Watching Amelie Mauresmo beat that dirty, no-good, rotten, pig-stealing, uh, I mean, the plucky little Belgian Justine Henin yesterday at Wimbledon, I was pleased to see the French player's vindication. Amelie, you might remember, won the Australian Open earlier this year over Henin only after Henin, losing soundly, pleaded illness and defaulted, thus leaving a little question mark forever over Amelie's victory, her first Grand Slam win.
It happened before, in 1921, when the legendary Suzanne Lenglen faced the U.S. champ Molla Mallory in the American championship at Forest Hills. The supposedly uncrackable Lenglen was losing 2-6, love-thirty, when she retired to the sound of hisses in the crowd. The next summer, the two players again faced each other in the final of Wimbledon, which Lenglen won 6-2, 6-0. Billie Jean King tells the story this way:
Afterwards, Lenglen reportedly told her opponent, "Now, Mrs. Mallory, I have proved to you today what I could have done to you in New York last year." To which Molla reportedly replied, "Mlle. Lenglen, you have done to me today what I did to you in New York last year; you have beaten me.
Snap! But there are many great players who never won a Grand Slam, and it makes me think about acclaimed writers who have never won a Newbery Medal. For years, Avi was the perpetual bridesmaid, but he finally made it with Crispin: Cross of Lead in 2003. So who's missing? Gary Paulsen, for one, Nancy Farmer, Bruce Brooks: all have won at least two Newbery Honors while still seeing the big prize remain out of reach. Anyone wanna place a bet?