Stevenson wins amid controversy

Her mother's comments, questions about paternity overshadow 3-set victory

July 01, 1999|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,SUN STAFF

WIMBLEDON, England -- It should have been a moment to revel in Alexandra Stevenson's grace under tennis pressure, to decipher her ability to rap a running forehand down the line while facing match point and to recount her joyous advance from nowhere to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.

Instead, the 18-year-old from San Diego entered a media shark tank yesterday after she defeated Lisa Raymond, 2-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-1.

She was asked to comment on her mother's reported statements about racism and lesbianism in women's tennis.

She was questioned about her paternity.

Finally, someone got around to asking her about the match.

"I intend to be around for a long time, and I have worked hard to be able to win and have the privilege of coming into the interview room," Stevenson said in a prepared statement. "I don't want any misunderstandings, so let's please talk about my tennis."

But it was difficult to talk of tennis with so much else swirling around Wimbledon.

First, there were the comments over the weekend attributed to Samantha Stevenson, a single mother and free-lance journalist who has shepherded her daughter's career.

Samantha Stevenson, who is white, said that her daughter, who is of mixed race, was subjected to a racial epithet while trying to qualify for last year's Wimbledon juniors tournament. She also reportedly said Alexandra has faced sexual advances from women on the tour.

Alexandra Stevenson said her mother was "misquoted in different ways." But she said she was called a racially offensive name in a junior event.

"When you think about it, there's racism everywhere in the world and it's no different in the tour, because the tour is part of the world," Alexandra Stevenson said.

The Stevensons declined to comment on yesterday's Sun-Sentinel of South Florida report that delved into her paternity. The father listed on her 1980 California birth certificate was Julius Winfield Erving II, the same name as the ex-Philadelphia 76ers star, the newspaper reported.

Asked if Alexandra Stevenson was his child, Erving told the Sun-Sentinel, "No."

Despite the controversy, Alexandra Stevenson has remained bubbly on and off the court. This is a kid who, when given the choice of playing the Tin Man or the Wicked Witch of the West in a school production of "The Wizard of Oz," chose the witch because she wanted to be bad.

She also learned tennis from the likes of Bobby Riggs, who used to lay $100 bills under cones and tell her that if she knocked one over, she could keep the cash.

She never did.

But Stevenson has style. She used her power game and fearlessness to get by Raymond and advance to today's compelling quarterfinal against Jelena Dokic. It's the first time two qualifiers have gotten this far at Wimbledon, and the winner will be assured of becoming the first qualifier to reach the Wimbledon women's semifinals.

The rest of the women's draw is shaping up in compelling ways.

No. 6 Venus Williams outlasted No. 17 Anna Kournikova, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, to set up a fascinating quarterfinal against No. 2 Steffi Graf, who needed only eight minutes to complete her rain-delayed win over Kim Clijsters, 6-2, 6-2.

Graf has won 22 Grand Slams. Williams has won none, yet many consider her the sport's future.

"We've had some good matchups, and I'm definitely ready to compete and so is she," Williams said of her match with Graf. "I have to try and get to the semis. I never have before."

The other quarterfinal in the bottom of the draw will feature No. 8 seed and last year's losing finalist, Nathalie Tauziat, against Mirjana Lucic. Tauziat defeated Dominique Van Roost, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Lucic, who earlier ousted Monica Seles, defeated Tamarine Tanasugarn, 7-5, 6-3.

The last quarterfinal was set Monday, when No. 3 Lindsay Davenport advanced to meet No. 5 and reigning champion Jana Novotna.

Women's singles, fourth round

Steffi Graf (2) def. Kim Clijsters, 6-2, 6-2.

Venus Williams (6) def. Anna Kournikova (17), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Nathalie Tauziat (8) def. Dominique Van Roost (15), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Alexandra Stevenson def. Lisa Raymond, 2-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-1.

Featured matches

Today's men's quarterfinals

Pete Sampras (1) vs. Mark Philippoussis (7)

Patrick Rafter (2) vs. Todd Martin (8)

Andre Agassi (4) vs. Gustavo Kuerten (11)

Tim Henman (6) vs. Cedric Pioline

Today's women's quarterfinals

Steffi Graf (2) vs. Venus Williams (6)

Lindsay Davenport (3) vs. Jana Novotna (5)

Nathalie Tauziat (8) vs. Mirjana Lucic

Jelena Dokic vs. Alexandra Stevenson

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