 she won the championships of the USSR, in 1979 the World Student Games. By the time the Moscow games were over, Chmyreva was only 22 and had time again to conquer world tennis. The term of her disqualification had come to an end. <br /> But at that time, Olga Morozova became the head coach of the USSR national team and at the first coaches’ meeting declared: ”I need Chmyreva only as a hitting partner for the young promising players.” So Chmyreva’s career was ended. <br /> Olga dreamed of creating a teenaged national team which would reach the top of world tennis. The dream came true and her players twice played in the final of the Federation Cup. But not Natasha. At that time there was no other way for Soviet tennis players to participate in pro events abroad other than as a member of the Soviet team.<br /> That was the heaviest blow. It took Chmyreva years to overcome the deep stress caused by the failure of all her hopes and the impossibility of self-realization. The former coach of Andrei Chesnokov, Tatyana Naymko, in discussing the way in which the Soviet tennis system stifled individual talents, remarked very correctly, “We’ll never have our own McEnroe in the Soviet Union”. It is a comment pertinent to Chmyreva’s situation. <br /> So Natasha lives with no great interest for life, reading, watching videos, chatting with friends and never asking, “Who won Wimbledon this year
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you very much. I am extremely intrigued by descriptions of how she played. She almost sounds like a Russian Evonne Goolagong. I wonder if there's any footage of her playing in existence.
 

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Alfa,

I posted the following in Preacherfan's Great Careers that Never Happened Thread:

Chymreva would have had a great career had it not been for the Soviet Union's refusal to allow her to play. I saw her dominate Chris Evert in a World Team Tennis match. The set score was relatively close, but Chris was never in it. Chymreva dominated the set with her forehand and showed some fine net play as well. I spoke with Olga Morozova about Chymreva in the early 1990s, and Olga had little to say about her. You sensed they probably were not the best of friends. Regardless, Olga said the last she had heard of Chymreva, she was ill and not doing well. I believe The Boiled Egg may have posted an article about Chymreva that was very sad to read. At one point, Evert thought Chymreva might be her biggest challenge for the top spot in the game.

Now to comment on the article and your thoughts of her as a Goolagong:

I really saw no resemblance to Goolagong, certainly not in the way she played the game and not even in her demeanor.

As for the article, it certainly paints Morozova in a bad light. It was clear they were not friends, but I hate to think that Olga would have denied opportunity to Chymreva, even if there was bad blood between them. One comment Olga made was true: Just how far would Chymreva have gone: she had loads of talent and power, but there were indications that she might not manage consistency. Perhaps she would have been a predecessor to today's Safin!

Her game was lovely. She had the ability to boom her groundstrokes with pretty good topspin and follow them to the net for easy volleys. Her serve was hard and accurate. Oddly enough, I don't remember the doubles score of that match in Plains, or even who won. Chymreva may have won another set that season over Chris in WTT; I can't recall and no longer have the results.

Regardless, as I've always maintained, hers was one of the sad and bitter stories from the Soviet era.
 

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Olga had been around for over a decade and was almost 28 when the Soviets pulled the plug on international competition for their players and, although she remained in the lower reaches of the top 10, had not done as well in 75 or 76 as she had in 74. Not long after the ban was enforced, Olga fell pregnant and daughter Katja was born in 78. Her results in the Fed Cup after the birth suggest she was still top 10 material but all in all I'm not sure that her career suffered too much. Chmyreva was the real victim. I never saw her play but the feisty and aggressive style described in the article Raquel posted above and confirmed by Jem (thanks to both of you) sounds vaguely reminiscent of Navratilova.
 

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Andy,

Just to clarify. She really didn't remind me so much of Navratilova. She
was much more a baseliner, with a strong all-court game. Did you ever see Sylvia Hanika play? In a way, Chymreva was similar, although perhaps she didn't play with the extreme topspin. Had Chymreva managed to stick around, I think she wuold have been one of the first transition players from the old school to today's game of baseline bashing. Also, I don't know Chymreva's stats, but she struck me as a bigger girl than Navratilova. It's too bad there's no film of her anywhere.
 

