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Thoughts or updates on Gigi?

I like to see her coach the double's game of the WTA tour. I think she can bring innovations to the game and maybe bring college kids into it especially team tennis.
 

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gigi has a website for her real estate business, checked it not long ago, you can select up to 50 properties to view per page - there are 2 properties on the whole site, not a runaway success then

as to tennis, i watched the doubles final at wimbledon on tv and was appalled, but more importantly bored, by the repetitive patern of play throughout. hardly a point varied from the blueprint of the server staying back and exchanging fairly unremarkable, flat drives with the returner crosscourt until an error or the player at the net got an easy interception.

my favourite tennis when i got into the sport in 92 was when gigi, natasha, jana, larissa, helena, martina, pam (u get the idea) where competing on court in whatever team variation. what dynamic, upredictable points they played and i'd be really curious to know their opinions on the game as its played now. personally, i don't think i'll watch a womens doubles match again
 

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gigi has a website for her real estate business, checked it not long ago, you can select up to 50 properties to view per page - there are 2 properties on the whole site, not a runaway success then

as to tennis, i watched the doubles final at wimbledon on tv and was appalled, but more importantly bored, by the repetitive patern of play throughout. hardly a point varied from the blueprint of the server staying back and exchanging fairly unremarkable, flat drives with the returner crosscourt until an error or the player at the net got an easy interception.

my favourite tennis when i got into the sport in 92 was when gigi, natasha, jana, larissa, helena, martina, pam (u get the idea) where competing on court in whatever team variation. what dynamic, upredictable points they played and i'd be really curious to know their opinions on the game as its played now. personally, i don't think i'll watch a womens doubles match again

I think college players make good doubles players because of the team and competitive nature of the NCAA's with some woofing and coordination that comes with up.
 

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Gigi Fernandez

Fernandez remembered for her trademark zeal on the court

Fernandez remembered for her trademark zeal on the court

It's a quick two-hour flight from Gigi Fernandez's current base in Orlando to her homeland of Puerto Rico. Of late, it's a flight she's taken with increasingly frequency.




More than a decade after retiring from professional tennis, Fernandez is devoting the bulk of her time to opening a health and wellness center in Puerto Rico. The 44-year-old Fernandez can't say much about the new venture now, but as was the case with her tennis, she's approaching it with trademark zeal. After leaving Clemson University after one year to play pro tennis in 1983, Fernandez earned a B.A. in psychology from the University of South Florida in 2003 and is currently halfway toward an MBA at Rollins College.



"I'm not the smartest person in my class, but I am the most competitive," said Fernandez just prior to starting her daily one-hour bike ride. "Somehow, I turn everything into a competition. Recently we were studying operations management where you play this game online as a team. I had to be the leader. I have to win. I've never found a situation where being competitive is a detriment."



Certainly competition has marked much of Fernandez's life. Over the course of a 15-year playing career, Fernandez earned 17 Grand Slam doubles titles (14 with Natasha Zvereva). In singles, Fernandez reached as high as 17th in the world rankings, including runs to the semis of Wimbledon and quarterfinals of the U.S. Open. She also holds a pair of Olympic gold medals: doubles titles earned in Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996 with current ESPN and CBS analyst Mary Joe Fernandez. The two medals are front and center on Gigi's desk, along with a car license plate that reads "DBL GLD." By far the most successful tennis player in the history of Puerto Rico, Fernandez was named Puerto Rico's "Female Athlete of the Century" in 1999.



"Winning that first Olympic gold was the most special moment," said Fernandez. "We're in Barcelona, playing the Spanish team, Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. Thousands of fans are screaming. We're up a set and a break and then the King and Queen show up. We lose six games in a row. But we won it."



Much as Fernandez came to relish the cauldron of competition, that wasn't always the case. Through her teens and even into her pro career, she was a moody and undisciplined, prone to erratic habits in diet, training and competition. Very early on the likes of Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver had been struck by her skills. But harnessing such assets as sharp volleys and keen court sense was another matter.



Then came Julie Anthony. A former pro with a doctorate in psychology, Anthony dared wake Fernandez up to what she might accomplish. "I was going to go one way or another and she raised my game and took it to the next level," said Fernandez. "If not for her, I don't know where I'd be."


