Oh yes, I left
something out. Attention, British press: Andy and I are going to try to have a
baby. No, I am not pregnant yet. Over the years the tabloids in London have had
me "with child" about 10 separate times.
Like every woman,
I wonder what my maternal instincts will be. When you're young, you fantasize
about how wonderful and cuddly babies are. Only recently have I begun to notice
the work that goes into raising children and the strain in my sister Jeanne's
eyes. And she's only 32. Jeanne and her husband, Brahm, live 15 minutes from us
in Delray Beach, and their kids, Eric, who's 3½ and Kati, who's seven months,
are worth every strain.
I'm a great
believer in getting to know kids, because I don't think my parents or their
generation did enough communicating with children. Eric and I go bicycling and
fishing. I caught a crab in a little net for him, and we played on his swing
set. It was such fun. Most of all, though, I talk with him, and it's great. Of
course, my contact is only for a few hours, which is quite different from being
with a child for 24 hours every single day. I wonder how I'll bear up to that.
We shall see. People often ask me what will I do at next year's U.S. Open.
Hopefully, I'll be very pregnant by then.
As exotic as the
people and places on the circuit have been, what I'll miss the most is the game
itself. I've always loved the geometry of the sport, loved finding the angles,
the holes, somehow searching out a way to win. Tennis was my showcase, my way
of being creative. I was a shy little girl who desperately needed something to
excel in. Deep down inside, the game made me a complete person. It made me feel
To this day I
remember being 13 and noticing all the beautiful girls at St. Thomas Aquinas
High and wondering how I could compete without spending $5 million on plastic
surgery. Then one day I said something funny in a mixed group, and the boys
laughed. I realized that if you could be bright and witty, you had a chance to
be popular, too.
I've always been
conservative and have always held my emotions and my personality in check. My
on-court stoicism has often dominated my public image off the court as well.
Because my father was my role model, I grew up with total seriousness all
around me. But I love humor, and it doesn't bother me that the world doesn't
know the real me. It's never been a calculated move that I would be two
different people. I just am.
My whole life has
been so intense that humor and laughter became my escape. Though I've seldom
exposed that side of myself to a general audience, the women on tour will tell
you that I am among the more cynical and sarcastic voices in the locker room.
Pam Shriver is my idol witwise, and when we get together we can brutalize
practically anybody with some very rough humor. My brother John is one of the
funniest guys in the world. It is very important to have that atmosphere around
me as a balance.
Martina claims I
tell the dirtiest jokes around—probably as a semirevolt against my strict
Catholic upbringing. And when I've become angry in practice, every four-letter
word imaginable has graced these lips. Just the other day I broke my racket
with a vengeance. Only about five people were watching me practice, but they
must have thought the sky had fallen. It felt sooooo good.
I don't want to
sound overly metaphoric, but tennis really is a lot like life: Working hard in
a rally, exploring for openings, taking risks, making the points, missing.
Until only a few years ago, I enjoyed the mental aspects of the sport much more
than the physical aspects. But Martina revolutionized the game, raising it to a
level that forced me to join a gym and become a true athlete—or at least a
facsimile of one. I should thank Martina not only for ordering me out of my
blue funk and inviting me to Aspen over those Christmas holidays when I met
Andy—this was following my separation from John Lloyd—but also for introducing
me to the, ahem, joys of exercise. Without my daily workouts, I could never
make the 20-mile mountain-bike rides my husband "forces" me to
accompany him on now—not to mention holding Martina to a 43-37 edge in our
Of course, I'll
miss playing Martina. My biggest thrills came in beating her, yet when I lost
to Martina, I was disappointed but never devastated. If I couldn't win the
tournament myself, I wanted her to win it. I could feel the rivalry emanating
not only from us but from crowds around the world as well. The excitement and
the tension were everywhere.