Mary Pierce, A Pioneer; A Look Back At Indian Wells
By Anton Lagani, Lawn Tennis Analyst, Posted: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 6:24pm PST USA
Indian Wells--(lawntennismag.com) Years ago before the Russian Anna Kournikova's stunning beauty made her a wild success despite her never winning a singles WTA Tour level tournament, or before a later Russian, Maria Sharapova parlayed her appealing appearance and talent into millions of dollars, the two time grand slam winner Mary Pierce combined her good looks and power game to rock women's tennis.
At the 1994 French Open in Paris, the fashion capital of the world, Pierce, who competed under the French flag, won over the on occasion fickle French public with a white one piece tunic dress at a time when the vast majority of female tennis players wore only slightly more feminine versions of the male players' two piece tennis attire.
But a perhaps more memorable moment was Pierce in 1992 at the French Open in the fourth round
as a strikingly statuesque 17 year old in a classic white shirt and white pleated skirt taking on another teenager, the
American Jennifer Capriati. As she waved her hand to the ballboys to give her the balls quicker in between serves, then launched
into a routine of fixing her glasses, hair, clothes, shoes and racket before serving, Pierce was an interesting study in anger as
she appeared largely expressionless except for the occasional scream or stare.
Mary Pierce of France
“Every ball that I put in place, I guess she pounced on it. I've never seen her make that many shots that consistently in my life,” Serena Williams said.
Early in her career, Pierce sometimes glanced at or muttered words back to her father and sometime coach Jim Pierce, before he was banned for a time by the WTA Tour from attending its tournaments. Richard Williams, the coach and father of Venus Williams and Serena Williams of the USA, and not one to mince words said of Mr. Pierce and the WTA Tour, “they treated him like he was Black.”
2000 Indian Wells Quarterfinal. Mary Pierce def. Serena Williams 6-2, 6-1. Serena Williams has won ten career singles grand slams, including the 2008 US Open and the 2009 Australian Open, the last two grand slams contested. Williams seldom loses a match when she is healthy and had enjoyed immediate success on the WTA Tour since her fulltime professional debut in 1998.
But in the early nineties, Pierce hit her groundstrokes as hard as any female tennis player, if not harder. Nine years ago in 2000, the Frenchwoman met the current world number one Serena Williams at Indian Wells quarterfinals.
Pierce started the match strongly before overpowering Williams, the defending champion, altogether 6-2, 6-1. The American had rarely won three or fewer games in a tennis match since joining the WTA Tour.
On that day, Pierce's hit or miss, all or nothing aggressive baseline game was in top form. With her groundstrokes and her serves, Pierce hit line after line to take Williams nearly completely out of the match. The American was sent scrambling from corner to corner as she turned in a below par performance littered with errors.
“Every ball that I put in place, I guess she pounced on it. I've never seen her make that many shots that consistently in my life,” Williams said.
Pierce left the WTA Tour in 2006 due to a knee injury, but is said to be considering a comeback.