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Tennis
S.L. Price
July 10, 2000
The Big BreakthroughVladimir Voltchkov, ranked No. 237, fought his way into the second week of Wimbledon
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July 10, 2000

Tennis

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So they came together without him, 65 winners and finalists dating back to 1931. One by one they came into Centre Court, including 93-year-old Bunny Austin in a wheelchair and Rod Laver limping slightly two years after a stroke. Bjorn Borg came after 19 years of self-imposed exile and knelt to kiss the grass. "How could [Jimmy] not be part of that?" said former tennis coach Lorne Kuhle, one of Connors's oldest friends. "Guys got on a plane, 80 years old; it's too bad. Jimmy should've been here."

In spirit, anyway, he was all over the place.

Alexandra Stevenson's Slump
Big Hype, Little Game

As Anna Kournikova can attest, a WTA tour player's popularity doesn't necessarily reflect her match results. Still, the hype accorded Stevenson is increasingly hard to understand. Owing largely to her family tree and the controversy she courts, Stevenson has a lucrative endorsement contract with Nike, plays regularly on "show" courts and is on the tour's "commitment list," which gives special consideration to the 20 most marketable players. Yet since last year's Wimbledon she has not survived the third round of a WTA tournament After dropping her second-round match to Austria's Patricia Wartusch last week, Stevenson had a 8-17 record for 2000 (compared with 25-18 for the No. 19-ranked Kournikova). "She gets a lot of publicity," one U.S. player says of Stevenson, "but, I'm sorry, she's just not that good."

At 6'1", Stevenson is among the tallest players on tour, still capable of blasting serves the way she did during last year's run to the Wimbledon semis. Her one-handed backhand also has the potential to be a weapon. She's too inconsistent from the baseline, however, and too plodding to attack the net. She also tires as matches progress, hitting short slices rather than penetrating drives. "The first thing she has to do," says Nick Bollettieri, who shares duties as Stevenson's coach with former top 10 player Brian Gottfried and Alexandra's mother, "is get in shape."

Stevenson's early Wimbledon exit might help her rescue her foundering game. Her ranking will plummet more than 50 places, to the mid-90s. Barring wild-card berths, she'll have to win qualifying matches to reach the main draw at most events. "I need to keep getting better," Stevenson says. "One way to do that is to play a lot of matches." Now, away from the bright lights, she'll get her chance.
—L.J.W.

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