Tennis Prose



Facing Serena Williams/Facing Steffi Graf Book

Finally I finished this project, which is a double book, a flip book, with two front covers, the back half (Steffi) is upside down. It’s 188 pages with tons of insights about what it’s like to play Serena and Steffi

Here’s a quick excerpt…

Andrea Temesvari: “She beat everybody really fast. And all the tournament directors were kind of prepared when they put her on, obviously the center court, it will be a short match. She beat everybody like under thirty, thirty-five minutes. 60 61, 61 61. I think some of them even in nineteen or twenty minutes. It was incredible. Sometimes she didn’t even sit down for the changeover. It was just so…not even sweat. And then that year in New Jersey, just before the US Open in 1989, I had a really good tournament. In Mahwah, NJ. The only thing difficult was that it rained some. Had to play the semifinal and the final in the same day. And my match in the semifinal was a three setter. Which I played like two and a half hours. Obviously, Steffi finished in thirty minutes [smiles]. And I think I finished at 12:30 and then the final was at 2. They couldn’t move it because it was on TV. So I didn’t have a lot of rest. I remember the tournament director asked me, if I lose, not to lose in under thirty minutes. Just make it somehow longer. Because they have live TV, it’s women’s tennis and it’s not good, blah blah. I said, No, I will try my best. And I think I lost 76 64 or 63 (actually 75 62). I don’t remember the exact score but I know we played a very good first set. Okay second set. But I was happy because my goal was not to lose 60 60. And actually if I wouldn’t have played so long in the semifinal, I would’ve maybe even got the first set. So it was a very good match. And Steffi was congratulating me. And I gave her a workout. So it felt good and obviously the tournament director and everybody were very, very happy that the match was longer than, you know, thirty minutes. I think it was an hour and a half. It was good. On hard courts. That’s not bad.”

“And Steffi was always a very shy girl, was not talkative. Nice to everybody if they said hello to her. But she wouldn’t start a conversation by herself. Only with certain people that she was close to. With me, she was always friendly. Not a problem. But I cannot say I was ever close to her. Since she did not spend a lot of time…I mean the Tour is difficult. You don’t become very, very friendly. But over time we talked and saw each other. Hi, how are you? How’s everything. How’s your day? Good. We always talked like that. But I wouldn’t dare ask her, Do you have a boyfriend? We weren’t that close.”

Question: Why was it so hard to play her? Was it enjoyable? Or was it just too difficult to enjoy?

Andrea Temesvari: “What was hard to play Steffi…first of all, when you have a girl that is so fast on the court, her forehand was one of her biggest weapons. And good serve. And a very uncomfortable slice. Which made it that one side you had a very low ball, the other side you had a fast ball coming. And she moved incredibly well. She saw the ball well. Her attitude was also incredible – never give up, very into it, very hyper, very positive with herself. And I think all that together was putting a lot of pressure on you. You knew that the ball was never lost until they said the score. I mean, she went for every ball which is normal. But she never gave up. All that together plays, you know, she had a role, everybody was afraid, she put this huge weight on everybody that she started to beat everybody and everybody started to be afraid. And all that. Probably it’s more mental in the beginning of the match. Then after you feel the power and she started to roll on you and win the games and you’re like, Oh I don’t want to lose too. I don’t want to be one of them too. It was that kind of pressure that she put on you. And she concentrated unbelievable. She had an unbelievable mental strength.”

Facing Serena/Facing Steffi book is available at Lulu for $9.99



  • catherine · February 24, 2019 at 5:00 am

    Scoop – I notice you’ve changed from createspace to lulu which makes it harder for me to order from the UK as it’s not on Amazon. However, I’d like buy the book so will see if I can get it .

