July 05, 2008

Jaeger Bomb -- I threw the 1983 Wimbledon women's final to Martina: Now a Dominican nun, former women's tennis star Andrea Jaeger says in an interview she tanked the final against Navratilova after a confrontation with her father the day before. Jaeger, who was 18 at the time, also says she saw Navratilova that same evening and got the cold shoulder. "I couldn't have done that in her position, but all I thought at the time was, 'I've changed her routine and affected her. I can't go out and try in the final now'."

posted by wfrazerjr to tennis at 12:41 PM - 11 comments

What a bizarre story. It sounds like Andrea Jaeger's father and those unspecified locker room incidents turned the 18-year-old into a headcase by the time she reached that Wimbledon final -- the first and last time she'd ever reach it.

posted by rcade at 12:50 PM on July 05, 2008

I think Ms. Jaeger is giving herself an awful lot of credit. To quickly sum it up, look at the two players records. Navratalova-18 grand slam titles, 9 of them at Wimbledon. Jaeger- 0 and 0. To say you threw a match to the best player in the world doesn't really mean all that much. I could go play Nadal on clay right now, and I'm quite sure that the outcome of the match will not be contingent upon the level of effort I put forth. I know that the situation is different, as she was, at the time, a legitimate contender, but her "bombshell" smacks to me of narcissism. Why come out 25 years later and cheapen what Navratalova accomplished? To sleep better at night, really? Or to put yourself back in the news one last time, as Dominican nuns rarely appear in the headlines.

posted by tahoemoj at 02:01 PM on July 05, 2008

Jaeger didn't say she was going to beat Navratilova. She said that she lost on purpose. There's a difference.

posted by rcade at 02:09 PM on July 05, 2008

I completely understand the difference, sorry if there was a part of my post that indicated otherwise. That would be why I threw in the Nadal analogy which, I know, was extreme. But, to change it up a bit: I'm quite sure that the outcome of the match was not contingent upon the level of effort she put forth. I just think for this to truly be news or a "bombshell" Jaeger would need to show that she had a legit chance of winning, and I don't think her record indicates that she did. To defeat Navratalova in a minor grass court tune-up, as she cites to validate her chances, is vastly different than on the big stage. And I wonder what those unspecified incidents were. The article (did anyone else find it kind of poorly written?) seems to insinuate that they were of a sexual nature, and surely enough to give a beating to a young psyche.

posted by tahoemoj at 02:41 PM on July 05, 2008

In any sporting event giving less than your best effort is reprehensible, whether you have a legitimate chance of winning or not.

posted by jm_mosier at 07:33 AM on July 06, 2008

The 'bombshell' thing is a bad pun, rather than attributable to Jaeger, and the Mail is tabloidy at best. What you can say is that like Tracy Austin before her and Jennifer Capriati afterwards, Jaeger's talents were channeled in a way that got her to finals while fucking her up. (One reason why the WTA now has age restrictions and quotas for under-18s.) I don't think that 'cheapens' Navratilova's victory, either: while others emerged as the next big thing only to flame out, she kept her head and won her matches.

posted by etagloh at 05:46 PM on July 06, 2008

At this point, so far after the fact, to me the real question is "Who Cares?"

posted by emancipated107 at 08:42 PM on July 06, 2008

I think it's worth caring about, because the tennis community fed a lot of young phenoms like Jaeger to the grinder. In another interview, Jaeger talks about being offered cocaine and steroids by other players, and how she became so upset at player Wendy Turnbull's reaction to being beaten that she (a) let Turnbull win future matches they played, and (b) beat players who beat Turnbull. Jaeger was a total emotional wreck, and even in the spotlight of a Wimbledon final no one noticed. My favorite anecdote from the piece is on why Jaeger beat Billie Jean King at Wimbledon in 1938:

"When we were going on Centre Court for our semi-final, a lady offered her a towel and Billie Jean said, 'No, I won't need one. I'm not going to sweat in this match.' "I thought, 'Not only did you beat Wendy, now you've said this so I have to try hard.' "So I went out and beat her 6-1, 6-1. And I was through to the final to face Martina Navratilova, who I'd beaten before."
The ATP Tour is headquartered not far from me in Ponte Vedra, Florida, and I've seen young tennis phenoms at the airport. They're incredibly young, and Jaeger's experience ought to be a cautionary tale.

posted by rcade at 10:13 AM on July 07, 2008

At this point, so far after the fact, to me the real question is "Who Cares?" So if a few members of the Baltimore Colts Super Bowl III team came out and said, "We threw the game," you wouldn't care, huh?

posted by wfrazerjr at 03:31 PM on July 07, 2008

No, but if the New England team from Super Bowl XX did, I think there might be a collective shrugging of the shoulders.

posted by tahoemoj at 04:53 PM on July 07, 2008

And to make things worse... this story appeared in an interview in April.... doubly old news!!

posted by Fly_Piscator at 08:54 AM on July 08, 2008

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