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Jem said:
Andy,

Just to clarify. She really didn't remind me so much of Navratilova. She
was much more a baseliner, with a strong all-court game. Did you ever see Sylvia Hanika play? In a way, Chymreva was similar, although perhaps she didn't play with the extreme topspin. Had Chymreva managed to stick around, I think she wuold have been one of the first transition players from the old school to today's game of baseline bashing. Also, I don't know Chymreva's stats, but she struck me as a bigger girl than Navratilova. It's too bad there's no film of her anywhere.
Thanks Jem. It's clearer now! Sylvia H. was quite a tough cookie around 79-82, wasn't she.
 

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Natalia had a good topspin serve. She beat Chris Evert twice in 1977, at an exhibition match and then at WTT, which is no mean feat! She lost to Austin, however, on clay at the Federation Cup in Spain in 1979.
 

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I know in a Chris Evert autobiography 'Chrissie' she makes mention that Natasha had a pretty bad temper but also her mother used to go into tirades at her daughter after matches as well. It seems Natasha could never get any peace during her tennis career and is probably making up for it now.
 

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It's such a sad story to think a world famous athlete could be told 'you will no longer be allowed to compete'! And did morozova just go along with it?
 

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It's such a sad story to think a world famous athlete could be told 'you will no longer be allowed to compete'! And did morozova just go along with it?
Olga's role in this seems murky. Maybe there was some friction with the brash Natasha needling Olga-or perhaps Morozova simply had no choice in the matter?

1980 witnessed the tit-for tat between the USSR and the United States too, so a curtain came down on all the Soviets. Perhaps it was all Olga could do to salvage what she could and pave the way for those like Natasha Zvereva.

Once the communist federations saw players could earn cold hard cash they tended to loosen the restrictions.
 

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She shocked supposedly sophisticated Muscovites by playing at a local tournament without wearing a bra.
[email protected]

There was an Eastern bloc player many years earlier (perhaps it was even Olga Morozova) who once played without panties or underwear of any sort.
 

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As far as I recall, the situation between Morozova and Chymreva was one of those generation dynamics that you often got in the Eastern Bloc, like with the Suks (Sukovas) in relation to Martina in Czechoslovakia. I think that Natasha's parents, or at least one of them, was a tennis coach who had run-ins with a younger Olga Morozova. So when Olga's time came, she sort of took it out on Natasha. I am oversimplifying things, but I believe there was no love lost on the part of Olga for Natasha because of what Olga had suffered before at the hands of Natasha's parent(s).

I believe it was Olga Morozova who once did not wear panties... and possibly included not just a match, but, what was deemed even worse, the trophy presentation...
 

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Thanks to Raquel for identifying this article many years ago in 2005. I do not know the original publication date. The site (link below) posted the article in 2014.

The Champion That Tennis Lost | Tennis Buzz

The champion that tennis lost

June 7, 2014


By Natalia Bykanova

“No,” she said the first time I called her. “Let bygones be bygones. Everything is nearly forgotten. I live a very peaceful and quiet life.”

Natalia Chmyreva, the most promising young player of the mid 1970’s, was polite but did not want to talk to the press. She hasn’t given an interview since her 25th birthday, when she quit the sport with not half of her talent realized.
She surrendered the third time I called her. “You can come if you need it so badly”, she said at last.
The former Soviet champion lives in Moscow in a three-room apartment together with her parents and a black cat named Musia. She does not attend any tennis tournaments and even the Kremlin Cup men’s tournament held in Moscow each November fails to draw her attention. “I’m overfed with tennis,” said Natasha “Once it made me the happiest person and once it made me the most miserable.”

