With a glittering career resume that features 55 pro singles titles, three Grand Slam titles, 38 doubles titles, and the virtual holy grail of athletic accomplishment, an Olympic gold medal, Lindsay Davenport will be inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame on July 12 in Newport, R.I. On June 16, Examiner spoke exclusively with the talented tennis pro turned TV analyst and mom, touching on a variety of topics including her reaction to getting the big call from the Hall, how it felt to win Olympic gold, and which song is most likely to get stuck in her head.
You’ve been a shoo-in for the Tennis Hall of Fame for a while now because your career was so amazing. What were your thoughts when you formally found out you’d be inducted?
Davenport: Yeah, I found out last summer. I thought it could happen at some point; you never really know. But when I got that call it was pretty exciting, and to think about who else is in the Hall of Fame, the best of the best, it’s a bit overwhelming. I’m so honored, I’m so humbled, and I’m very excited for next month in Newport to be at the induction.
I know that the Olympics probably feel like a lifetime ago; personally I was [an 18-year old high school student in 1996]. Looking back, what are a few words you would use to describe the feeling of winning the gold?
Davenport: Yeah, it’s amazing to think back [to the Atlanta Games]. Eighteen years ago is, it was, a different lifetime. It was surprising, overwhelming, unexpected. At that time, I was good, but I certainly wasn’t great. I was an underdog to win and to look back and think that I was able to win the biggest achievement in sports in my home country…. My father was an Olympian so the Olympics meant a lot. I was just so excited to be a part of the team and to even be at the Olympics. I never really thought winning was going to be possible, but it’s certainly something that I treasure.
Where do you keep your gold medal?
Davenport: The gold medal gets bounced around quite a bit, but normally it’s in a safe. My son this year for first grade they were studying ancient Roman and Greek times so they did a Greek Olympics so we brought it to school for him one day. But typically, it’s locked away.
Wow, that must’ve been so fun for them.
Davenport: It was fun, Sherry. It was his class passing it around and it’s such a great honor. It’s just amazing to think that I still have one.
After the Hall of Fame Ceremony, the road to the US Open starts the US Open series. Who do you think has the upper hand this year?
Davenport: Gosh, that’s a great question about tennis. You never know which is player is going to be playing their best tennis at which of the year and certainly Serena Williams on the women’s side, she’s the biggest name, she’s the biggest threat, when she’s healthy, when she’s motivated. On the men’s side you’ve got [Roger] Federer, [Rafael] Nadal, [Novak] Djokovic, [Andy] Murray. We’ve got great players right now, and it’s the most exciting time in tennis. And the summer, especially for tennis fans in the United States, is the best time.
You can follow all the action of the US Open Series at USOpenSeries.com to see where the tournaments are, where they’re played, when they’re played, who’s playing, and it all culminates at the US Open at the end of August, beginning of September, the last major of the year, and that’s always my favorite. My favorite Grand Slam to play it, it was the first one I played in, the first one I won, and as an American, that is our home slam.
We have something in common: we both have four kids, mine are slightly older than yours but the spacing is very similar –I have about six years between number one and number four. How do you keep yours active and healthy?
Davenport: [Laughing] Well, maybe you can give me some tips about raising four kids in six years, because that’s exactly what we have. The biggest thing my husband and I do is be active, get them outside. They’re not allowed electronics, they don’t have these games in their hands. It’s all about being outside, playing tennis, being active. One of my daughters swims, but tennis is the sport in our household, and we’ve got smaller rackets, we’ve got bigger balls, the lighter balls. We make tennis fun for them, throwing balls. Even my two-year old, she has a racket and she runs around kind of banging it more on the ground than we’d like, but we love getting them out there on the court. Youthtennis.com has all the information on that. But there are so many more ways for younger kids to play tennis than when I was growing up and it’s certainly more fun these days.
I’m going to close out with a random question that’s kind of just for fun. You’re a mom, so I can only imagine the answer to this, but what song is most likely to get stuck in our head?
Davenport: Oh my gosh. Well, it was “Let it Go” for a few months. But hmm, what’s going on right now. “Happy,” they love that song by Pharrell, but certainly the “Frozen” soundtrack was a big one a few months ago.