It’s funny – every time I look at Mary Pierce, I feel so sorry for the longtime veteran WTA tennis player.
I know Pierce has gone on to carve out a pretty respectable career for herself throughout the years, but all I can seem to think about is how humiliated Pierce looked as young player because of her moronic father.
However, Pierce has overcome a lot more than just her father and at this point, has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Pierce, 31, has appeared in six Grand Slam singles finals during her career-winning two of them-and has also claimed two Grand Slam doubles titles.
Pierce was born in Montreal while her French mother and American father were on a trip to the city. She was raised in the United States and lives in Florida, thus she has had or has been eligible for United States, Canadian, and French citizenship, and she has represented France in international tennis competitions many times.
Pierce was introduced to tennis at the age of 10 by her father Jim Pierce. Just two years later, she won the US national 12 and-under junior title. In 1989, she became the youngest American player to make her debut on the professional tour, aged 14 years and 2 months.
In 1994, Pierce reached her first Grand Slam final at the French Open in record-breaking style. She became first player to reach championship’s fourth round while dropping only two games. She conceded just 10 games during her route to the final, which included a 6-2, 6-2 thrashing of World No. 1 Steffi Graf in the semifinals. However, in the final, Pierce lost 6-4, 6-4 to Arantxa SÃ?Â¡nchez Vicario.
In 1995, Pierce won her first Grand Slam title by beating SÃ?Â¡nchez Vicario 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the Australian Open. She reached her career-high singles ranking of World No. 3 that year.
In 1997, Pierce was back in the Australian Open singles final, where she lost 6-2, 6-2 to Martina Hingis. She also lost in that year’s WTA Tour Championships final to Jana NovotnÃ?Â¡ but was a member of the French team which won the 1997 Fed Cup.
Pierce won her second Grand Slam singles title and her first Grand Slam doubles title at the French Open in 2000. In the singles final, she defeated Conchita MartÃ?Ânez 6-2, 7-5 to become the first French woman to claim the title since Francoise Durr in 1967. Pierce also partnered with Martina Hingis to win the women’s doubles crown (the pair had also finished runners-up at the Australian Open earlier that year).
Pierce also helped France win the Federation Cup for a second time in 2003 and in 2004, Pierce won her first title since the 2000 French Open to bring her career total to 16 singles titles. As I stated earlier, during her first few years on the tour, Pierce was better known for the behavior of her father, more so than her performances on court.
Jim Pierce, who also coached Mary, often shouted abuse at her opponents during matches. On one occasion when he was sitting in the stands, he notoriously screamed: “Mary, kill the bitch!”
He was also reportedly often verbally and physically abusive to Mary during practice sessions and after defeats and was ejected from the French Open in 1993 after he punched a spectator, following which he was banned from all Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour events until 1998.
The incident also prompted the WTA to pass a new rule (commonly referred to as the “Jim Pierce Rule”) which prohibits abusive conduct on the part of players, coaches and relatives. Mary dropped her father as her coach in 1993 and took out a restraining order against him. A few weeks later, he got into a fight with her bodyguard at a hotel where she was staying. He then sued her claiming that he had been promised 25% of her earnings as a tennis player, and she paid him US$500,000 to drop the suit and to leave her alone.
She withdrew from the Wimbledon tournament in 1994 after a British tabloid newspaper threatened to smuggle her father into the grounds.
Pierce was engaged for a period to former Major League Baseball player Roberto Alomar. However the two stars are no longer together. Following her split from her father in 1993, Pierce was coached by Nick Bollettieri, whose tennis academy she had briefly attended as a teenager in 1988. Her brother David is currently her regular coach. She has also recently become somewhat reconciled with father Jim, and occasionally does practice sessions with him.
In 2005, Pierce reached the French Open singles final for a third time, where she lost to Justine Henin-Hardenne. She confirmed that the appearance, which followed victories over higher-ranked players including No. 1 Lindsay Davenport, was no fluke when she reached the quarterfinals of the 2005 Wimbledon tournament for the first time since 1996. Pierce faced Venus Williams in the quarter-final and lost the match after a thrilling second set tiebreak consisting of 22 points.
After training hard in the off-season in a bid for a major title in 2006, Pierce made her debut at the Australian Open and started very promisingly against veteran Nicole Pratt of Australia 6-1 6-1, before a surprising 3-6 5-7 defeat to Iveta BeneÃ?Â¡ovÃ?Â¡ of the Czech Republic, denying her a third-round clash with Martina Hingis.
Pierce has not played since due to foot and groin injuries and subsequently withdrew from the French Open and Wimbledon. Currently ranked No. 9 in the world, Pierce recently announced her engagement to an Air France pilot.