Pan Am experience 'was too interesting' for politically aware Shriver to pass up

August 08, 1991|By Randy Harvey | Randy Harvey,Los Angeles Times

HAVANA -- What's a millionaire like Pam Shriver doing in a place like this, far, far from the tennis courts at Wimbledon, Roland Garros and the White House?

"I think she has a chance to win a gold medal, basically," said Jamaica's Henrietta Harris, when asked that question after losing to Shriver in 39 minutes yesterday at the Pan American Games.

Actually, Shriver has a chance to win three gold medals. After receiving a first-round bye and beating Harris, 6-0, 6-0, in the second round, she already has reached today's singles quarterfinals. She also is entered in the doubles and mixed doubles competitions, both of which begin for her today.

"If I have to set a goal, it would be to win all three," she said yesterday. "Starting tomorrow, I have three matches a day -- nine in the next three days. I don't care what the standard of competition is, it won't be easy."

But that's not what Pam Shriver is doing here.

Attempting to regain her top-10 status while still recovering from last year's shoulder surgery, Shriver, 29, has climbed back to a ranking of 33rd in the world. And if that were the only thing that mattered to her, she would be playing on the pro tour this week in Canada, refining her game for the U.S. Open later this month.

Instead, she agreed to come here as player-coach of the U.S. team, which also includes fellow pro Donna Faber, a late substitute for the injured Kathy Jordan, and David Dilucia of Notre Dame.

"Late in my career, I've been very much wanting to participate in events that are unique to anything else I've experienced, and this is about as unique as it gets," she said. "This was too interesting to miss."

Most of the tennis players here have wanted to meet Shriver, some even asking for her autograph.

As for Shriver, a dedicated sports fan from Baltimore, she said that she wanted to meet Walt Williams, a basketball player from the University of Maryland.

But when she introduced herself to him at the athletes' village, she said that he spoke two words to her and moved on.

So perhaps they won't correspond, as she still does with a wrestler, a swimmer and two rowers whom she met while living in the athletes' village during the 1988 Olympic Games at Seoul, South Korea, where she and Zina Garrison won the gold medal in women's doubles.

What will she report to her fellow Republican and tennis partner, George Bush, the next time they play on the White House courts?

"Nothing he doesn't already know," she said. "IObviously, the system needs some adjustment. But I don't know enough to make any real profound political statements."

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