With endorsements, Mary Joe's earnings topped $1 million last year. But things for the Fernandezes have not always been so flush. Jose met Sylvia, who is from Cuba, while visiting Havana in 1960. Eleven years later Mary Joe was born in the Dominican Republic, where Jose was working for an American investment company. Today they live in South Miami in a modest three-bedroom apartment—the same condo that Jose and Sylvia moved into 15 years ago.
One change Tiriac plans to make soon involves Fernandez's schedule. The T-V Enterprises people were appalled by the number of matches and exhibitions she entered in the second half of last year. "Boris can't play more than two weeks in a row, and he's a 200-pound man," says T-V Enterprises director Heather MacLachlan. "Mary Joe played four consecutive weeks"—with exhibitions thrown in on off days.
Gullikson's future with Fernandez seems up in the air, though he was with her for the recent Australian Open, where she was eliminated by Seles in the semis. He says, "I want to emphasize this: I really like Mary Joe. She is everything you could ask for—talented, smart, nice."
Then Gullikson indulges in some wishful thinking. "Look at Pete Sampras," he says. "From the time he was 15 to the time he was 19, he totally restructured his game. I wish Mary Joe had started when she was 15 instead of 19."
Fernandez does not share Gullikson's sentiments. That much is clear at the lunch table as she and her friends forage for the last few french fries in the basket, weigh their social options for the evening and compare the worst pickup lines they've ever heard. The unanimous winner: "Baby, was your father a thief? Then who stole the stars from the skies and put them in your eyes?"
Other diners glance over at the small group of friends as they fill the restaurant with laughter.