Tennis: Wimbledon 99 - Author's uncanny tennis tale

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EVEN IF a Briton fails to win Wimbledon this year, next year should be different, according to the author Iain Johnstone.

Johnstone is a retired film critic whose novel Wimbledon 2000 tells the tale of twin boys, born by artificial insemination to a marathon runner from the sperm of a billionaire American businessman, who both become leading tennis players.

They are brought up on different sides of the Atlantic, one in middle- England, the other in America, and it is probably nit-picking to fault the apparently psychic Johnstone for this slight "factual" error regarding the Canadian-reared Greg Rusedski, as the book was published in 1991 - when both Rusedski and Tim Henman, both born on 6 September but a year apart - were unknown teenagers.

After many twists and turns throughout the novel the climax arrives on Wimbledon final day, with one of them playing the reigning champion for his title on a packed, emotionally-charged Centre Court. To find out which one, you will have to read the book.

A Florida newspaper is raising the question as to whether the father of Alexandra Stevenson, the 18-year-old American from San Diego, is the former basketball player, Julius Erving. Erving played for the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers and is in the Basketball Hall of Fame and a vice president of the NBA's Orlando Magic.

A copy of Stevenson's birth certificate, printed by The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, lists the father as Julius Winfield Erving II - the same formal name as that of Julius Erving.

The certificate gives the child's name as Alexandra Winfield Stevenson, born on 15 December, 1980. Asked if Stevenson was his daughter, Erving told the paper: "No, I have four children," he said before listing the names of his three sons and daughter.

Stevenson and her mother, Samantha Stevenson, a freelance journalist, would not comment about Erving at a press conference after yesterday's match at Wimbledon, a victory over her American compatriot Lisa Raymond. She read a statement defending her mother and then requested only tennis questions, but was immediately asked to clarify her mother's racism allegations. "There's racism everywhere in the world and it's no different in the tour because the tour is part of the world," she said.

The player's mother is white and has claimed that in addition to racism, her daughter has faced sexual advances from women on the tour.

The Stevensons had also threatened legal action if Alexandra was denied Wimbledon prize money. A dispute over her professional status was resolved and she will receive the cash.

Samantha Stevenson covered the Philadelphia 76ers when Erving played for the team. Asked once if her husband was tall because her daughter is 6ft 1in, she replied: "No, he isn't. I don't have a husband."

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