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Hingis denies 'half a man' quote
Posted: Friday January 29, 1999 09:35 PM
MELBOURNE, Australia (Reuters) -- Leading women's players denied on Friday they were talking about anything but tennis when they said Australian Open finalist Amelie Mauresmo of France was like a man.
The 19-year-old Mauresmo has powerful shoulders and a game to match, downing world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport in the semifinals on Thursday with a fearsome display of power tennis.
She is also openly gay, and speaks freely about her relationship with a woman who travels with her on the tour.
Mauresmo was reported to be angry about a comment made by defending champion Martina Hingis, whom she will play in Saturday's final.
Hingis was quoted as saying in a German-language news conference on Thursday: "She travels with her girlfriend, she is half a man."
German reporters said Hingis's exact words were: "Sie ist ein halber Mann" -- she is half man.
But Hingis denied on Friday she had ever made the remark.
"A half-man? Who would say that?" Hingis said. "She's a girl, she's playing tennis... very good and I have to beat her on court, not somewhere else."
Asked to explain what she had said in the news conference with Swiss reporters, Hingis said she had mentioned Mauresmo's girlfriend and had spoken about her style of play.
"She has got a lot of topspin and it's not... that she is a man but she plays really like a man, the way she plays. That's what we were saying with Lindsay, I think both of us."
Davenport -- who said after being beaten by Mauresmo, "I thought I was playing a guy" -- angrily accused reporters of taking her words out of context.
"Unfortunately you guys love to write, you know, the worst line possible and unfortunately you have probably hurt a very nice girl," Davenport told a news conference on Friday.
"I'm not going to say anything at all about anything any more and you guys can have the most boring press conferences ever."
Gone are the days when leading women's players feel the need to cover up their sexuality. Former tennis great Billie-Jean King felt unable for many years to admit she was gay, although she had the courage to take on the sport's governing body to bring proper money into women's tennis.
The Mauresmo row, however, shows the issue still has the potential to create a stir.
Australia's Channel Seven television was due to screen an interview with Mauresmo's coach, Christophe Fournerie, later on Friday and reported she had been angered and "motivated" by Hingis's remarks.
Told of her opponent's reaction, the unflappable Hingis replied: "Well, so am I."
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