With controversies about racism and prize money already swirling around her, 18-year-old Alexandra Stevenson today found herself answering questions about the identity of her father after a U.S. newspaper published a copy of her birth certificate.
As reprinted in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, the certificate lists Stevenson's father as Julius Winfield Erving II, which is the full name of basketball great Julius "Dr. J" Erving. Erving, now a vice president for the Orlando Magic, declined to comment through the team today and did not attend the NBA draft at MCI Center. He told the Sun-Sentinel that Stevenson is not his child; both Alexandra, whose middle name is Winfield, and her mother, Samantha, have declined to discuss the matter.
Alexandra Stevenson considers herself an African American of mixed racial descent. Samantha Stevenson, a freelance sports journalist, is white. She covered the Philadelphia 76ers when Erving was in the midst of his NBA Hall of Fame career.
Alexandra handled the questions today with poise, plainly stating "no comment" when asked about the identity of her father. She also addressed the storm surrounding her mother, who told the British media earlier this week that she needed to protect Alexandra from racism and "the other girls on Tour." Several of the local newspapers also reported that Samantha feared that Alexandra could face sexual advances from other female players.
"My mother merely expressed our family's view of life, and she's right," Alexandra said, reading from a prepared statement. "Life on the Tour is quite tough. I think it's a shame some of the more sensational English newspapers reported her comments inaccurately."
Samantha earlier was at odds with the WTA when Tour officials told her Alexandra was not allowed to claim prize money from this event because she did not go through the proper channels to announce her professional status. But Wimbledon officials overruled them, saying Alexandra, who graduated from high school last month, will be paid for this tournament. She is entitled to at least $79,442 after defeating fellow American Lisa Raymond, 2-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-1, today.
A British Invasion
Jim Courier said he was thankful for the rain that interrupted his match with Tim Henman on Monday. Courier lost the marathon match, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-7 (7-5), 9-7, when it resumed today, but at least he didn't feel that he was at a planetary disadvantage. "I think the break cooled Tim off because he was playing like an alien abduction out there, like someone invaded his body and turned him into the greatest volleyer in the universe," he said. "Today he came back to earth a bit, which was nice."
Courier also had some words for the net cord, which tripped up several of his groundstrokes, usually favoring Henman. "The net cord and I need to have a little chat," he said. "I need to get one of those British nets and bring it into my bed and sleep with it and cuddle with it at night a little bit." . . .
Russia's Anna Kournikova said her 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 loss to American Venus Williams had nothing to do with "tactics or anything. This is a ladies' sport, and women tend to get nervous, or something, more than men, you know. Men just play, so probably women's tennis is a lot about mental toughness."
University of Virginia men's tennis coach Dick Stockton and partner Jaime Fillol of Chile won their first-round match in the 45-over doubles tournament, defeating Ken Rosewall and Fred Stolle, 6-2, 6-3. Stockton and Fillol, who won the title two years ago, will face John Newcombe and Tony Roche in the second round.
Staff writer Tara Finnegan contributed to this report from Washington.
CAPTION: Alexandra Stevenson scores a three-set win over Lisa Raymond.