From Publishers Weekly
If you think only male professional tennis players exhibit less-than-mature behavior on and off center court, you're in for a surprise with Wertheim's candid tell-all account of a year spent following the superstars and also-rans on the WTA Tour, from the 2000 Australian Open to the 2000 U.S. Open. Wertheim (senior writer for Sports Illustrated) pulls no punches as he profiles the egos, catty repartee, emotional battering and dysfunctional family relationships that drive Venus and Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis, Anna Kournikova, Monica Seles and some lesser-known professionals. Women's tennis is now "the world's most popular and financially successful women's sport," surpassing men's tennis in television viewership, but still lagging behind the men in prize money. The outspoken sportswomen are not unaware of their sex appeal and appear, for the most part, willing and eager to cash in on it. Sound bites range from petulant to downright insulting (Hingis), while a model-pretty player like Kournikova can exude icy diva vibes and garner huge bonuses even though she has yet to win a major tournament. After winning the 2000 U.S. Open, Venus Williams "talked smack" to then-President Bill Clinton, asking him to lower her property taxes. But underlying the bravado of these successful athletes is the specter of abuse and dysfunction. Wertheim is unafraid to name names and reveals that the "tennis dad" is even more dangerous than the "stage mother," among other unpleasant truths. The book should hold more than just tabloid interest for young women who aspire to tennis careers. 8 pages of color photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Wertheim, a senior Sports Illustrated writer, examines women's professional tennis by focusing on the 2000 tour. Any professional sport is an insular, self-contained world with its own peculiar rituals and protocols, but women's tennis is more bizarre than most. Contributing to the show-biz atmosphere are the huge amounts of money at stake; the fragile egos of the competitors, often in their teens or early 20s; the sex appeal; and the very real sexual intrigue that permeates the tour. Among the tabloid-friendly incidents Wertheim recounts are the glamorous Anna Kournikova's bedeviling of Russian hockey stars; Wimbledon champ Venus Williams' grilling of President Clinton during the obligatory congratulation call; and the various antics of Williams' father, Richard, a combination of Daddy Dearest and Don King. Wertheim also explores the darker aspects of women's tennis, including severely dysfunctional families and sexual abuse of players by coaches. Michael Mewshaw explored many of these same issues in Ladies of the Court (1993); not much has changed since then, but Wertheim provides a fascinating update. Wes Lukowsky
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