The pairing with Zvereva rocketed Fernandez even further. The two were an inspired duo, thoroughly nimble at the net, adroit with service returns and often able to raise their playing level at crunch time. Added to this was more than a hint of emotion, propelled to some degree by each player's frustration and fragility in singles. Truly, Fernandez-Zvereva was a case of one plus one equaling three.

These days Fernandez hardly plays tennis, only occasionally joining forces with ex-pro Kathy Rinaldi to conduct clinics and special events for recreational players. But since retiring she has also coached the Puerto Rican Fed Cup team, pro players Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur and the women's team at the University of South Florida. "I don't want to be on the court three hours a day anymore," said Fernandez. "I would play tennis more in Orlando if there was someone to play with. I don't want to play with someone who's playing now, or some hotshot junior who's going to just slap balls around."




Instead, these days Fernandez wakes up at five in the morning and finds herself immersed in schoolwork and her new business venture. Said Fernandez, "I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off." It's a distant cry from the days of life as a pro. Said Fernandez, "I miss waking up in the morning and not having anything to do but sit around all day, watching TV, thinking it was stressful that I had a match to play at night. But then again, I don't miss having to work so hard that I feel like sucking wind. And I really don't miss traveling constantly. I've got eleven nephews and nieces, so I'm catching up for lost time by spending more time with my family."




Joel Drucker is based in Oakland, Calif., and writes for Tennis Magazine and Tennis Channel.

 
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Re: Gigi Fernandez







 

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Re: Gigi Fernandez

Thanks for the article and pics!!! :worship:

Gigi :hearts:

Really miss seeing her and Nat playing doubles together!! :sad:
 

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Here's an article I found about Gigi:

Former tennis star gives back to Volusia
By MICHAEL LEWIS
SHORT AND SWEET

The sawdust was thrown in anger, directly at the umpire.
Nearly two decades ago, when Gigi Fernandez was one of the greatest female doubles players in tennis history, she had a "Serena Williams moment."
No, it wasn't after a foot fault, she recalled with a smile. It was a bad line call, and Fernandez decided to illustrate her displeasure by grabbing a handful of sawdust and throwing it at the man in the chair.
Call it Serena Lite.
"It was OK, though. I knew him and I knew he wouldn't be mad," Fernandez said Saturday. "It was just a little bit of my Latin temper coming out."
Fernandez laughed as she recalled the story. She hasn't had much raise her ire lately.
Last January she moved from Lake Mary to Ormond Beach. Then she had twins five months ago, a boy named Karson and a girl, Madison.
And last week Fernandez moved one step closer to tennis immortality: The 44-year-old was named as a finalist for induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame (she won't find out if she'll be inducted until December.)
In a fantastic career, the native of Puerto Rico won 17 Grand Slam doubles championships, including each of the four Slams at least once. She and Natasha Zvereva are second all-time in Slams won among women's duos (14 as a team), behind only Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver's 20 titles.
Saturday, Fernandez started giving back to her new community, holding two instructional clinics for adults and kids at the Florida Tennis Center.
With her easy smile and calm manner, it's easy to see Fernandez becoming a fixture around the Volusia County courts.
"I love it here," Fernandez said during a break between sessions. "So far I've lived in Miami, Orlando and Tampa. If I'm in Florida, I want to be near the water."
THE HALL CALL
Fernandez has been eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame for six years, so she wasn't necessarily expecting the news to come this year.
"You try not to get your hopes up, but I definitely was thinking about it for a few weeks," Fernandez said. "What's so great is that (Zvereva) and I were nominated as a team."
Fernandez said she'd be the first Puerto Rican female player in the Hall of Fame.
She was a pretty good singles player in the early 1990s, but once she teamed with Zvereva her career really took off. The two had a remarkable run as a team, winning six consecutive Slams, starting with the 1992 French Open through the 1993 Wim-
bledon. After losing at the 1993 U.S. Open, Fernandez and Zvereva won three more titles in the next year.
At one stretch, they had won nine of 11 Grand Slam doubles trophies.
"It was one of those things that as soon as we got together we started winning," Fernandez said. "We just complemented each other's games so well. You hope to get a partner like that, but it doesn't always happen."
Fernandez is just back from this year's U.S. Open, and of course she had an opinion on Serena's tirade at a lineswoman during Williams' semifinal loss.
"The foot fault rule is the most ridiculous rule in tennis, and I think that was a terrible call on Serena," Fernandez said. "It doesn't give you any advantage at all. Serena reacted very strongly in the heat of the moment, and I understand why she did."
Hopefully, Fernandez won't have to deal with any outbursts with the new venture she and the Florida Tennis Center are trying. They're starting an after-school instructional program for kids, hoping to have classes three times a week beginning as soon as October.
Interested parents should call the Florida Tennis Center to arrange evaluations.
"My life is pretty good right now, and if we can help some kids get better, I think it'd be great," Fernandez said.
No word yet if sawdust-throwing will be part of Fernandez's tutoring.
http://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJournalOnline/Sports/Headlines/sptTEN01092009.htm
 

