Tennis: Tauziat enjoying life in the shadows

A QUESTION: who was the women's Wimbledon runner-up last year? Graf? Out in the third round. Seles? Beaten in the quarter-finals. Kournikova? Don't be ridiculous.

In fact she is playing at the All England Club although, judging from the prominence she gets from the media and the Order of Play committee, you could be forgiven for not knowing it. Nathalie Tauziat is the big secret of the 1999 Championships.

You could tell that as soon as you saw where the No 8 seed had been put yesterday. Court 13 is nice enough as tennis theatres go, but the Centre Court it is not. Tucked into a far corner of the complex, if it was much more of an outside court it would belong to next door and members of Wimbledon Park Golf Club would be hacking divots out of it.

Never mind, the press seats were full. Well, they had people sat in them, even if they were not working for newspapers. "I'll clear them if more members of the media turn up," a steward said with a loud stage whisper.

He could have saved his breath and the consternation of the squatters, because few did.

Not that Tauziat minds. Last year she cut the same unobtrusive path through the field and when people noticed, she was serving against Jana Novotna as the first Frenchwoman in the final since Suzanne Lenglen in 1925.

"I don't care if I'm in the shadow," she said. "In France I was always in the shadow because I wasn't in the federation system."

Quiet in character, sober in dress you do not get the impression that Tauziat has a dress designer working on her court gear. Or if he is, it is a masterpiece of understatement. A simple shirt and schoolgirl-like skirt, she has fewer labels on her clothes than most of the crowd, who were bedecked with ticks and stripes. Only her play set her apart from most park players.

If Anna Kournikova had beaten Seda Noorlander 6-1, 6-1 in 51 minutes the attention might have centred on her tennis for a change, for Tauziat the indifference was profound.

"I don't mind," she said with a smile that belied her Mrs Grumpy image. "If they want to put me on Court 13 every match it will be fine. It's a good court. I just do things my way. I don't care if nobody pays attention."

They did not but perhaps they should have done because you would have had to go a long way to find better grass court tennis than Tauziat's yesterday. A finalist at Edgbaston and Eastbourne in the past three weeks, she is the form horse playing at the highest world rank - eighth - of her career.

From the start it was clear she had far too much variety in thought and stroke for Noorlander, whose passing physical resemblance to Steffi Graf from a distance soon disappears when you see the unforced errors. At 3- 0 down in a matter of minutes, you were left wondering how the 24-year- old Dutch woman had defeated Jennifer Capriati in the previous round.

The opening set was rattled off in 25 minutes even though Tauziat was only landing 38 per cent of her first serves. When she broke again and again in the next you would have put your house on the outcome if it had been almost anyone else with a 6-1, 4-1 lead.

Tauziat, after all, managed to lose from 6-0, 3-0 up against Natasha Zvereva in Eastbourne last weekend and with a history of similar collapses she would have a similar profile to Jana Novotna if she blubbed like the Czech. With her it truly is French without tears.

Defeats like the one inflicted by Zvereva leave scars on some players but Tauziat would have none of it.

"I didn't have the time to think about Eastbourne so it didn't affect me," she said. "I finished there on Saturday and I was playing at Wimbledon on Monday. My attitude is that it was a good result because I could have gone out in the quarter- or semi-finals.

"I must have had a good reaction because I'm in the second week and I'm very pleased about my game. I feel confident. It's so far so good."

She is in the fourth round now and only three matches away from a second appearance in the final. Not that anyone has noticed.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas