INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA — Late afternoon in the early rounds of the BNP Paribas Open in the California desert, Pam Shriver was spending the day.
There was a practice and strategy session with Donna Vekic, the talented 26-year-old Croatian who has been helping out with her coach since October. She’s been on and off with the WTA Tour’s new director of protection, Lindsay Brandon.
She was also spending time with a woman named Karen Dennison-Clark, who contacted Schreiber as a sexual abuse survivor in February.
Here’s what Schreiber looks like these days. While she’s long been known to fans as her 21-time Grand Slam doubles champion and top-tier television her analyst, Schreiber’s life took a turn last year when she was in her teenage years. That changed when she first spoke openly about the man who mentored her when she was young. Don Candy, who died in 2020, aged 50, and Schreiber, 17, had their relationship go beyond coaching.Schreiber now said her relationship, which lasted five years, was sexually and emotionally abusive. I understand
Ever since she told her own story, Schreiber’s presence has become a test of juggling often conflicting duties. She’s also the spearhead of an abuse-exposing battle: she’s one of the game’s few female coaches, and she’s one of the few survivors of the kind of harassment she sees as too prevalent. Also an ally.
Schreiber, 60, sat at a picnic table last week among fans crossing the ground at the BNP Paribas Open, the so-called fifth slam of the BNP Paribas Open, and said, “If it means helping a female tennis player… , I don’t mind hurting women’s tennis.” She with Clark by her side. “This is a tour that has been looking the other way for decades.”
She wanted to change the culture of her sport, so she told her story.
Shortly after Schreiber went public, WTA Tour chief executive officer Steve Simon announced that the organization would conduct a major overhaul of its protection policy and hire its first director of protection. Attorney Brandon began his mission late last year to make the sport safer by overseeing abuse complaint investigations and revising the WTA Tour’s rules and standards.
At her first tournament, the BNP Paribas Open, she said she met with Shriver and dozens of players and spent most of the first three months at work conducting an ongoing investigation. Her first big move will require anyone seeking eligibility for the Women’s Tour, including players and members of her supporting staff, to complete a new online conservation education program before the French Open. was to do
After Schreiber spoke with International Tennis Federation President Dave Haggerty, the organization has tightened its rules on prohibited behavior, requiring a wider range of people to adhere to its guidelines.
Her advocacy also led to a coaching gig with Vekic, a member of the WTA Tour’s Players Council, when a discussion about protection during a tournament in San Diego devolved into a conversation about Vekic’s play. Within weeks, Vekic added Shriver to her coaching staff, making her one of the few female coaches in professional tennis.
But her biggest impact has been on current and former players about her experiences with coaches whose behavior ranged from inappropriate to abusive to possibly illegal, such as the one that began with an email from Clarke on February 7. It may be in a quiet conversation with
Like Schreiber, Clark, now 65, was the Washington DC area’s top junior player in the 1960s and 1970s. Schreiber remembered that Clark was older and better than her, but knew nothing about why her fledgling tennis career had largely failed before it took off. I hid the reason for over 30 years until I told my husband in 2014.
“File it, lock the cabinets, throw the keys away and you’ll be fine,” Clark said. “But then my kids got older and moved out, and I had more space.”
In the summer of 1973, when she was 15, an up-and-coming coach saw Clark playing at a tennis camp, sought out her parents, and offered to work with her daughter. Clark had already competed in some of the most competitive age-group tournaments.Working with an up-and-coming coach felt like an opportunity.
The New York Times was unable to speak to Clarke’s former coach, but called Clarke’s cell phone and sent several messages through his email address, his recent employer and social media. .
According to Clark, that fall, a coach asked her to accompany her to an adult clinic they were holding at a resort in Charlottesville, Virginia, where her sister was attending college. At night, the coach pretended to meet the other participants in the clinic and took her to the hotel bar, but they weren’t there.
Clark remembers him giving her a glass of “something brown.” She remembers stumbling down her hallway into the coach’s room. The next thing she remembers is coming to her bed. She was lying on her back with a tennis skirt on her lap and he was wiping her stomach with a tissue. The coach then drove Clark to his sister’s townhouse.
“I woke up the next day thinking I couldn’t tell anyone about this,” she said.
She continued training with her coach for several more months, but her game fell apart when she could barely hold the racket without shaking.
Last April, Shriver said, “tennis podcast’ Clark was listening. In December, after successfully battling her breast cancer, she started composing her emails. The draft was kept on her computer for two months before being sent to Schreiber, to whom she responded 90 minutes later. They exchanged emails and had a video call a week later during which Clark filled in the details. , wanted to tell her story in the hope that it would encourage other women to tell their own stories.
Clark said last week as he sat next to Schreiber.
Schreiber said she felt the same way during the five years Candy was mentoring her. , which provides ideas for better certifying coaches and requires players to find another coach if they become romantically involved with their current coach.
She urged Haggerty to make crackdowns on abuse a third pillar of the federation’s independent executive body, the International Tennis Integrity Agency, alongside doping and corruption, including match-fixing.
An ITF spokesperson said on Friday that the organization and its conservation team, which includes investigators, pledged to “work with all survivors, including Pam, to ensure their voices and opinions are heard.”
Schreiber hoped the Tour would go faster than ever with a current commitment to formulate a new and clear code of conduct in 2024.
“That’s a full year behind what I was told,” said Schreiber, wearing his agitator’s hat.
However, she found her first meeting with Brandon to be encouraging. They are well paid and far exceed what women in other sports have received.
The tour’s code of ethics for coaches already discourages intimate relationships between coaches and players and prohibits relationships with players under the age of 18. Don’t fear retaliation.
The WTA declined to say how many cases it currently has on record.
Sometimes Schreiber’s conflicting roles collide. During the Australian Open, she took to Twitter to criticize Yelena Ryvakina’s coach, Stefano Bukhov, for aggressively and openly criticizing Ryvakina from her courtside coaching box. He was criticized by Rivakina, who defended him. There was talk of her breaking an unwritten rule — the coach doesn’t publicly criticize rival coaches.
Yet she said that so far, the act of juggling has proven worthwhile.
At a café Friday morning, Bradley Polito, the father of a sports-obsessed 7-year-old daughter named Madeleine, approached to introduce himself and thanked Schreiber for everything he said. .
Polito explained that he has no sports background. He said Schreiber’s story opened his eyes and drove him to make sure his daughter had a female coach.
“It’s like the North Star for us,” he said.