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Thanks for the article it was very interesting indeed. I hope she does go into the Hall of Fame- when you look at her doubles achievements it is extraordinary. She was also a fabulous player to watch!!!!
 

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I don't think this article has been posted on the board. It's a tad dated by now but still interesting...

5 minutes for Gigi

By MICHAEL LEWIS,
The Daytona Beach News Journal
July 10, 2010

Five minutes.

That's all the time Gigi Fernandez has today to talk about her 14-year career, and the life that's led her to induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.

Five minutes? That's barely enough time for an opening sentence for the Puerto Rican native, who now makes her home in Ormond Beach. Five minutes to thank the thousands who have helped her along the way, people like Luis Ayala, her childhood coach in San Juan, and Mary Joe Fernandez, her doubles partner and fellow gold-medal winner at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics?

And how about discussing her pro career, the 17 Grand Slam titles won and her incredible partnership with Natasha Zvereva, with whom she's entering the Hall?

"Actually," Fernandez said, "Natasha and I have five minutes combined. But she said I can have all of her time."

Today is a culmination of a tennis lifetime well lived for the 46-year-old Fernandez, and as she prepared for the moment this week, she admitted she's been stressing a bit.

"I've been losing sleep, and not just because of the twins," she said, referring to son Karson and daughter Madison, who are 15 months old. "I've got a lot of people, about 50, coming to Newport, and I'm worried how I'm going to be able to see all of them and spend time with them. The speech, that'll be the easy part."

Fernandez said the pride in being one of the few Hispanic women in the Tennis Hall of Fame was immense. She had no female tennis role models growing up.

"I grew up in a country where baseball, boxing, basketball were the big things," Fernandez said. "But I got lucky in having great people in my life, who always helped me."

Fernandez had more than luck going for her. Pam Shriver, a Hall of Famer herself who'll be presenting Fernandez and Zvereva today, raved about Fernandez's net play.

"Her volleys, and her ability to intercept balls were just tremendous," Shriver said. "She and Natasha complemented each other perfectly. It's rare to find someone like that who you mesh with so perfectly."

Added Mary Joe Fernandez: "She was a very dynamic player, who had a great sense of when to play each shot. She had such soft hands, too; just an incredible ability to control the ball from any part of the court.

OLYMPICS WERE THE HIGHLIGHT

In reflecting on her career, Fernandez ticked off a few high points that immediately sprang to mind: Getting to play tennis with then-President George H. Bush at Camp David ("we were partners, so of course we won," she laughed.); winning Wimbledon for the first time, in 1993; and more recently, getting a congratulatory letter from the Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuno.

But her favorite moments were the Olympic wins with Mary Joe Fernandez, particularly the first one in Barcelona in '92.

"Grand Slams are nice, but only tennis people are usually aware of those," she said. "All of a sudden, you're playing for a country that you love, with the whole world watching the Olympics, and suddenly you win and people know who you are."

Keeping a low profile since she retired in 1997, Fernandez now runs a company called "Baby Goes Pro," developing interactive DVDs that try to introduce infants to athletics.

Today, though, she steps back into the spotlight to take the ultimate bow for any athlete.

"Being able to see my parents, and my brothers, all of them be there with me for this is an incredible feeling," she said. "You never really think something like this is going to happen."

Five minutes? Gigi Fernandez needs about five hours for this speech.
 

