Shriver as part-owner would be O so happy From England, she roots for Angelos

June 25, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

WIMBLEDON, England -- Pam Shriver always has been of the opinion that there is no place like home. Orioles and Colts, oh my.

"Growing up in Baltimore, you can't help but love them," said Shriver, who has joined Baltimore lawyer Peter G. Angelos' group that is trying to buy the Orioles. "My heroes were never tennis players. They were all Colts and Orioles. In Baltimore, you just had to love them."

That's the good news. The bad for Shriver is that a fractured right fibula is limiting her to doubles play at Wimbledon, and she is trying to overcome an incident last week in which Zina Garrison-Jackson accused her of making racist remarks during a match in the DFS Classic in Birmingham, England.

But she prefers to dwell on the good news.

"A few days ago, Peter Angelos, who is putting the Baltimore syndicate together to buy the Orioles, asked me if I'd be a very small peanut, a very minority shareholder, in their group should they happen to get the team," she said. "I think that would be exciting."

The opportunity with the Angelos group is one of several the 30-year-old is trying to develop in Baltimore as a bridge to her future.

Always involved in her Lutherville community, Shriver is now on the board of directors for Loyola College, McDonogh School and the Baltimore Community Foundation.

And she is working on developing an indoor/outdoor tennis facility in the city, which could open in fall 1994.

"What I love about living where I grew up is that you can be involved and be part of the community," she said. "Now, with the possible opportunity to be involved with the Orioles, I think it would be perfect in terms of my interests in sports marketing and the business side. It could be an appropriate bridge from what I've been doing on the tennis court -- if we get them."

The new owners of the Orioles could be determined Aug. 2 at a hearing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The fate of the team fell to the bankruptcy court two months ago, when the team's current owner, Eli S. Jacobs, entered personal bankruptcy.

In the meantime, she is still hurting over the incident with Garrison-Jackson.

"I couldn't have made that much news if I had beaten Steffi [Graf] on Centre Court," Shriver said. "And what really made it distressing was here was a time when three of the four semifinalists were African-American. I think it was the first time that has ever happened, and it should have been a great positive celebration."

It wasn't.

The tournament was to have been played outdoors, but bad weather forced it inside to a cramped facility that held maybe 20 spectators. Among them were family and friends of both players.

During the match, Shriver threw one of her typical fits, berating herself as much as anyone else.

"One guy in Zina's group was just carrying on too much and my leg was bothering me and I ignored him and ignored him," Shriver said. "Then I asked him to tone it down."

She proceeded to be irritated at herself and banged the ball around after plays were over. The chair umpire never gave her a warning, but Garrison-Jackson's friends apparently felt she was directing her ire at them.

"Then, I was muttering to myself, like I always do," Shriver said. "And I go to hit an approach shot and win the point and say, 'That was stupid, she backed up.' I didn't mean anything by it. The word stupid caused the whole problem.

"I asked my coach Eric Riley, who is black, who was 10 feet away, who I have worked with off and on since 1987, if I had done anything wrong. He said no."

But the comment reverberated through the small building and by the time Garrison-Jackson had spoken to her family and arrived at the post-match news conference, she told the media Shriver had made "racist remarks."

"I was hurt, because Zina and I had been good friends for a long time and that friendship is important to me," Shriver said. "She hadn't even asked me about it before she made her statements. And after she had, what could I do or say that could have changed the situation?

"We've talked since, and everything is cleared up. But I was shocked. If she had said, 'Shriver is hot-headed and obnoxious, and her behavior was obnoxious,' I would probably had agreed with her. But to have that word [racist] used, it was the most hurtful experience of my career."

Since then, Shriver has received support from the members of the Women's Tennis Association, though a letter was received criticizing her as president of the organization for her on-court behavior.

"Last weekend, I went to the players committee and the board and apologized and explained," she said. "But I also told them that they have a president with emotions and a temper, and if they want guarantees I won't act up on court again, I'm not the person for them.

"The trouble is they're spoiled because they had Chris [Evert] as president for eight years before me and she never did anything wrong."

For Shriver, it was really her first brush with bad publicity.

"Being from Baltimore, I'm very sensitive to racial issues," she said. "I'm also very sensitive to the fact that the path [for minorities] in tennis isn't clear. It just hurt so much that I would be accused of something like that."

Meanwhile, Shriver has a doubles match to play with partner Liz Smylie against Wiltrud Probst and Karin Kschwendt.

"We should win if we play reasonably well," Shriver said. "I can still feel my leg, but if it stays like this, I won't be pulling out of doubles."

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