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Hingis apologized to Mauresmo as the two players stood on Centre Court awaiting the trophy presentation. "I hope you really mean this," Mauresmo recalled saying in response, although she doubted Hingis was sincere, and in fact Hingis wasn't. "I'm not regretting anything I said about her," Hingis said during the car ride to the photo shoot, "but I have to see [Mauresmo] for many years, and I don't want to have to look into the wall every time I see her coming."
What happened in Melbourne will test both Mauresmo and the women's tour. The last prominent openly gay player was Martina Navratilova. "Martina chose not to live in the closet, and there were consequences in terms of endorsements and business," says Pam Shriver, who won 20 Grand Slam doubles titles with Navratilova. "That's unfortunate, but that's the way it is."
More than a year ago Mauresmo was warned by a former coach that coming out would complicate her career. Before the Australian Open former tour player Karine Quentrec Eagle, who's also French, gave Mauresmo a similar warning. "I told her I didn't think she should do this now, but she wanted to," Eagle says. "She said she's happy and strong."
Last Saturday night Mauresmo briefly revisited her decision to come out. "There were a few moments when I said, 'Maybe I should have stayed private,' " she said. Then she remembered her life of a year ago, when she was involved in a relationship with another player and would grope for palatable lies whenever the subject of boyfriends was broached by an interviewer. "I wasn't myself," Mauresmo said. "I don't want to hide Sylvie. I love her."
Indications are that Mauresmo's game will make her a factor on the tour for some time. She's the rare woman player who hits a one-handed backhand with topspin and power. She finished Davenport with a crushing backhand down the line. "She's not like most of the French; she's more resilient," says Arnaud Boetsch, a Frenchman who has been ranked as high as No. 14 in the world.
In the Melbourne final, however, Hingis was simply too much for Mauresmo. Last year the physical and emotional effects of simply growing up pulled Hingis back to a pack of players that she had dominated in 1997. "It was a total mess," she said on Saturday. "Your body changes"-hers became wider and softer, hampering her coordination—"your head changes, it's hard to keep everything under control. But you look around and you see people like Jennifer Capriati and you realize that the train is moving very fast, and if you get off for a little bit, you better get right back on or it's going to be gone."
Hingis made Mauresmo look one-dimensional by hitting sharply angled shots and by coming to the net 18 times. When Mauresmo drove her back, Hingis scrambled spectacularly, proving that her quickness has caught up with her body. In the final game Mauresmo saved six match points before netting forehand volleys on consecutive points. Too good, Martina. As the loser might have said—but didn't—it was almost like playing a guy.