Originally created 06/30/00

Controversy takes center stage



WIMBLEDON, England -- Alexandra Stevenson and Jelena Dokic, teens who blithely made brilliant Wimbledon debuts a year ago, are embroiled in uglier issues this year.

Stevenson lashed out Thursday, alleging hazing and racism on the women's tour, and Dokic saw her belligerent father-coach taken into police custody again.

On the courts, matters were more routine, with the daily dose of upsets and near upsets.

Defending women's champion Lindsay Davenport rallied from 0-3, 15-40 in the final set and won the last six games to beat Elena Likhovtseva 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. French Open champion Mary Pierce, seeded third, lost to Magui Serna 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4).

Pierce's elimination, along with No. 12 Amanda Coetzer's 7-6 (0), 6-2, loss to Lilia Osterloh, left only seven seeded players in the women's draw, the fewest to survive two rounds since 1976.

On the men's side, No. 5 Yevgeny Kafelnikov and No. 15 Marat Safin lost in straight sets, leaving only six seeded men still in the tournament.

The final match on Centre Court between No. 2 Andre Agassi and Todd Martin was suspended in the fourth set because of rain. Agassi led 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (3), 0-1.

Agassi and Martin will resume with the first match on Centre Court today. Top-seeded Pete Sampras will close the day against fellow American Justin Gimelstob. Sampras, going for his seventh Wimbledon title, was examined after his last match and found to have tendinitis near his shin, but is expected to play.

Stevenson, the only woman in Wimbledon history to go from qualifier to semifinalist, ended her freshman year on the tour by losing in the second round, 7-6 (3), 6-3 to Austria's Patricia Wartusch.

"I learned a lot and I got a lot stronger, but I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy," the 19-year-old Steven said. "There is a lot of hazing. ... I don't think any young girl should go through that."

Stevenson named two French players whom she said acted in a racist way toward her -- Amelie Cocheteux allegedly using a racial epithet and bumping her in the locker room at the French Open, and Anne-Gaelle Sidot pulling on her mother's hat.

"They kind of ganged up on me," Stevenson said.

Stevenson said she complained to the WTA Tour, "but they can't really do anything about it because the girls are pretty wild. It's hard to control people. It's not a perfect situation out here."

Cocheteux replied she may have cursed to herself in French because she was angry that Stevenson's mother was coaching her during their match in Strasbourg, "but I didn't say anything to her. This is all pure invention. To tell you the truth, I hardly speak a word of English."

Sidot was not available for comment, but WTA Tour chief executive officer Bart McGuire said the tour investigated the allegations and determined that Sidot did not strike Samantha Stevenson but did tip her hat. Sidot told the tour that Mrs. Stevenson used abusive language. McGuire said the tour decided no disciplinary action was warranted.

McGuire said the incidents with Cocheteux were investigated, but couldn't be substantiated.

"The Sanex WTA Tour takes any allegation of racism or physical abuse very seriously," McGuire said. "... There is no place on our tour for any racial inequities. All specific allegations are investigated fully and appropriate action taken."

Dokic, 17, made a big splash, too, with her victory over Hingis and surge to the quarterfinals last year, but she made headlines of a different sort this year when she and her Serbian-born father-coach Damir accused officials of rigging draws.

Her father embroiled her in controversy when he was arrested at the tournament in Birmingham last year and again Thursday after she reached the third round with a 7-6 (5), 6-1 victory over Spain's Gala Leon Garcia.

This time, Damir Dokic was detained by police after a loud argument in which he smashed a reporter's cell phone to the ground.

Dokic was speaking with British TV on a balcony overlooking Court 14. He drew a crowd of several dozen as he talked boisterously with an English flag draped over his shoulder, chanting: "England is a free country, England is a free country."

At one point, he shouted: "The Queen is on the side of democracy and the rest of the country is fascist."

Several witnesses described him as drunk. Four police officers removed Dokic. The reporter said he did not intend to press charges for the broken phone.