In a glam era of tennis, Lindsay Davenport produced victories—not drama
LINDSAY DAVENPORT announced last week that she and her husband, investment banker Jon Leach, are expecting their first child early next summer. If motherhood should occasion the end of Davenport's playing days—she hasn't officially announced her retirement—it will mark a fitting end to an underrated career. Davenport rushed home from the 1994 French Open to attend her high school graduation; such conventional sensibilities never deserted her. Playing in an era that saw women's tennis try (with mixed success) to marry sport with sex, attitude and entertainment, Davenport was cast as the den mother, the adult who looked on amusedly as Anna Kournikova invited the wolf whistles and the Williams sisters became seduced by Hollywood.
Her timing was both a blessing and a curse. Though unfailingly thoughtful and well-spoken, Davenport was never comfortable with her celebrity. "The more attention the other girls want," she once told SI, "the better for me." Yet the prevailing glam culture deprived Davenport of her due as a player. She won three majors and 51 titles (nearly as many as Venus and Serena Williams combined). Davenport, 30, battled injuries for most of 2006 and fell out of the top 20. A raft of other players have already filled the vacuum in the rankings. The loss of dignity and professionalism that attends her absence will be harder for women's tennis to replace.