Tennis: Wimbledon '99 - Stevenson in row over cash

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CALIFORNIAN TEENAGER Alexandra Stevenson will go into her fourth- round match against Lisa Raymond today after a weekend of confusion over whether she is entitled to any of the pounds 26,280 prize-money she has earned so far. The Women's Tennis Association initially said she was not, as they had not been officially informed she was turning professional. Yesterday they admitted: "It's an issue for Wimbledon, because it's a Grand Slam event".

According to Wimbledon, the matter will be discussed by the Grand Slam committee, at the end of this week. Chris Gorringe, chief excutive of the All England Club, added: "We are reviewing all the facts and there is no decision yet."

Stevenson, 18, graduated from high school in San Diego last month and wanted to see how she fared in England before deciding whether to make a career in tennis or take up a place at UCLA to study drama. Having reached the top 100 for the first time, then beaten one of the world's top 20, Dominique van Roost, in the DFS Classic at Edgbaston, and romped through the Wimbledon qualifiers, she finally settled for the drama of the tennis circuit.

Now her mother, Samantha, has added to it. Informed on Saturday that her daughter would not receive any money, she announced she would sue the WTA. "I'm very upset about this," she said. "On the first day we went to the prize-money guy and he said you only have to tell the WTA if you want to protect your amateur status. We said we didn't wish to do that, so he said `you just play on'."

Play on her daughter did, brushing aside three higher-ranked opponents, including Julie Halard-Decugis, the 11th seed. Victory over fellow-American Raymond, ranked 37 in the world, would mean a quarter- final place against either Mary Pierce or Jelena Dokic, and should guarantee pounds 50,280.

Stevenson's mother, who is writing a book about life with her daughter, made more waves yesterday, revealing that Alexandra was called a "nigger" on court qualifying for junior Wimbledon last year. But she denied other reports that she had to act as a chaperone because of fears of rampant lesbianism in the locker-room.

"What I said was that the locker-room is a very difficult place for a young girl," she said. "It's catty and there's jealousy. That doesn't mean the tour's filled with lesbianism and racism."