    I used lulu once but didn’t enjoy the experience so went to createspace – can be a pain but I had someone do most of it for me.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 24, 2019 at 8:04 am

    Catherine, thank you, yes it’s Lulu for this one. I had big trouble with my PDF guy, took almost three months from November and then I learned amazon can’t do a flip book with upside down cover on back and flipping half the book. Because it’s a double book I want it to open as a book from both covers, so half the text had to be upside down. Instead of changing the whole PDF again which would take who knows how long with the guy I hired, I decided to go to Lul and they can do the flip style book. Steal learning the ropes and differences with Lulu, hopefully it will be easy to distribute outside of US. If not I can send you a copy personally. Why didn’t you like Lulu?

  • catherine · February 24, 2019 at 10:57 am

    The problem I found with Lulu was that making changes turned out to be difficult – not as easy as it sounded. I had a guy help me but in the end I decided to get the stuff self-published in the normal way through an independent outfit(2 people in a shed)and sold via Amazon. This was some years ago so Lulu may be different now. And I’m not technically minded. Createspace isn’t a walk in the park either, whatever they tell you. Typesetting has to be just right. I did a short story on Kindle not long ago and that took a couple of months.

    I’ll try to order this one from Lulu in US and let you know if I have difficulty.

    Re Steffi – the amount of mental strength she had from an early age was extraordinary. Not saying she never lost a match but most opponents were beaten before they got out of the dressingroom. No coach can inculcate that.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 24, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    Thank you Catherine. Nothing is easy about publishing or self publishing, it’s a lot of work and detail and edits. But it’s all worth it when you get positive feedback. Steffi may be the greatest player of all time, several insist in the book she could best Serena. Her slice was the best and we have seen time and time again how slice and spin have thwarted Serena. Also it was pointed out how Serena has shown vulnerability and mental fragility on the court, Steffi never did. Interesting debate. I tend to favor Serena to overpower Steffi with her big weapons but some people convinced me to doubt that evaluation.

  • catherine · February 25, 2019 at 2:37 am

    Scoop -I’ve ordered the book – look forward to reading it. The Steffi/Serena debate will go on and because they played in different eras there’s no real answer to it. Serena has a better serve and more sheer power but I’d agree with those who say Steffi was mentally stronger. And superior mobility.I’m glad I was still around tennis to see her win her Grand Slam. And if she hadn’t had so many physical problems who’s to say she wouldn’t have pulled off another one ?

    Gabriela Sabatini was not on Steffi’s level as a player but they did play many times and you never got the impression Gabriela feared her – maybe because they’d played doubles together early on and also because she seemed to accept her role as runner-up. So there was never the rivalry which Steffi needed to challenge her dominance.

    When Graf was around 16/17 I went to Hilton Head where she was playing and did an article which I called ‘The Space Around Steffi’ because that’s exactly what she had, even at that age.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 25, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Thanks so much Catherine, hope you really enjoy it. Steffi was about as dominant as any tennis champion ever was. And then when a serious challenger did emerge to threaten her domination, a tragic attack in Germany ended this player’s chances. And Steffi resumed her total dominance except for a few tough losses to Sanchez-Vicario. Steffi’s body probably broke down more due to all the training she did, than due to the physicality of her matches. Nobody had more easy, quick wins in the WTA than Graf did. Not sure what you mean about “space around Steffi”, was it because she was so protected and nobody was allowed to get close to her? Rennae Stubbs effectively broke that barrier and they became close friends, which they still are today. Rennae is a big part of this book, her insights were fantastic.

  • catherine · February 25, 2019 at 10:31 am

    As far as I can remember, I meant to suggest a metaphorical kind of space because she was so good so young and that set her apart a bit – also her father was a constant presence for several years, so yes, she was protected from intrusion by media etc. She wasn’t unpopular in the dressing room, the other girls liked her, but she wasn’t close to anyone until later in her career.

    I think part of the ‘space’ was also the sense that here was a kind of genius on the court – someone special. That feeling was very strong in the eighties when Steffi appeared. Aura I suppose. You just recognised it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 25, 2019 at 10:35 am

    Catherine, another thing several players mentioned is that they never saw Steffi, when she played she ran into the locker room and out, after the match, in and out, now shower. She was full speed all the time, down the halls. Nobody ever saw her except for like flashes. She definitely kept her distance. Stubbs was able to somehow develop a friendship with her despite her shyness and avoidance of contact with other players. Interesting to hear how she explain how she managed to create that friendship with Steffi.

