I'm constantly awed by women's talent on the court
Posted: Tuesday August 30, 2005 12:41PM; Updated: Tuesday August 30, 2005 12:41PM
World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport hits the ball as well, if not better, than most male players.
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Outspoken tennis pro Justin Gimelstob will write every few days from the U.S. Open, where he'll face Max Mirnyi in a first-round match Tuesday. Click here to read all of Justin's entries.
I know I was a bit rough on the women of the WTA Tour last Friday, and some of the ladies here at the U.S. Open now want my head served up on a platter.
I find that a bit ironic on two counts: First, I had intended to write a follow-up piece about how skilled and impressive the WTA players are. (More on that later.) The second, and more obvious reason, is that everyone on the women's tour knows I've been dating one of their own, Corina Morariu, for two-and-a-half years. Clearly I find an athletic and determined woman more attractive than the waif-model types who fill up most of the players' lounges at our events.
Now for my professional opinions about the women's tour. I often practice with female players and I'm always incredibly impressed. Not surprisingly, I love practicing with Corina. At Wimbledon in July, I was allowed only one hour of practice time the day before the tournament began, and I chose to play with Corina over any of my fellow male pros. I also warmed up with her last week at the Pilot Pen Championships in New Haven, Conn.
One of the best weeks of practice I've ever had was at the Bank of the West Classic, a WTA event in Stanford, Calif., last month. I was lucky enough to practice with world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport. I couldn't have been more wowed with how talented she is and how hard she works. Her ability to hit the tennis ball is no less impressive than any male player I have ever played or practiced against.
When I first came on the ATP tour, I had the good fortune of teaming up with Venus Williams in mixed doubles at a few Grand Slams. I was similarly amazed at how well she hit the ball and, more important, how much she enjoyed competing and was able to thrive under pressure. I honestly can say Venus carried me to our mixed-doubles titles at the Australian Open and French Open in 1998, and at that early point in my career, I learned the importance of having a good woman by one's side.
A touching experience
I met an extraordinary person the other day at the USTA National Tennis Center. I walked into the players' training room, trying to figure out where to get a massage, when I clumsily bumped into one of the massage therapists. I didn't think much of it, considering it's a small room and both he and I are big guys.
When I came back for my massage, I saw the same guy. He gently took my arm and said, "You know I'm blind, right?"
I couldn't stop thinking about how amazing this guy is, how incredible it is that he is capably navigating the inner sanctums of the Tennis Center while I'm struggling to find my way around the block.
On Monday, I went back to the massage room and was lucky enough to get a massage from my new friend, Gary Bergman. I spent most of the massage trying to figure out if his skill is enhanced by an adaptation of feeling things others try to see. Regardless, it was an awesome massage from a talented therapist and a very impressive man. Thanks for the massage, and for the inspiration, Gary.