Mary Joe Fernández: 1971—: Tennis Player, Television Sports Analyst
Became Full-time Tennis Professional
In 1990 Fernández began playing professional tennis full time. She won 40 of 50 singles matches that year as well as her first two professional titles at Tokyo and Filderstadt. She also did well at the Grand Slam tournaments that year. She reached the finals of the Australian Open, the quarterfinals of the French Open, and the semifinals of the United States Open. She lost the Australian Open final to tennis champion Steffi Graf, who had already won eight Grand Slam titles by this time. Although Fernández did not capture a Grand Slam title that year, she did end the season ranked number four in the world.
Fernández may have had an even better tennis season in 1990 if she had not suffered from numerous injuries. She experienced problems with her hamstring, back, and knee throughout the year because she did not exercise regularly, aside from playing tennis. Her coach, Tom Gullikson, started her on a consistent training and conditioning program to improve her endurance. He also encouraged her to change her game to become more aggressive. In particular, he wanted her to improve her serve and come to the net more. He also wanted her attitude to be more aggressive. "[Steffi] Graf and [Monica] Seles go into tournaments expecting to win. Mary Joe hopes she'll win," Gullikson told Austin Murphy of Sports Illustrated in February of 1991.
Fernández continued to do well in 1991. She reached the singles semifinals of the Australian Open and Wimbledon and the quarterfinals of the French Open. She also won her first Grand Slam title, capturing the doubles title of the Australian Open with Patti Fend-wick. In 1992 Fernández reached the singles finals of the Australian Open for a second time and she advanced to the semifinals of the United States Open. However, the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain were the highlight of the year for Fernández. She not only won a gold medal in the doubles with Gigi Fernández of Puerto Rico, defeating Spaniards Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Conchita Martinez, but she also won a bronze medal for the singles competition.
In 1993 Fernández captured her third professional women's singles title in Indian Wells, California. She also reached the finals of the French Open and the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. Much like Gullickson, her new coach, Harold Solomon, encouraged her to be a more aggressive player and come to the net more in order to defeat the higher ranked players. Her game struggled some in 1994 due to more health problems. Fernández had surgery in 1993 to treat endometriosis and the medications she started taking after the operation had affected her health and her tennis game. She managed to win one title in 1994 in Strasbourg, although she did not do well at the Grand Slam tournaments. This was the first year she had dropped out of the top ten rankings since 1990. Fernández used her illness to educate other women about the problem of endometriosis. "At a time when so many professional athletes are boorish, arrogant and self-absorbed, how refreshing and gratifying it is to meet someone like Mary Joe Fernández—at or near the very pinnacle of her sport—who's willing to give of her time and energy for something larger," wrote Art Carey of Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service in March of 1996.
- Mary Joe Fernández: 1971—: Tennis Player, Television Sports Analyst - Two-time Olympic Champion
- Mary Joe Fernández: 1971—: Tennis Player, Television Sports Analyst - Balanced School And Tennis
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