Why are they famous? Mary Pierce

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Main claim: It's Wimbledon, so there's lots of tedious tennis played. Our screens will boast a green-and-white hush interspersed by coughs and overhead planes for the entire fortnight. So, who gives a toss about which one bangs a ball around the best? The object of interest is, in fact, the No 9 seed. We're not concerned with Mary Pierce because she's the greatest women's tennis play (she's not). No, we all cheer up when 22-year-old Mary struts on screen, ponytail rearing in the wind of her own commotion, because she wears silly dresses, makes silly comments, has a wiggly, bottom-gyrating, look-at-me walk, and then wears even sillier dresses. Yes, Mary favours what appear to be black, rubber, bathing suits with stripy skirtlets in a world of crisp whites. Dubbed "Mistress Shallow", the Mandy Smith of the professional circuit is royal, low-brow fun.

Appearance: Sadistic junior hockey mistress at a boys' grammar school ball. Leni Riefenstahl protagonist. Candia McWilliam (glamour novelist) meets Zodiac (striding Gladiator).

Girl Power: In the era of muscly old dykes with iron-curtain names, the press had no choice but to get into a pretend lather about Gabriela Sabatini. This was replaced by the soporific limbo of Sanchez Vicario, Martinez, Huber etc. Seles was good value for off-court poses, giggles and grunts, but she was stabbed. Now, thank the Lord, there are some glamour girls pouting up the rankings to dampen our yawns: beaming infant prodigies, black Americans with beaded hair and Russians in pigtails. But Pierce, with her problem father (see below), her rumoured liaison with Seal, and but one measly Grand Slam title to her name, is top soap queen.

Sins of the Father: Too numerous to mention. Jim Pierce went for verbal haranguing and physical mistreatment to mould his little princess into a murderous ball-bashing machine. He is now forbidden from the court. See also: the father of Steffi Graf, imprisoned on a charge of tax evasion, and the mother of number one seed Martina Hingis, who named her poor prodigy after a great tennis champion, pre-empting the careers officer's talk by 17 years.

Fame Prospects: Pierce needs to win the odd tournament. Alternatively, she could develop an orgasmic groan instead of a Seles-style grunt. Or she could set up a PR company with Liz Hurley and Caprice Bourret, her only rivals in the fame-and-frocks equation.