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A Dream Deferred, Almost Too Long

By KAREN CROUSE AUG. 29, 2010. New York Times, Aug 30, 2010, pp. 2

LAKE MARY, Fla. — During a doubles lesson at an Orlando sports club this month, Gigi Fernandez dragged her tennis racket along the service line. She told the women gathered around her to picture the line as the edge of a cliff: they stepped beyond it at their peril.
Fernandez always seemed perfectly positioned on the court, winning 17 Grand Slam doubles titles and reaching No. 1 before retiring in 1997 at age 33. It was only when she tried to have a baby in her 40s that she found herself on the wrong side of the line.
The odds of becoming pregnant plunge for women over 35, but Fernandez, whose grace at the net was often overshadowed by a trigger temper, forged ahead. She was imbued with the world-class athlete’s mind-set that where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Seven unsuccessful fertility treatments later, Fernandez sat with her partner, Jane Geddes, and listened numbly as her doctor said that her eggs were old and that her Hall of Fame tennis career had con tributed to her inability to conceive.


“It was crushing,” Fernandez said, adding, “I felt almost like I wished I would have never played tennis.”

Fernandez’s globe-trotting career made it difficult to sustain a long-term relationship. She met Geddes, four years older and an 11-time winner on the L.P.G.A. Tour, the year she retired.

It was a case of opposites attracting. Geddes’s optimistic and easygoing demeanor smoothes Fernandez’s jagged edges. And Fernandez’s passionate nature makes life more vibrant for Geddes, who has degrees in criminology and law and works for the L.P.G.A. Tour. They had been a couple for five years when they decided to have a child, neither dreaming such an elemental desire would become such a nightmare.

“As an athlete, you have this attitude, ‘I can do anything with my body,’ ” Fernandez said. “That’s how you think. So your biological clock is ticking, but you’re in denial.”

Fernandez tells her tennis students to always play the
percentages. It is sound advice in matters of reproduction, too.

Dr. David L. Keefe, the chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University Langone Medical Center, said natural fertility rates for women declined gradually from ages 35 to 38 and more precipitously after that.
In a telephone interview, Keefe, who did not treat Fernandez, said he would advise professional athletes in their early 20s to consider freezing their eggs.
Fernandez said: “I would not have done that because I was so psychotic about my body. I would have never risked taking the hormones and the retrieval and dealing with any adverse effects. I wouldn’t even give blood.”
The intense physical stress that world-class athletes subject their bodies to can lead to ovulation dysfunction. Fernandez thought back to all the menstrual periods she missed in her 20s because of her intense training and how, at the time, that proved more a convenience than a cause for concern.
Based on her experience, Fernandez said she would counsel women in professional sports to start planning for motherhood in their late 20s, rather than a decade later as she did.

“I was so selfish in those years,” she said. “I felt like I had to be. I felt like tennis was so all-encompassing.”
Photo

Jane Geddes, left, and Gigi Fernandez, right, with their twins. Fernandez battled infertility until her friend Monika Kosc, center, donated her eggs.

It was not until the summer of 2008, using donated eggs and sperm, that Fernandez became pregnant. When she gave birth to twins, Karson and Madison Fernandez-Geddes, in April 2009, two months after her 45th birthday, the vanity plate on her sport-utility vehicle assumed a new meaning: DBLE GLD no longer referred only to her 1992 and 1996 Olympic doubles titles.
From Pro to Parent

Fernandez, 46, a native of Puerto Rico, started playing tennis at 7 and developed quick hands at the net by returning balls her father, Tuto, tossed as if he were feeding a wood chipper. She accepted a scholarship to Clemson and turned pro shortly after making the 1983 N.C.A.A. singles final as a freshman.

Over the next 15 years, Fernandez won 68 women’s doubles titles. Her most successful partnership was with Natasha Zvereva, with whom she won 14 Grand Slam events. They will compete next week in the Champions Invitational at the United States Open.


After retiring, Fernandez, who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame this year alongside Zvereva, tried on different identities. She became a scratch golfer, earned her real estate license, took classes at the University of South Florida and coached tennis. On the cusp of 40, Fernandez set her sights on motherhood.

“Gigi’s one of those people who is like, ‘I want it and I want it now,’ ” Geddes said. “So it became her greatest challenge.”

