G'day to you all, here's hoping the Easter Bunny was kind to everyone and left lots and lots of yummy chocolate. I know I scored, still feeling those liquer choccies I had far too many of yesterday. Off to the gym for Debbie to work off all that chocolatey goodness. Oh yes, I'm supposed to post one of my articles, aren't I? While I was preparing to recommence my role as a Bared Affair reporter (any news on what the new venture is to be called, Aunty Andrea?) I came across this little article. It concerns Australian tennis player Alicia Molik and uncovers some of why her form increased so sharply at one point in her career.
Aussie tennis glamour girl Alicia Molik, dolled up for a night on the town.
Alicia displays some of the form that took her to number 6 in the world.
A rising tennis star reveals what has been behind her remarkable climb into the top ten
The umpire's voice, amplified by the microphone, rang out through the Belgian stadium: "Game, set and match to Ms Molik." In the stands watching, fans clapped and cheered and waved little Australian flags. I was glad I had made the time to come and see Alicia Molik play here. She was one of Australia's rising stars after her heroics at the Australian Open in January, reaching the quarter finals, where she had been defeated in three tight sets by world number one Lindsay Davenport. The finish had elevated her into the top ten, the first Australian women to do so since Wendy Turnbull in the 1980's.
Some hours later Ms Molik sipped cappuccino in a cosy little Antwerp cafΘ. The two of us chatted casually about places we had been and things back home. Although Ms Molik was born in Adelaide, she resides now in Melbourne. Then I asked the question every tennis journo in the world has asked, and hoped to get a straight answer. "What happened, Alicia? How did you suddenly get so good? What is the secret to your remarkable run of recent success?"
At nearly six feet in height and powerfully built with it, the striking blond Australian was tipped to ride her big serve, considered one of the best in women's tennis, right to the top, almost from the moment she made her debut on the WTA tour. For reasons no one really understood Ms Molik did not make the big splash everyone expected. The serve and heavy ground strokes were there, but the ranking and results did not reflect them.
Then in August of 2004 it all fell into place. Ms Molik defeated Tatiana Perebiynis of the Ukraine in the final of the Stockholm Open to claim the second title of her career and the first in Europe. That was followed by a Bronze Medal at the Athens Olympics, backed by victories in the Zurich and Luxembourg Opens. By year's end Ms Molik had moved from 32nd in the world to 13th. What everyone was asking was what happened between the disappointing third round loss at Wimbledon and that breakthrough win in Sweden a month later?
"Oh that!" Ms Molik said with a blush and a laugh, then sipped her coffee before answering. "I don't know what was wrong with me before then."
Asked what she meant, the tall blonde elaborated. "I was all over the place at Wimbledon, in fact I was all over the place for most of the first half of last year. I blamed my losses on everything but myself: my coach, the hotel, the draw, the equipment, the lines people, the umpire, everyone but Alicia Molik. In fact, I had a heated confrontation with the umpire after the Wimbledon match."
One might wonder why she was not fined. Ms Molik shrugged. "She's a good ref, I've had her plenty of times before. She just looked me in the eye and said steadily: 'If you were my daughter, young lady, I would put you over my knee and give you a good hiding.' That was it, end of conversation. I was stunned. I just stood there, my mouth opening and closing. It started me thinking, that maybe I did need to be taught a lesson."
Mental and Emotional Shortcomings
Many people had long suspected that Ms Molik's shortcomings were mental and emotional, not physical. Implicitly, the tennis star was agreeing with these criticisms.
"I had nearly a month between the end of Wimbledon and my next tournament in San Diego, so I thought about it and decided to look the umpire up. I called her and we arranged to meet in her home town, which coincidentally is Antwerp. I asked her what she had meant by the comment in London, and she said that she meant exactly what she said. In her eyes, I was behaving like a spoilt brat, wasting my talent and blaming everyone but myself for my results, and that I needed a good spanking to put me on the right track. I was pretty gobsmacked. I'm 23 years old and this lady was telling me I needed a smacked bum!"
Ms Molik dropped her eyes and then added softly, "I thought about it for a minute and had to admit that yes I did. I told the umpire and she said: 'Right, let's get down to business then, my girl.' She told me to go stand in the corner. I couldn't believe I was doing it, but I did what she said. I was so frustrated and wanted so badly to play like I knew I could that I was willing to try almost anything to fix it. She went into her room and changed, when she came out she told me to turn around and come to her on the couch. She was wearing her umpire's uniform, with the pleated skirt and all. She took down my jeans and asked me to step out of them, then she drew me over her lap."
Ms Molik is a big girl, so one might imagine she took up a lot of room. "She hauled me onto the couch and then rolled my panties down to below my bottom. I had no warning before she started smacking me. Bloody hell that woman can hit! I kicked and yelled, but she held me tight and scolded me like I was ten years old. Once I started to cry she went to work with a hairbrush she had brought out from the bedroom. Oh my God! That brush! I could not believe how much it hurt. I've gone through pain on the court, but nothing like the kiss of that brush."
The tennis player's eyes brimmed with tears at the painful memory. "She kept it up until my bottom was throbbing and burning and I lay limply over her knee and blubbered. She let me lay there and soothed my bottom. I stayed there until I had composed myself and we had a cup of coffee. I bombed in San Diego, but then I won Stockholm and got the Bronze in Athens, so the spanking worked, it unlocked something inside me."
It was an amazing story. The tennis star was asked if she had had another spanking since. "End of the year," she answered with a smile.
"Who is the umpire?" I asked.
Ms Molik laid a finger alongside her nose. "I have to keep her identity secret. If any girl thought it all it took was a trip over her knee to get into the top ten, she'd have a queue a block long outside her apartment." Ms Molik looked at her watch and her eyes widened in alarm. "Oh God! Is that the time? Debbie, I have to run. I'm meeting a 'friend' who lives in Antwerp."
With that she was gone. I was not hard to guess who that "friend" was and what they would "talk" about.
Originally published in Bared Affair, Issue 3.03
Post script: Alicia rose to no 6 in the world and even made the quarters of the Australian Open after this article was published. Unfortunately not long after that she contracted an inner ear infection which caused her to take a long lay off from the game and she eventually retired. She came out of retirement and rejoined the tour, but has never been able to recapture her form consistently. In happier news she did recently marry.