Davenport: 2010 will be an exciting year
Ten years after her Australian Open championship, Lindsay Davenport is happy to watch this one from the sidelines. Davenport, 33, never likes to say never, as evidenced by her successful comeback after the birth of her son, Jagger, in 2007. But with the addition of daughter Lauren last year, the former WTA No. 1 says she's unlikely to rejoin the women's tour. However, she and former rival Martina Hingis will play an exhibition match in Germany later this month.
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Davenport transitioned into broadcast duties with the Tennis Channel during the 2009 season. "It's very challenging, trying not to pick on people too much," she told reporters last month in Baltimore, where she played in ESPN analyst Pam Shriver's annual charity event. "After being there yourself, you know how difficult those shots can be, even though they look easy. To try to relay that to the viewers, and try to get a sense of what they want to hear from us -- I'm still learning. I have a long way to go. I'm trying to be fair, and we'll see how it goes." Here are excerpts from Davenport's one-on-one conversation with ESPN.com in Baltimore.
Bonnie D. Ford: Your thoughts about the future.
Lindsay Davenport: My future? [Laughs] There's not a lot of thought going into it. I haven't been hitting at all. I was telling Melanie [Oudin] to be a little nice to me tonight. I've had zero desire to go hit, so I haven't.
Ford: And you're not going to make up your mind?
Davenport: It's completely uncharted territory, trying to decide, "Am I ever going to want to go out there and practice again?" Probably not. I don't know what happens next April or something, but certainly with two kids, and traveling, it's just not really in the equation for us right now, and I doubt that it will be.
Ford: The main thing is you just don't want to come back and answer all those questions again about what it's like to travel with two
Davenport: We were gone for two weeks in November, and literally, a week into it, my son was crying and just wanted to go home. The more I've done it, I don't think it's a great place for kids on the road, and our family would have to be split up because of [husband Jon Leach's] work. Would I ever go play doubles? Maybe, but I doubt it. Ilana [Kloss, the World Team Tennis commissioner] and I are talking about me playing, but obviously that's a completely different ballgame. The other thing is that I had to sign a retirement letter to the ITF, and if I ever want to come back I have to give them three months' notice [Editor's note: In order to be registered in the anti-doping testing pool] and that hasn't happened. Even if I was at Indian Wells, feeling good, I couldn't play. You have to do the due process.
Ford: Everyone says the second kid is exponentially more work. Have you found that to be true?
Davenport: [Laughing] Yeah, we have our hands full, we feel like we don't have a lot of free time, and she's the best baby you could possibly ask for.
Ford: You've never wanted to be put in a box, but the fact is with the way the women's game is going now, you do have options if you want to take them. You can come back on your own terms if you want to. Is that comforting to you?
Davenport: It is, and I thought about it a lot the first time around. I was really inspired and energetic to come back. I actually thought this time I would want to start practicing and just see what happened, not necessarily put a schedule down. And it literally just hasn't happened. I know the opportunity's out there. A lot of people say, "You should just come back for Wimbledon." I have no desire at this point to put in the work that I know it takes for me to perform at an acceptable standard. I'm not naturally fast. I can hit the ball fine, but for me to start moving, I don't know if my body will hold up. But it's really been proven the last few years that -- how can I say this the right way? -- it's definitely a possibility, a good possibility, that a good, strong player coming back on the women's tour is going to have success. Time and time again it's happened.
Ford: One of the main things Amelie [Mauresmo] said was that she didn't want to train anymore.
Davenport: I have no problem going to tournaments and playing. It's when I'm at home and the hours it would take to put in. That's the part that gets to be a grind. I was actually really, really happy for Amelie. She's incredibly talented, but she's always seemed to have a tortured relationship with tennis, where it comes so easily to her and she looks so pretty playing it, but everything that goes with it, it never seems like she liked it. The mental part of it, the traveling, the training. Reading the quotes, it seemed like she'd found her little peace.
Ford: Quick question on Andy Roddick. It took the Wimbledon (final) loss for people to really start giving him credit for something he's been accomplishing for a long time, which is
Davenport: Consistency, first of all. It's so hard in this country, unless you're winning the Slams, they don't care about consistency all that much. Where he has impressed me most is his desire to want to get that next Slam. I don't think it's about the ranking with him. He's turned over his ego to his different coaches and followed their path and believed in them and worked hard. He wants it so badly. I was really sad for him after Wimbledon. Those are tough losses, I mean, I know, I was right there with him in that. He probably is getting over it now, you go back to playing, but it's still hard in the beginning, those first few tournaments.
Ford: Both Australian Open draws could be super-interesting, but the women's really has a chance to be.
Davenport: It's the first Slam I'm excited to follow in so long, with [Justine] Henin coming back. Kim [Clijsters] took herself out of the fold after the U.S. Open, and I think you're going to see her play like that: in spurts, then home for a while. Finally, we have some other stuff to talk about instead of how bad the women are, what they're failing at, and the nerves, and what this one can't do. It's going to be a lot more exciting. Can Justine come back and win? Can Kim win another one? Is Serena [Williams] going to feel more challenged and train harder in the offseason? Will Venus [Williams] show up? It's a lot more positive storylines instead of "Will we see Safina break down on the court again?" Maria [Sharapova] is another positive storyline, if she just proves her serve is a little more solid. It's just been so negative on the women this whole year. And not wrongfully so. It was a horrible year for women's tennis.
Bonnie D. Ford covers tennis and Olympic sports for ESPN.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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