Fernandez and Geddes said they spent five years and roughly $100,000 in a quest to become parents.

“My role, as it often is, was to be the cup-half-full person,” Geddes said, adding, “It’s an unbelievable process of low lows and high highs but unfortunately nothing in between.”

With every failed intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization attempt, Fernandez became more distraught. Speaking of Geddes, she said, “I think she hated how obsessive and relentless I became with the process and how upset I became after every failed attempt.”

Fernandez recalled one drive home from the doctor when Geddes steered the car to the side of the road, stopped and said: “That’s it. We are done with this.”

Geddes said it was hard to see Fernandez in such distress. “Halfway through it, I told her she had to stop taking all these drugs,” Geddes said. “She was, like, psychotic.”

Fernandez said: “The hormone treatment was intensely emotional. I don’t say I was suicidal, but I had suicidal thoughts. My thought was, what’s the point of living if I can’t have a child?”

Despite all that she had accomplished in tennis, Fernandez said, “There’s this implication that women are here to bear children, and if you can’t bear children, you’re useless.”

In 2007, the couple tried adoption. Fernandez said she filled out a lengthy questionnaire to begin the process in Florida only to be stopped by the final question.

“It was, ‘What is your sexual preference?’ ” Fernandez said.

When months passed and their papers were lost in a shuffle of caseworkers, they pursued adoption in California. Twice they were chosen by a birth mother in a process Fernandez described as “very anxiety-producing.”

In each case, Fernandez said, they paid the mother’s expenses, including medical costs, food and rent, only to have each change her mind late in the pregnancy.

When the second adoption fell through in the spring of 2008, Fernandez and Geddes were emotionally and financially drained.

“It felt sort of like it’s not supposed to happen,” Geddes said.

A Friend’s Gift

During the time Fernandez and Geddes were focused on adopting, they became friends with Monika Kosc, who was recently divorced and childless. Kosc said her heart ached for the couple, whose distress was palpable.

One day, she asked Fernandez, “What do you need to have a baby?”

“I need eggs,” Fernandez replied.

“I have eggs,” Kosc said. “You can have some of mine.”

Kosc, who was 36, went for mandatory counseling before agreeing to the procedure. She injected herself with hormones for two weeks. In August 2008, she produced eggs that were fertilized with sperm from an anonymous donor. Fernandez’s doctor, Mark P. Trolice, implanted two embryos in Fernandez’s uterus. Fernandez was in New York for the Champions Invitational when she received a voice-mail message from her doctor. She met Geddes at their hotel before calling back.

“When he said ‘You are pregnant,’ we screamed,” Fernandez wrote in an e-mail. “I cried. The entire hallway knew something had happened in our room!!”

As a precaution, Fernandez withdrew from the Open. The twins were delivered by Caesarean section six weeks early because she had developed high blood pressure.

Now Fernandez works from home, scheduling tennis lessons and business meetings for when the twins are at preschool. Geddes, the 1986 United States Women’s Open champion, commutes 40 miles each way to L.P.G.A. headquarters in Daytona Beach and travels extensively.

The trips are the worst, said Geddes, who told of returning from an overseas event last month and getting a cold shoulder from Madison at the airport.

“To see these guys as a family is priceless,” Kosc said, adding: “I see the biggest change in Gigi. It’s not about her. It’s about the kids. She’s so selfless and giving and thoughtful and responsible and down to earth.”

Kosc was speaking from the playroom in the house in the gated community here where Fernandez and Geddes live and where Kosc, a frequent visitor, answers to Auntie. A plastic golf club and a child’s tennis racket were among the toys. On the top of the television, blocks spelling each child’s name flanked blocks that spelled Mama.

Fernandez, Geddes and Kosc sat cross-legged on the floor, playing with Karson and Madison and talking about their unusual bond.

“I feel like no matter what we do for Monika, we’ll never repay her,” Fernandez said.

Madison and Karson’s eyes were glued to the television, where a cartoon monkey was explaining baseball, basketball, golf, soccer and tennis. The instructional DVD, the sporting version of Baby Mozart, is called “Baby Goes Pro.” It is the brainchild of Fernandez and her business partner, Valerie Stern.

The idea came to Fernandez as she pondered ways to nurture a love and aptitude for sports in her children, who have none of their athletic parents’ genes.

