A behind-the-scenes look at the hugely popular and often controversial world of women's tennis featuring such household names as Venus and Serena Williams and Anna Kournikova. At a time when attendance and TV ratings for women's tennis are at an all-time high, Sports Illustrated writer L.Jon Wertheim, draws on his investigative talents and knowledge of the game to infiltrate the heretofore closed locker rooms of the women's tour and chronicle this remarkable era in the sport's history. With a narrative sweep that rockets along like a Venus Williams serve, it takes the reader from the year's first Grand Slam tournament--where a top player ignited a firestorm of controversy when she decided to come out-- to Venus' epochal victory at Wimbledon to the U.S. Open where Serena Williams defends her title and all the whistle-stop tournaments in between where the Russian vixen Anna Kournikova sent hormonally challenged teenagers, not to mention male sportswriters, into a frenzy, Venus Envy offers the reader the equivalent of a center-court seat and an all-access locker room pass. The book will contain a wealth of previously unreported, inside-the-locker room anecdotes about the marquee names in women's tennis and should engender much off-the-book-page coverage. There are more identifiable stars than ever before and the rivalries are intense and often rancorous. The book will even appeal to those readers with only a passing interest in tennis since many of the players have transcended the sport, appearing on the covers of magazine like GQ, Rolling Stone and Vogue.
If you think only male professional tennis players exhibit less-than-mature behavior on and off center court, you're in for a surprise with Wertheim's candid tell-all account of a year spent following the superstars and also-rans on the WTA Tour, from the 2000 Australian Open to the 2000 U.S. Open. Wertheim (senior writer for Sports Illustrated) pulls no punches as he profiles the egos, catty repartee, emotional battering and dysfunctional family relationships that drive Venus and Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis, Anna Kournikova, Monica Seles and some lesser-known professionals. Women's tennis is now "the world's most popular and financially successful women's sport," surpassing men's tennis in television viewership, but still lagging behind the men in prize money. The outspoken sportswomen are not unaware of their sex appeal and appear, for the most part, willing and eager to cash in on it. Sound bites range from petulant to downright insulting (Hingis), while a model-pretty player like Kournikova can exude icy diva vibes and garner huge bonuses even though she has yet to win a major tournament. After winning the 2000 U.S. Open, Venus Williams "talked smack" to then-President Bill Clinton, asking him to lower her property taxes. But underlying the bravado of these successful athletes is the specter of abuse and dysfunction. Wertheim is unafraid to name names and reveals that the "tennis dad" is even more dangerous than the "stage mother," among other unpleasant truths. The book should hold more than just tabloid interest for young women who aspire to tennis careers. 8 pages of color photos not seen by PW.