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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The stars of the women's tennis tour are the richest, most famous, and most conspicuous female athletes in the world, and yet the public's perception of them is often limited to the little that can be gleaned from press conferences and photo opportunities. Eager to get beyond the cosmetic image, Michael Mewshaw followed the circuit from Rome to Paris, London, New York… See more details below

Overview

The stars of the women's tennis tour are the richest, most famous, and most conspicuous female athletes in the world, and yet the public's perception of them is often limited to the little that can be gleaned from press conferences and photo opportunities. Eager to get beyond the cosmetic image, Michael Mewshaw followed the circuit from Rome to Paris, London, New York and points in between. Along the way he met teenage millionaires such as Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati, and Mary Joe Fernandez. Then he talked to their opponents, obscure girls struggling to stay on the tour and continuing to pursue a dream. He spoke with adolescents, anxious about their emerging sexuality, and veterans trying to balance love affairs, marriages, and motherhood with the demands of a tennis career. He had bristly encounters with ferociously ambitious fathers who live through, and off of, their daughters. An acclaimed novelist, Mewshaw captures the essence of characters as complex as Martina Navratilova and as image conscious as Chris Evert and Pam Shriver. A celebrated sportswriter, he analyzes matches, discusses strategy, and describes the practice sessions and conditioning programs of the top stars. He interviews the most renowned coaches, trainers, and sports agents, and he serves as a sympathetic listener as the women candidly assess their lives. Most important, as an award-winning investigative journalist, Mewshaw is in a position to subject the women's tennis tour to the sort of scrutiny it rarely receives. Delving into police files and court documents, he uncovers the painful price that players often pay for success. From sociologists and sports psychiatrists, he learns about teenagers sexually abused by middle-age men, coaches who consider sex just another perk of the job, and the groupies, gofers, and hangers-on who have their own troubling agendas. Ladies of the Court is an in-depth, behind-the-scenes report on women's tennis that ranges from profiles of Grand Slam champ

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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 - 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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780517587584
Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/23/1993
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
327

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