“Natasha never fitted into our system,” claims Michael Chesalov, her former hitting partner. “Unlike the disciplined Olga Morozova, Natasha could never keep within the bounds.” In 1980, having won all the winter domestic tournaments, Natasha was expelled from the USSR Federation Cup team and dared to ask the sports bosses why.
“What did you do in Mexico last year?” she heard in reply.
“Just won the World Student Games,” answered the champion.
“What did you do there?” The tone of questioning became threatening. Natasha slammed the door. Her disqualification lasted a whole year.

Few people openly supported Chmyreva at that time. They were afraid that they would lose the opportunity to play abroad if they put in a word for an unwanted person.

Chmyreva was not the only Soviet athlete that was punished with disqualification for spending time with western friends at a western disco. At that time, Russians abroad had to live only in groups, so that everybody was easy to spot. Otherwise one had to write a report detailing where and with whom one spent time. Natasha never wrote such reports. She only wrote about her victories and impressions of tournaments she participated in.

To enter the journalism department of Moscow University, one had to produce at least five published pieces to the examining commission. Chmyreva became a student in 1975 and graduated in 1985, spending twice as much time as one needed for the degree because of tennis. These ten years included the rise and fall of the great Soviet tennis hope.

The rise of the young Muscovite was as swift as her game. Her mother, Svetlana Sevastianova, chief and coach of the “Dynamo” tennis club in Moscow, and her father Yuri Chmyrev, track and field coach, dreamed of making a world star out of their daughter from the time she was seven. All the family talks centered around Natasha’s great future.

Svetlana had her own definite approach to her child’s upbringing. “We didn’t want our daughter to have any complexes. She was the best. Why shouldn’t she know it and behave accordingly, like a queen of tennis?”

All this, combined with a lively emotional nature, resulted in some extraordinary gestures from Natasha. “She never chose her words and could thus hurt somebody unconsciously,” remembers a former rival. Chmyreva could carelessly abuse an umpire, or change her shirt without going to the locker room. She was the first to shock conservative Moscow audiences by playing without a bra and it was Chmyreva who introduced to Russia a new on-court hairstyle: she tied up her loose red hair with a band like an American Indian.

“What a controversial person you are,” Ted Tinling used to say to her, and, fittingly, he always used contrasting colours when making Natasha’s dresses: white and black, pink and black, light blue and black. Natasha keeps them all washed, ironed and untouched in a wardrobe.

Chmyreva brandished an athletic game more often seen in men’s tennis and her rare sense of the ball meant that she had the ability to play any stroke. On hard courts it was practically impossible to stop her. A hurricane.

Natasha was used to risk, since she spent most of her childhood climbing trees and jumping from garage roofs. On court, she always rushed forward, enjoying the taste of risky flight that the serve-volley game gave her. The famous theoretician of Soviet tennis, Professor Semen Beltis-Geiman, patronized Natasha. To him, Chmyreva was the personification of what he considered the ideal tennis player.
The professor introduced a new scoring system in domestic junior tournaments in the ‘70’s. For the volley or service winner, the umpire would award two points instead of one. That’s how he tried to stimulate an active, aggressive game. For the two years that this system was functioning, it took Natasha not more than several minutes to beat her opponents.

With the rise of Chris Evert, tennis fashion changed totally. Most of the newcomers imitated her style, but not Chmyreva. At a World Team tennis event in 1977, she beat Evert twice, signaling a wider victory for the adventurous player over the mechanical baseliner. In 1975, a 19-year-old Martina Navratilova did not return to Czechoslovakia after an American tour. Natasha always returned. “My parents and friends live in the Soviet Union, I have too many roots in this country,” Chmyreva replied to those who asked her why she didn’t defect. Natasha had more complexes than she thought.

Chmyreva returned to the USSR after that World Team Tennis event in 1977, knowing fairly well that it was her last time in the United States. Preparing for the 1980 Olympic Games, Soviet rulers forbade Soviet athletes from participating in competitions in which athletes from the Republic of South Africa took part. The USSR were afraid that black African nations would boycott the Games. But as it happened, it was Africa that was fully represented in Moscow. The whole civilized world ignored the 22nd century Olympiad because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Pre-Olympic prohibition closed the world arena to Soviet players, as practically every tournament had players from South Africa. At the last tournament played by Soviets abroad, the situation turned dramatic.

