Pierce's father tells his side of story TENNIS

August 30, 1993|By Newsday

The cover of the Aug. 23 edition of Sports Illustrated features a picture of budding 18-year-old tennis star Mary Pierce, wearing a sad expression to match a headline that reads: "Why Mary Pierce Fears for Her Life." Inside is the story of why Mary, her mother Yannick, 43, and her brother David, 17, had decided to make a break from the 57-year-old patriarch of their family, Jim Pierce.

The man who has been described as the "tennis father from hell" turned down SI's request for an interview, but Jim Pierce related his side of the story in a weekend two-hour telephone conversation with Newsday. During the interview he denied charges by his daughter and wife, who has filed for divorce after nearly 20 years of marriage, that he slapped them around regularly and threatened their lives. He said he believes a bodyguard he fought July 12 at a hotel near Rome has a romantic relationship with his wife, and he said he has been cut off financially.

These are edited comments from Jim Pierce's conversation with Newsday:

Responding to charges by Mary and Yannick that he slapped them regularly, Jim Pierce said: "They're lying through their teeth. I challenge both my wife and Mary to take a lie detector test or truth serum or a voice stress analyzer test. That's the lowest blow."

Pierce previously admitted he once slapped Mary during a practice session, and he now admits to slapping his wife on one occasion.

"I vowed never to beat my family. I'm a fanatic about taking pictures. I have thousands of photos, and you will never find a mark on my daughter in any of them. I slapped my daughter one time in my life at a tournament in Italy. When your child . . . spits in your face, it's a reflex to slap them. I wanted to hit the ---- out of her, but I didn't swing that hard. She turned her head, and I knocked her glasses off.

hTC "I slapped my wife one time 12 years ago, but I had just cause and she knows it. I never had to do it again."

Pierce said he went to Italy because his family emptied his bank account and he wanted to talk to them. He admitted his rage toward bodyguard Michel Bosio also was fueled by his belief Bosio is having an affair with Yannick.

"I think this guy is my wife's boyfriend. They're deluding everybody. Francoise Durr [a former player who sometimes traveled with Mary] told me this guy and my wife would go off in a corner and have a party.

"I beat the hell out of the bodyguard in Italy."

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