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Mary Joe Fernández: 1971—: Tennis Player, Television Sports Analyst

Displayed An Early Interest In Tennis

Maria José Fernández, popularly known as Mary Joe, was born on August 19, 1971, in the Dominican Republic. Her father, José, was born in Spain and he met her mother, Sylvia, on a trip to Havana, Cuba. After the couple married they lived in Cuba. When Fidel Castro's Revolutionary Army took control of the country, the Fernández family moved to the Dominican Republic. When Mary Joe was three months old, the family moved again to Miami, Florida, when José took a job with an American investment company.

José Fernández played tennis with his older daughter, Mimi, to strengthen her back muscles. Little sister, Mary Joe, liked to tag along on these outings when she was only three years old. Her father cut down an old wooden racket to fit her small hands and he let her hit a ball against a wall while he played with Mimi. By the time Mary Joe was five years old, her father recognized her tennis talent and he signed her up for professional lessons.

In only five years Fernández became a junior tennis champion. At age ten she won the United States Tennis Association (USTA) national title for children under 12 years old. From ages 11 to 14, she won four consecutive junior singles titles at the Orange Bowl in Miami. In 1984, at age 13, Fernández won the USTA championship for ages 16 and under, and she won the United States Juniors Clay Court Championship. That same year Fernández played in her first professional tournament, the Lynda Carter-Maybelline Tennis Classic in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she defeated 33-year-old Pam Teeguarden. "I think Mary Joe has a tremendous future," former Australian tennis player Fred Stolle told the New York Times after this match. "She hits the ball very solidly off the ground. For a 13-year-old to beat someone with Pam's experience was a tremendous effort." Fernández became the youngest ever player to beat a professional. Later that year Fernández defeated Bonnie Gadusek, who was ranked number 11 in the world.

At a Glance . . .

Born Maria José Fernández on August 19, 1971, in the Dominican Republic; married Tony Godsick (a sports manager), April 8, 2000.

Career: Women's Tennis Association, professional tennis player, 1985-00; World Team Tennis, professional tennis player, 1999-00; ESPN, television sports analyst, 2000–.

Memberships: Women's Tennis Association.

Awards: WTA singles title, Tokyo, 1990; WTA singles title, Filderstadt, 1990; Australian Open doubles title (with Patti Fendwick), 1991; Gold medal, doubles competition, Olympics, 1992; Bronze medal, singles competition, Olympics, 1992; WTA singles title, Indian Wells, 1993; WTA singles title, Strasbourg, 1994; WTA singles title, Indian Wells, 1995; WTA singles title, Brighton, 1995; Gold medal, doubles competition, Olympics, 1996; French Open doubles title, 1996; WTA singles title, Berlin, 1997.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Trevor Edwards Biography - Accepted Wisdom from His Mother to Francisco Franco (1892–1975) BiographyMary Joe Fernández: 1971—: Tennis Player, Television Sports Analyst Biography - Displayed An Early Interest In Tennis, Balanced School And Tennis, Became Full-time Tennis Professional