“I don’t want to recall it. I felt very much ashamed,” said Natasha. Olga Morozova agreed to talk about it. “It was in Washington in the first round of doubles competition that we had opponents from South Africa. We couldn’t play and had to think of an excuse. So we finally said that Natasha had stomach troubles and skipped the match. In the singles, Natasha had a South African opponent in the second round. She didn’t play. At press conferences we were bombarded with questions and had to lie. Natasha couldn’t stand it and got very nervous because of the necessity to lie all the time.”

When the Iron Curtain slammed down shut behind her, the 18-year-old Chmyreva was ranked 13th in the world. She never got over this step. Having won by that time all the world junior tournaments except the French Open, which she was never sent to, holding two junior Wimbledon crowns and beating half the top 10 world players, she was shot down at the start of her flight and never recovered from the blow. The steeper the flight, the more painful the fall.

Morozova was sceptical when assessing the potential of her former opponent. “Natasha had a lack of self-control and an unbalanced character,” said Olga. “It’s hard for me to say whether she could have achieved more or not. Her character could lead her to failure.”

But the unbalanced Chmyreva at the age of 15 beat the very balanced Morozova right after her great success at Wimbledon ’74, where Olga lost only to Evert in the final. Three years later, Natasha won two matches against Chris, the iron lady of tennis.

Alexander Bogomolov, Natasha’s former mixed partner, thinks differently: “Chmyreva became unbalanced only when she understood she was not allowed to have a perspective of her own, due to the country’s policy. She knew she could achieve more and the impossibility of realizing her emotional and physical talents caused stress.”

Soviet officials never displayed generosity when it came to the money sports stars earned. When, for reaching the semi-final of the Virginia Slims of Chicago in ’77 Natasha earned $5000 prizemoney, sports leaders decided that $280 would be more than enough for her. But it wasn’t the final figure, as they kept back the price of living allowances. As a result she had $180 out of her $5000. Very fair arithmetic, isn’t it? At that time, any talk of prizemoney was considered disgraceful. Russians were all brought up to false morality. Nowadays we reap the fruits of that idiocy. But when you have a great aim to sustain you, even money is something you forget about. “It was all the same to me to eat a hamburger for lunch or a good piece of beef. The only real thing was the victory,” explained Natasha.

Although Chmyreva was very excitable in her play, her emotions never spread beyond the tennis court. At school she was known more as the best student in English class: she still knows the language perfectly. “ It seems to me that sometimes emotional behavior on the court was the result of the great desire of her parents to make her a great player,” said Alexander Bogomolov. “The aim to win by any means was set up before the girl and implemented in her mind too early. Children can’t stand such constant pressure and stresses are inevitable.

At 15, Chmyreva won through the qualifying at Wimbledon but wasn’t included in the main draw of the tournament. Englishmen thought that the All England Championships were not child’s play, even if the child won the right to participate. Times change.

In Melbourne at the 1975 Australian Open, Chmyreva reached the semi-finals and on centre court lost a tough match to Martina Navratilova, who was two years older. Most other tennis stars at the time were of mature age and Natasha looked like an infant prodigy among them.

Natasha first felt herself like a beautiful lady and not just an awkward teen at a White House reception. “In 1976 at the Virginia Slims tournament of the best 16 players,” remembers Natasha, “I was welcomed by President Ford. There were luxurious limousines that took us to the White House and a portrait of Jaqueline Kennedy on the wall. Ford shook me by the hand and asked something about Breshnev.” The Soviet leader preferred hockey to tennis and never invited tennis players to Georgevsky Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow.

After 1977, Chmyreva trained with all her might so that she would still be in contention for the top after the Moscow games in 1980. In 1978 she won the championships of the USSR, in 1979 the World Student Games. By the time the Moscow games were over, Chmyreva was only 22 and had time again to conquer world tennis. The term of her disqualification had come to an end.