“I really deep down wish they were genetically mine,” Fernandez said. “Sometimes, I kid myself into thinking they are. Because I carried them, I feel so connected to them.”

Geddes, with input from Fernandez, chose the sperm donor based on his personality. In their home office, they keep a folder that contains all the information they have on him. His answers to a questionnaire suggest that he is kind, smart, optimistic and easygoing. He seems a lot like Geddes in temperament, just what the couple was seeking.

Kosc said she has been approached by other couples seeking an egg donor.

“It’s not going to happen,” she said, adding, “I don’t want any half-siblings out there.”

Fernandez interjected, “Only if I want another one.”

Kosc: “You have a perfect world.”

Fernandez: “There is no such thing as perfect.”

Geddes: “That’s the world of Gigi right there.”
Correction: September 6, 2010

An article last Monday about Gigi Fernandez’s tennis career and its effect on her plans for motherhood misstated the year she competed in the N.C.A.A. women’s singles championships. It was 1983, not 1993.
 

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Re: Gigi Fernandez

GIGI FERNANDEZ | ITA Women's Hall of Fame

With 17 Grand Slam titles and two Olympic Gold Medals, Beatriz “Gigi” Fernandez (b. 1964) ranks among the greatest doubles players of all time. Recruited to Clemson University from her native Puerto Rico, Fernandez went pro after reaching the national collegiate singles finals in her freshman year. From 1983 to 1997, she captured 69 doubles titles, reached 26 Grand Slam finals in doubles and mixed doubles, and was consistently ranked No. 1 from 1991 to 1995. Employing her big serve-and-volley game, Fernandez also reached as high as No. 17 in the singles rankings. Retiring at the top of her game, Fernandez went on to earn her B.A. with honors from the University of South Florida in 2003, coaching the USF women’s tennis team as well from 2002-05. Dedicated to developing Puerto Rican tennis, Fernandez worked with the island’s Fed Cup and Olympic teams, and in 1999 was named Puerto Rico’s Female Athlete of the Century. Pursuing a second career as a businesswoman, Fernandez continues to head the Gigi Fernandez Charitable Foundation, established in 1992, which has donated more than a half-million dollars to charitable causes.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

  • U.S. Collegiate Singles Finalist 1983
  • Clemson University freshman season: 40-7 record in singles; 30-9 in doubles
  • Professional Tour Player 1983-1997: 17 Grand Slam titles; 664-184 career record in doubles; 270-232 in singles
  • Silver Medalist in Singles and Doubles, Pan American Games 1983
  • Member, Puerto Rican Olympic Team 1984 (exhibition tennis)
  • Olympic Gold Medalist in Doubles 1992, 1996
  • Australian Open Doubles Champion 1993-94; Finalist 1991, 1995; Mixed Doubles Finalist 1995
  • French Open Doubles Champion 1991-95, 1997; Finalist 1996
  • Wimbledon Doubles Champion 1992-94, 1997; Finalist 1991, 1995; Mixed Doubles Finalist 1995
  • U.S. Open Doubles Champion 1988, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1996; Finalist 1997; Mixed Doubles Finalist 1995
  • Wimbledon Singles Semifinalist 1994
  • U.S. Open Singles Quarterfinalist 1991, 1994
  • 69 WTA Doubles Titles; 2 WTA Singles Titles
  • Member, WTA Doubles Team of the Year 1991-93, 1994, 1995, 1997
  • Member, U.S. Wightman Cup Team 1987-1992
  • Member, U.S. Federation Cup Team 1990 (champions) 1991-92, 1994-97
  • Personal Best Award Clairol 1991 (given to U.S. Olympian who most exemplifies achievement beyond the field of sport)
  • Named Puerto Rico’s Female Athlete of the Century 1999
  • B.A., University of South Florida (with honors) 2003; current M.B.A. candidate, Rollins College
  • Head Women’s Tennis Coach at USF 2002-05; guided the unranked team to a Top 30 ranking
  • Puerto Rico Coach of the Year 2003
  • Coach and Manager for Vilmarie Castellvi (University of Tennessee) 2003-present
  • WTA Professional Coach for No. 1 Doubles Team – Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 2005-06
  • Inducted into the Clemson University Athletic Hall of Fame 2005
  • Inducted into the Puerto Rico Sports Hall of Fame 2007
  • Businesswoman, venture capitalist, real estate investor 1998-present
  • President, Gigi Fernandez Charitable Foundation 1992-present
 

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Apparently Monica Puig's recent Olympiv gold, wildly celebrated in Puerto Rico, threw into relief Gigi's decision in the 1980s and 90s to represent the United States.

