Pam Shriver, in an interview with Simon Briggs of the Telegraph, told how she had an insane relationship with 50-year-old Australian coach Don Candy when she was 17 year-old. She told: "It all started with a Christmas stocking, in the winter of 1971.
I found it a good gift for a tennis lesson at the Orchard Indoor Tennis Club. When I introduced myself, the coach was a guy named Don Candy, Australian. A former great player, who had won the French Open doubles title in the mid-1950s.
He was 40 at the time and I was only 9. I remember Don was very funny at times. hilarious, with that typical Australian sense of humor. I had a lot of fun and even though I didn't go back there to train for a couple of years; we started working together when I was 11 or 12.
So began a ten year journey that it would have shaped my life in many ways. " Pam and the pain of that inappropriate relationship: "In early 1978, I started playing on the Tour, at the age of 15 and a half. My parents could not realistically travel with me, because my sister was very young and my father he ran an insurance company that provided sustenance for the whole family.
So Don became, not only my coach, but also my only chaperone. He was next to me, practically every game I played over the next seven years. It was in my corner, for example, when in my debut season I beat Martina Navratilova in the semifinals of the 1978 US Open.
In the final, against Chris Evert, then I lost 7-5 6-4. high school to complete my senior year. But it was tough for me in 1979, getting back into school as a US Open finalist. It all happened too quickly. In fact after Wimbledon I didn't win a game in the next five months.
In between of the mi or bad time, Don and I found ourselves sitting in a rental car near Minneapolis. I had just lost yet another game in the first round and Don was talking to me about things I could have done differently, in short, the usual classic manager-player conversation.
At one point, however, I began to sob. I remember saying very clearly: something is happening. He said What? and I said: I'm falling in love with you. I was 17 year-old and he was 50 year-old."
Pam Shriver: "At 17 year-old I had insane love with my 50-year-old coach"
Unhappiness: The relationship caused Pam to be attracted to older men and to no longer be able to have a normal romance: "My relationship with Don was a traumatic experience for me.
The after-effects lasted well beyond the time we have. spent together. Our relationship shaped my entire subsequent romantic life. I had great difficulty forming normal relationships, my continued attraction to older men prevented me from maintaining healthy boundaries in my relationships.
The next five years were a time when everything became dramatically painful, when those impassable boundaries were crossed. I was so young that I didn't know how to ask for help. I didn't understand what I was getting into.
The relationship started to get physical, to get intimate. It really didn't. we had sex until the age of 20, two and a half years after our conversation in the Minneapolis rental car. But we shared the cams. ere. We have practically done everything else that two people who are attracted to each other do.
Don has never sexually abused me, but I would say there was emotional abuse. I felt so many awful emotions and I felt so alone. " The end of the relationship and the rebirth: "The next four seasons, after breaking up with Don, were the best of my career.
I have collected 15 titles in singles and have won over 80% of my games. In the meantime, back At home in Baltimore, I started dating some guys. It was interesting to see what happens when you end a relationship that is causing you so much stress.
Eventually, I was starting to experience some normalcy in my personal life. Many years later, I told my father about my relationship with Don. I never told my mother. But now I'm making this story public because I hope it makes a difference.
Our first and biggest obstacle is the culture of silence. If we want to protect the athletes of tomorrow, more people have to talk about their stories. We are talking about pitfalls that affect many, many people. The whole issue has to come out, allowing the elimination of the dark places of sport.
anto is about the solutions, I don't have all the answers. I think it is possible to educate young athletes, but you probably have to start before they even reach adolescence: maybe when they are 11, 12 or 13 years old.
While when they enter the main tennis tour, there are already so many models that have been set up. And then there are the coaches. the best way to protect later charges against them is to put them through an educational process before they get to professionalism.
The same goes for other credentials: physical therapists, fitness instructors, and so on. The point must be identified very clearly. These kinds of relationships are inappropriate and there will be consequences for those who cross the line.
This is a widespread problem and we need a broad spectrum alliance if we are to tackle it. One of the most important organizations, in this sense, will be the ITF because it organizes junior events. But all must come together, the WTA, the ATP and the four Grand Slam tournaments, to improve the processes of safeguarding tennis. "