Friday, March 25, 2011
Now, here's a sad story that began circulating around the Internet yesterday.
Heather Crowe Conner, a former tennis pro who, according to a story in the Newburyport News, "played numerous times at Wimbledon and the US Open" broke her silence last week about a secret she had been keeping for the last 35 years: She had been molested and raped by her tennis coach for 15 years.
This tennis coach was not just any old pro at her local club or park, though. Conner reveals he was "a Hall of Fame tennis star widely considered 'the best doubles player in the world' and someone who had won 'many Grand Slam tournaments.'" The tennis pro, who was married at the time, became her traveling coach in 1975 when she was 14-years old. She recalls the abuse beginning shortly after they began working together and continued into her adult years. Although she managed to have a successful tennis career for several years she believed it was "directly linked to her 'special' relationship with this man."
Last year, she took an extended medical leave of absence from her teaching position to undergo intensive therapy to deal with the abuse and its effects on her life. Conner made attempts to file criminal charges but the statute of limitations on the alleged abuse had expired and her abuser would need to be extradited from South Africa where he currently resides. Nevertheless, she has continued to work on healing herself and according to the article believes "speaking publicly about her experience is a step in her healing process." Let's hope, though the road to recovery will be long no doubt.
So, let's face the elephant in the room: Who's the person Conner has accused of the abuse? She doesn't say, of course, but there are enough clues in the article to go on including 36, his age in 1975 when they first met - he'd be either 71 or 72 now; he's a Hall of Famer and multiple Grand Slam winner in doubles; he was married at the time and now resides in South Africa.
Here's a list of Hall of Famers from the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum website. I think if you do some quick research you could probably figure it out.
[Photo(s): NewburyPortNews.com, Bryan Eaton staff photographer]