By men Shaughnessy was a full-time pro, struggling financially and schlepping to tennis backwaters to troll for rankings points. Imbued with an us-against-the-world spirit, she claims that having Font de Mora as her companion made all the difference. "It was disappointing losing in the first round," she says, "but it was great having Rafael there to keep my confidence up." Initially the dimensions of the relationship were confusing, Shaughnessy allows, but she and Font de Mora adjusted. "If I had a hard day at the courts, it could be hard to be a good fianc�e," she says. "We learned to give each other space."
After finishing 2000 ranked 39th in the world, Shaughnessy is now No. 12, having beaten Monica Seles and Venus Williams in recent months, and has won more than $1 million in her career. In her view, her success validates a player-coach relationship that was—and, in some precincts, still is—met with disapprobation. "There were hardships, but that's made it more rewarding," Shaughnessy says. "Rafael has been my coach for so long, I don't know where I am without him."
In the days before and during the 1996 Olympics, Terry Liskevych persuaded the U.S. women's volleyball team to keep the Liley-Miller controversy "in the family" and to avoid discussing it with the media. However, the team's chemistry had been irreparably altered. "With women's sports especially, so much is based on emotion and how the team is feeling," one U.S. player says. "After this happened, we were toast before we ever set foot on the floor." Caren Kemner puts it more bluntly: "All the b.s. came out."
There were practical implications as well. As Liskevych's longtime acolyte, Miller was a talented scout of international teams who also assisted with the American setters and was the primary liaison between the coaches, the players and the federation. Once he was suspended, there was a conspicuous void on the team. Less than a month before the Olympics, the players also had to adjust to a new captain. What's more, the U.S. had the misfortune of drawing Cuba, the eventual gold medalist, early in the competition and lost decisively. Out of medal contention, the Americans fell to South Korea a few days later and finished the Games a disappointing seventh.
Five years later, some team members finally are comfortable enough to talk about the situation for the first time. Tammy Liley is now Tammy Leibl, assistant volleyball coach of the women's team at the University of San Diego, married and the mother of a 14-month-old son. She concedes that being involved with one of her coaches "wasn't an ideal situation" but says the biggest problem for the team arose when Liskevych terminated Miller. "He was the main coach for our setters, and because he wasn't in Atlanta, we were kind of lost," she says. Miller, who declined comment other than to say he was "concerned for the good of the team," also has moved on; he now coaches Toledo's women's team.
As for Liskevych, he is out of volleyball and works as a developer of coaching software and lives in Southern California with his wife, Nancy, who played for him at Pacific in the late 1970s. Their romance, he says, didn't begin until her playing days were over, and his own situation never entered his mind when he disciplined Liley and Miller. "Rules are rules," says Liskevych.
For others, five years isn't long enough to forget the Olympic disappointment that followed the Liley-Miller affair. "That they broke policy when they did meant that our team, our country and volleyball in the U.S. felt the effects," says Elaina Oden. "The opportunity for women's sports in this country was never better than in 1996. I watched as the WNBA, WUSA and a professional softball league formed. Maybe volleyball could have had a pro league too. I don't know if we could have won a gold medal or sustained a volleyball league in this country, but now we'll never know what could have been, because those two put their needs before those of the team. I knew there were 11 other teams in that tournament that had the same goals as we did, and I was ready for them. What I didn't expect was to be sabotaged from inside."