Unfazed by critics, Gigi Fernandez lauds Puig's tennis gold

AP Published 8:20 p.m. ET Aug. 13, 2016 | Updated 9:05 p.m. ET Aug. 13, 2016

(Photo: The Associated Press)


RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Monica Puig isn't the first Puerto Rican women's tennis player to win a gold medal at the Olympics. She's just the first to win one for Puerto Rico.

And Gigi Fernandez was thrilled to see it happen.

Fernandez, a Puerto Rican who won Olympic gold in doubles in 1992 and 1996 but did so while representing the United States, has dealt with plenty of social-media criticism in recent days as the wounds caused by her decision from a generation ago were reopened, in part from her own Twitter commentary. But after watching Puig's historic win on television from her Connecticut home on Saturday, Fernandez said her only regret was not being in Rio de Janeiro to watch it live.

"Nothing about Monica winning has bothered me at all," Fernandez, a 17-time Grand Slam doubles winner who now coaches and is a mom to 7-year-old twins, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "What bothered me was some of the things people were saying to me. For some reason people thought I wouldn't be happy for her. I'm wildly ecstatic. I cannot believe how well she played."
Puig, who was unseeded, knocked off second-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-4, 4-6, 6-1. Afterward, Puig wrapped herself in a Puerto Rican flag and wiped away plenty of joyous tears.

After Puig's win, there was a note awaiting her from Fernandez as well.

"I know her and she wrote to me, congratulating me, so that's very nice," Puig said. "She played in the doubles, and I know that she won the gold medal. ... For me, it's inspiring, really."

Her win instantly became big news in Puerto Rico, where fans flocked into restaurants and bars to watch her final match on television.
"Best sport moment I have ever witnessed," former major league baseball player Alex Cora said after watching Puig's win in Puerto Rico.
Yet not all the reaction was joyful, especially what was directed toward Fernandez. Tweets sent her way ranged from a handful of those coming to her defense to some being downright profane.

For her part, Fernandez didn't often engage back.

"I'm trying not to fuel the fire and let Monica have her stage," Fernandez said.

But during the opening ceremony of the Rio Games, Fernandez started this new round of old debate with a tweet .
Puerto Rico's flagbearer for the opening was Jaime Espinal, a wrestler born in the Dominican Republic. Fernandez tweeted a photo of the Puerto Rican team walking into Maracana Stadium with words in Spanish that translated to asking if Espinal is Dominican or Puerto Rican.
"Double standard," she wrote.

That opened the floodgates, re-opening the issue that started when she decided to play doubles for the U.S. at the 1992 Barcelona Games and four years later in Atlanta. It's a decision that Fernandez insists wasn't easy, but was made simply because she wasn't even sure Puerto Rico could qualify for doubles — her specialty — and get into those Olympics. So when a chance to play for the U.S. and partner with Mary Joe Fernandez came, Gigi Fernandez felt she was making the smartest move.

"If I was destined to win a medal, it would have been in doubles and Puerto Rico did not have another player that I could have played with," she said. "I struggled with the decision. But now it's behind us."

She was the first Puerto Rican professional athlete, part of a group — Mary Joe Fernandez and Gabriela Sabatini also included — that, as Puig said Saturday night, all played a role in inspiring her to pick up the game.

Puig knocked off the world's second-ranked player in Kerber in the final, and also beat No. 4 Garbine Muguruza earlier in the tournament.
"I cannot believe how well she played," Fernandez said. "To take out two of the top five players and win gold is just remarkable. I don't know what possessed her — but she needs to carry it for the rest of her life."

And when Puig goes back to Puerto Rico, Fernandez knows what awaits.

"A heroes' welcome, probably a parade and they might rename the capital of Puerto Rico to Monica," Fernandez said. "She definitely deserves everything she's going to get."
 

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