Ladies of the Court: Grace and Disgrace on the Women's Tennis Tour

Ladies of the Court: Grace and Disgrace on the Women's Tennis Tour

by Michael Mewshaw

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Beneath the seductive surface of women's tennis, with its glamour, fame and money, there are less appealing aspects, which Mewshaw ( Short Circuit ) exposes in this revealing study. Following the tradition begun by Tracy Austin and Andrea Jaeger, girls are joining the circuit at an age when their bodies are not fully developed, making them likely candidates for injuries. Many are pushed into pro careers by parents who tyrannize them or, in some cases, beat them. Most are trained by male coaches who in some cases institute sexual relationships with the youngsters, a situation not discouraged by parents who fear that their daughters will become lesbians. Only a few are high school graduates, and the majority of them are exceedingly dull and inarticulate. Thus it should come as no surprise that the most interesting comments in the book are those of Martina Navratilova, who, after the 14-year-old media darling Jennifer Capriati suffered a defeat, observed: ``All that hype doesn't win victories.'' (Apr.)
Library Journal
While this is the third major book in as many years to cover the pro tennis circuit, it takes a more narrow view by focusing on the women of the 1991-1992 tennis season. While not as smoothly written as Eliot Berry's Tough Draw ( LJ 8/92) or as biting as John Feinstein's Hard Courts (Villard: Random, 1991), Mewshaw's book does draw some interesting distinctions. Women can begin the pro tour at the age of 14, and they often do not finish high school. They are frequently subject to sexual exploitation by older male coaches or experience extreme pressure from parents who rely on a teenaged daughter as the family's sole financial support. Although the ending fades with the end of the tour year, this look into a rareified world is intriguing. Libraries without Feinstein's and Berry's books should acquire.-- J. Sara Paulk, Concord P.L., N.H.
Wes Lukowsky
Mewshaw's expose of men's professional tennis, "Short Circuit" (1983), should have caused a major uproar but didn't. In it, he reveals that, other than Grand Slam events, men's tennis has as much in common with professional wrestling as it does with honest competition. This time Mewshaw examines women's professional tennis. He finds trouble there, too, but of a different kind. He begins with the obvious--the youth of many of the competitors (often in their early teens) and the attendant lack of education. The inevitable immaturity, he finds, can lead to unhealthy emotional relationships with older coaches and training partners, who are often men. For its younger participants, then, the women's tour becomes a totally insular and self-referential world that routinely stunts personal growth even as it offers incredible financial rewards. Lending considerable balance to the whole, Mewshaw includes many viewpoints other than his own (formed after spending 1991 on the women's tour). The big names--Navratilova, Seles, Graf, and Capriati--are all here, as well as many of the lesser lights. Readers may envy the tour players' money and fame, but, after reading Mewshaw, it's doubtful they'll envy the loneliness and sadness that too often overwhelm these women.

Product Details

Crown Publishing Group
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1st ed

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