  • catherine · February 25, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    Yes, I would have mentioned that too, it was well known that Steffi didn’t hang out in the dressing room, but I probably didn’t emphasise that aspect because it might have come out sounding as though she was arrogant and stand-offish, which of course she wasn’t. Just didn’t buddy around – there were different types of ‘spaces’. Her father had something to do with this I think – ‘no fraternising with your enemy’.
    I wonder how the WTA today would have coped with Peter Graf.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 25, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    Steffi was extremely shy, she was a tennis machine. One player said the locker room culture was different back then, it was not social, unlike today. She said Hingis really changed the culture as she would stay in the locker room to hang out and talk with the players. Hingis changed it from the way it was with Seles and Graf who were anything but social in the locker room. Sampras was also anti social in the locker room, he wouldn’t talk with anybody.

  • catherine · March 1, 2019 at 2:59 am

    Scoop – your book arrived yesterday which was pretty quick service ! I’m mainly interested in Steffi because she was more my era – one point I’ve already picked up is the emphasis she placed, and other people noticed, on her ability to let go of the past, as a player and as a person. This allowed her to survive the various ups and downs in her personal life and helped her on court. Unlike Andre she could never have written her autobiography. What’s gone is gone. That’s a kind of thinking she might pass on to Kerber, even might have tried in their various chats. Angie has probably heard this – she often mentions starting each tournament or match ‘from zero’ but she’s not doing it. She’s brooding on past failures and repeating them. Steffi isn’t that way – perhaps neither is Federer and other great players. They let bad stuff just fall through the seive.

    Also interesting – Steffi considered Martina N to be her greatest opponent because the contrast in their styles was a challenge and the match she most vividly remembered was a loss to Martina at the USO. I saw the match and I still remember it too. Martina coming in on her swinging lefty serve caused Steffi problems. Then other girls were starting to play like Steffi. You get the feeling she wished they weren’t doing that. She regretted the disappearance of s/v.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 1, 2019 at 6:23 am

    Happy to heart this Catherine, hope you like it. Steffi is an important figure in sports history and should not be forgotten. This is the only book about her as far as I know. Steffi probably doesn’t care much about being remembered but her best friends like Rennae Stubbs do care and feel she should not be forgotten, as Stubbsy states in the book. Graf has been through the ringer a few times, she endured many tremendous sufferings particularly off the court yet she was so strong mentally she overcame it. Such a fascinating character and champion. I hope this book is judged to have paid proper tribute and respect to the great Steffi Graf. and also Serena.

  • catherine · March 1, 2019 at 9:15 am

    Steffi will never be forgotten any more than Maureen Connolly – both won the Grand Slam at 18 years old – separated by 36 years.

    Gracious and prescient comment from Martina after losing Wimbledon final to Steffi in 1988: ‘If you have to lose you might as well lose to the better player on the final day and pass the torch, if you can call it that.’

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 1, 2019 at 10:20 am

    Catherine, as Stubby pointed out, nobody talks about Steffi anymore. I know it’s hard for the commentators to be nostalgic because everyone wants to be in the moment and talk about today’s stars but Steffi is like a Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson caliber great and she should be mentioned more. Ali and Tyson are always talked about today. They deserve it. So does Steffi.

  • catherine · March 2, 2019 at 6:44 am

    Scoop –
    Talking of not talking about Steffi – check Kerber’s Twitter/IG for details of a new documentary about Steffi – in Germany I assume. She’s not forgotten there. I was also amused to see a couple of sharpish comments contrasting Angie’s attitude to the game now with Steffi’s – as in ‘it’s all very nice Angie but can we see you on the tennis court some time ?’…. One thing you can be sure of, Steffi wouldn’t be all over the internet inviting flattering comments about herself while she sinks down the rankings. Suppose there’s a bit of a contrast between Angie’s current struggles (which go unmentioned by her) and Steffi’s graceful retirement as a legend in the game.



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