Jennifer Capriati’s recent troubles with the law remind us the history of tennis is unfortunately not only made of white dresses, polished speeches and ultra-bright smiles. Sometimes it's off the court that some really unleash their blows.
1/ Fauviau, a bedtime tennis story…
It's the story of a father putting the tennis success of his progeny first. Christophe Fauviau obviously had big plans for his two children, Maxime (15) and Valentine (12). In order to help them on their way, their father had a secret: mix an anxiolytic into their opponent’s water bottle and let it take effect. Between 2000 and 2003, he drugged at least six boys and twenty-one girls! But his escapades ended during the Bascons Tournament after a victim - a young man called Sebastian - decided to send the bottle and its contents to the police for analysis. The reason? The ease with which Maxime Fauviau won the prize - a flower bouquet and 100 pounds - in the final, at the expense of a completely groggy opponent, and that Sebastian in the semi-final felt more inclined to take a nap than to launch a winning serve. The analysis revealed the presence of the drug Temesta. More seriously, it was also the substance found during the autopsy of Alexander Lagardère. On the 3rd of July 2003, the 25-year old missed a curve and crashed into a tree. The significance? A few hours earlier, he had played and lost against Maxime Fauviau ... Arrested late July 2003, following a trip to Egypt, where he was accompanying his daughter to an international tournament, Christophe Fauviau was sentenced on March 9th, 2006 to eight years in prison.
2/ A chopping forehand…
Almost twenty years ago, on April 30th 1993, the world discovered the face of Günter Parche. And not is best side. 38 years old, the unemployed German was in the stands at the quarter-final of the Hamburg tournament between Monica Seles and Magdalena Maleeva. The former, then World No. 1, irritated him to no end. Only 20 years old, the Yugoslav was gunning for a fourth straight title at Roland Garros, surfing on a wave of success, preventing Parche’s compatriot, and the object of his obsessive desire, Steffi Graf, from perching her pert bottom on the world number one throne. So in Hamburg, Günter planned everything. Well placed behind Seles’ bench, he took advantage of a change of side to plant a kitchen knife between her shoulder blades. The 12-centimetre-long blade miraculously missed any vital organs and for his actions, Günter Parche, recognized by experts as mentally retarded, was sentenced on the 30th of October 1993 to a two years suspended prison sentence and psychiatric care. For the attacker, the important thing wasn't that: thanks to him, at least in part, Steffi Graf reclaimed the throne of World No. 1 in June 1993 following her success at Roland Garros at the expense of Mary Joe Fernandez. Monica Seles, meanwhile, made her come-back to competition in August 1995. After twenty-eight months of depression.
3/ Edberg’s devastating serve
September 10th, 1983, in the semi-finals of the junior U.S. Open, Patrick McEnroe faces Stefan Edberg. Best known for his ease at the net than for a powerful serve, the Swede would unwittingly hit Richard Wertheim. Wanting to avoid the Swedish first serve, the 61 years old linesman dodged it but was hit in the groin. Losing his balance, he collapsed and broke his skull against the concrete. He died five days later of a cerebral edema. Meanwhile, Stefan Edberg went on to win the final against the Australian Simon Youl and went down in history as the first junior to win the four Grand Slam tournaments in the same year.
4/ St Leger, the misnomer
Thomas St. Leger Gould. Type his name into Google and you won't get any picture. Barely a portrait. If he made some noise in 1879, for having reached the final of Wimbledon - beaten by John Hartley - he would make the headlines ... in 1907. Both tennis players, Thomas and his wife Emma were sweeping through all the casinos on the French Riviera when they quickly hit a cash-flow problem. But then, one day, the two lovers came across an old, but rich, Dane. A few weeks later, as they were preparing to board the train in Nice, one of their suitcases aroused the curiosity of a porter who, relying on his intuition, quickly alerted the police. Opening the bag, they discovered the body of the Scandinavian cut into pieces. Emma Thomas and St. Leger Gould saw out the rest of their days from inside a prison cell.
5/ Sex, drugs and big cars
Take repeated physical problems, a struggling career, and a cook/DJ boyfriend confusing flour and cocaine, and that's how you end up embroiled in a drugs bust. It's roughly the downward spiral of Claudine Schaul, former 41st in the World, winner in Strasbourg in 2004 at the expense of Lindsay Davenport, the Luxemburg player tried to forget her worries by falling into drugs and preparing the baggies that her boyfriend was selling. This little game would last until 2011, when one day, after having placed a wiretap on the dealer's phone, the Grand Ducal Police decided to arrest the latter at his workplace. In his car, actually belonging to the tennis player, the police discovered a few doses. Enough to bring the couple, in the process of separating, to court. On November 13, the Luxembourg court handed out an 18-month suspended prison sentence, a fine of € 1,500 and a license suspension of one year for drug trafficking and consumption to Claudine Schaul. To find Claudine now you have to go all the way to the 755th place in the world
By Charles Michel