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On court, Gadusek moves more like a sandblaster than a sandpiper. She attacks the ball with the vigor of a lumberjack. Most of her strokes are accompanied by a grunt that shatters the silence of center court.
At home in Largo, Fla., Gadusek is no less intense. Her three-bedroom house is decorated in looking-glass modern. The furniture is shiny chrome, and mirrors adorn the wall of the fern-filled room in which she works out every morning to Eye of the Tiger from Rocky Ill. "Sometimes I look in the mirror to see if I have the hungry look," she says. "That eye, that eagerness, that want."
Eye of the Tiger is Gadusek's theme song. The Animal doesn't go for modern art any more than she goes for classical music. "I don't like splotches," she says. "It has to be clear to me." She does understand a framed photograph of shrimp and a glass of champagne in her living room. "My favorite food and my favorite drink," she says. Over her bed is a print of two ominous-looking black panthers scowling at each other.
The tennis-playing Animal wears custom-made artificial leopard and tiger-skin belts and visors. Her shoelaces are emblazoned with little versions of panthers, tigers and lions. Slinking around the house is a cat named Scooter. "She's like me," Gadusek says, "sweet and mean."
Gadusek picked up the name The Animal on the practice court. She was running a demanding series of side-to-side drills. "God," a friend exclaimed. "She's an animal!" It stuck. "I'm not trying to be punk or anything," says Gadusek. "It's just that I want to be king of the jungle."
Women's Tennis Association consultant Ted Tinling doesn't like to think of the tour as a jungle, and he's not so sure he likes to think of Gadusek as The Animal. "The word has become associated with muggers," Tinling says. "I cannot believe it has a positive connotation. Certainly not in a sport where we're trying to reintroduce feminine grace and a certain amount of charm."
Tinling suggests Gadusek call herself Jaguar or Tigress. He rules out Leopard. "Nobody makes those coats anymore," says Tinling, the 74-year-old Briton with a polished pate and a diamond stud in his left lobe, who has outfitted so many female tennis stars.
Gadusek shrugs off Tinling's complaints. "I don't especially care for guys who wear earrings," she says.
She has become a formidable player through practice, practice, practice. She's not especially gifted. "Bonnie is a manufactured player," says Tinling. "She's a wonderful product of a problem."
Gadusek identifies with Alice, although she hasn't read the Alice stories. "I could never sit still long enough," she says. As a little girl, Gadusek lived her own fantasy life in her basement. Her father, Frank, was a packer at the Heinz plant in Pittsburgh, and her basement was lined with outsized bottles of ketchup, pickles and baby food. She remembers the room as being about as big as the Red Queen's chessboard. It had a hanging swing, a bumper-pool table and her brother Frank's barbells. "I was always curling," she says. "I loved to see my biceps grow." Today the 130-pound Gadusek bench-presses 100 pounds.