Lindsay Davenport has been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Knowing her, when word got out, she probably asked for a recount, just to make sure she hadn't bumped out somebody else more deserving.
She is 37 now, lives in Orange County, is married to Jon Leach of the famed USC tennis family of dad and coach Dick Leach and longtime pro doubles star Rick Leach, Jon's brother. Jon was a USC All-American and is now an investment banker.
Davenport had her fourth child in January and was notified of her Hall of Fame selection as she was about to give birth. The ceremony will be in July in Newport, R.I.
In a conference call announcing the news Monday, she described her life as a trilogy: First growing up, then tennis, now mom's days.
She won three major tournaments, plus an Olympic gold medal, and nearly joined a select group with a lifetime Grand Slam and an Olympic gold by getting to the French Open semifinals in 1998.
Like most North Americans, she hated the clay surface at Roland Garros. As a person, she hated little else.
She played in a sport that mostly eats its young. That didn't happen to her. Her incredible success included 98 weeks as No. 1. It also included getting through all that with an uncommon normalcy and sunny perspective. That may not have served her well on the dog-eat-dog pro tour, but it always separated her from so many peers who measured self-esteem only by their ranking.
As a high school player, Davenport's nickname was "Double-Bagel," a tennis term for 6-0, 6-0 victories. She had many, but the nickname was bestowed for her efforts to give away a game to overmatched opponents in obvious routs.
Her longtime coach, Robert Van't Hof, once capsulized what was special about his student.
"Lindsay is pretty much what everybody sees," he said. "She has a lot of friends. She likes a lot of people."
Davenport said Monday that she found tennis "by accident," and loved playing it ever since.
Her parents, Wink and Ann, were both volleyball players; Wink was good enough to play for the U.S. in the '68 Olympics. When Ann went to play tennis with a group of friends in Palos Verdes, she took Lindsay along. Soon, the 6-year-old wanted lessons, got them, got good and also became a bit of a tennis brat.
Years ago, she recalled whining a lot one day and throwing her racket. Soon, her dad was marching her to the car, tossing the rackets in the trunk and saying, "Well, that's it."
A mom-daughter conspiracy rescued the rackets, but the point had been made.
Monday, Davenport recalled her early days on the tour.
"I was in the top 20, but still a teenager," she said. "I'd tell my parents the tournaments I was going to. They didn't know much about the sport, but they always said I had to go to school."
Pam Shriver, then a tour veteran, once took note of the normalcy of the Davenport family, something foreign to the tour, and said, "I have never met Lindsay Davenport's parents and I love them for it."
Davenport was asked about which of her three majors — '98 U.S. Open, '99 Wimbledon or '00 Australian — meant the most to her. Her answer further confirmed the confidence demons she faced.
"I think the U.S. Open was the most special," she said. "That's probably because it was the first one. For any player who has some insecurity, winning a major means so much. I just cried and cried."
Davenport also said, "I always loved playing tennis. I didn't love being in the limelight, dealing with the media. Retiring was nice because I could just go into the background."