But at that time, Olga Morozova became the head coach of the USSR national team and at the first coaches’ meeting declared: ”I need Chmyreva only as a hitting partner for the young promising players.” So Chmyreva’s career was ended.

Olga dreamed of creating a teenaged national team which would reach the top of world tennis. The dream came true and her players twice played in the final of the Federation Cup. But not Natasha. At that time there was no other way for Soviet tennis players to participate in pro events abroad other than as a member of the Soviet team.

That was the heaviest blow. It took Chmyreva years to overcome the deep stress caused by the failure of all her hopes and the impossibility of self-realization. The former coach of Andrei Chesnokov, Tatiana Naumko, in discussing the way in which the Soviet tennis system stifled individual talents, remarked very correctly, “We’ll never have our own McEnroe in the Soviet Union”. It is a comment pertinent to Chmyreva’s situation. So Natasha lives with no great interest for life, reading, watching videos, chatting with friends and never asking, “Who won Wimbledon this year ?”
 

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Apparently she died last year! Rereading her story makes me extremely upset and angry at what totalitarian governments are capable of. The obituary below in Russian does not state a cause of death.


Good bye Natasha. May the next world grant you the peace you were robbed of in this life.
 

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Не стало Натальи ЧМЫРЁВОЙ...

Не стало Натальи ЧМЫРЁВОЙ...

Грустная весть пришла из Москвы. 16 августа на 58-ом году жизни скончалась Заслуженный мастер спорта СССР Наталья Юрьевна ЧМЫРЁВА…

Информация из энциклопедии «Российский теннис» Бориса ФОМЕНКО:

Наталья Юрьевна Чмырёва (р. 28.5. 1958), сильнейшая теннисистка мира среди девушек (1975), тренер, журналист; змс СССР (1991). Выпускница МГУ им. М. Ломоносова. В Т. играет с 7-ми лет; первые тренеры - родители. Выступала за ДСО "Динамо". Лучшие рез-ты в сор-ниях: чемпионка Спар-д народов СССР (1975, 1979) в составе сб. к-ды Москвы. Чемпионка СССР в один., парном р-дах (1978), а также в миксте (1982); финалистка чемп-тов СССР в паре и миксте (1975, 1981). 4-кратная поб-ца Всес. зимн. сор-ний в один. (1978, 1981-82) и смеш. (1978) р-дах. Чемпионка Москвы в один., парном (1979 - зима) и смеш. (1975, 1978 - зима) р-дах. Входила в десятку сильнейших теннисисток СССР (1974-83); лучшее м. - 2-е (1976, 1978). Чемпионка Европы в паре и миксте (1979). Поб-ца откр. чемп-тов Австралии, США (1975) и Уимблд. турнира (1975-76) среди девушек (рекордное достижение для сов. теннисистов). В составе сб. к-ды СССР девушек обл-ца "Кубка Суабо" (1978). Поб-ца Всемирной Универсиады-79 в один. р-де. П/ф откр. чемп-та Австралии (1974) в один. р-де. Ч/ф откр. чемп-та США (1976) в один. р-де и п/ф турнира в Истборне в паре (1976). П/ф турнира "Virginia Slims" (Чикаго; 1976) и уч-ца финального турнира "Virginia Slims" (1976) в один. р-де. Поб-ца Сочин. междунар. турнира в один. и парном р-дах (1974), Летн. (1981) и Зимн. (1979-80, 1982) междунар. турниров в один. р-де; поб-ца Зимн. турнира в паре (1979-80). В составе сб. к-ды СССР (1978-79) провела 12 матчей КФ (9:3); дважды (1978-79) - п/ф этих сор-ний. На корте Н.Ч. отличали активная, наступательная игра по всей площадке, уверенная игра с лета, отменные волевые качества; обладала врожденным "чувством мяча". Тренер ДСО "Динамо" (1985-88) и СДЮШОР № 24 г. Москвы (1990-92).

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