Tennis great spills on 'inappropriate' affair with Aussie coach

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Pam Shriver has revealed details of an inappropriate affair she had with her former coach Don Candy. Pic: Getty
Pam Shriver has revealed details of an inappropriate affair she had with her former coach Don Candy. Pic: Getty

American tennis great Pam Shriver has revealed details of a sexual relationship with her late coach that started when she was just 17.

Shriver - a winner of 22 grand slam doubles titles - says she was in an "inappropriate and damaging relationship" with her Australian coach Don Candy, who was 50 and married when it started.

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In a newspaper column in Britain's Daily Telegraph published on Wednesday, Shriver said she started working with Candy, a former French Open doubles champion himself, at the age of nine and he helped her reach the US Open final in 1978 as a 16-year-old.

Shriver, now 59, said the pair began an affair, which lasted just over five years, when the 17-year-old tennis star told the 50-year-old coach she had fallen in love with him.

Pam Shriver said an inappropriate relationship started up with her former coach Don Candy when she was 17. Pic: Getty
Pam Shriver said an inappropriate relationship started up with her former coach Don Candy when she was 17. Pic: Getty

"I still have conflicted feelings about Don," Shriver said.

Candy - a former Australian Open quarter-finalist as a player - died in 2020 at the age of 91.

"Yes, he and I became involved in a long and inappropriate affair. Yes, he was cheating on his wife. But there was a lot about him that was honest and authentic. And I loved him.

"Even so, he was the grown-up here. He should have been the trustworthy adult... Only after therapy did I start to feel a little less responsible. Now, at last, I've come to realise that what happened is on him."

Shriver added that the relationship with Candy impacted her time on court as well as the ability to form normal relationships later in life.

She said the affair ended when she started looking for a new coach, although she kept Candy on as a consultant, and described the following four seasons as the best of her career.

"Don never abused me sexually, but I would say there was emotional abuse. I felt so many horrendous emotions and I felt so alone," Shriver said.

Pam Shriver has revealed the 'damaging' relationship with her coach Don Candy lasted five years. Pic: Getty
Pam Shriver has revealed the 'damaging' relationship with her coach Don Candy lasted five years. Pic: Getty

Pam Shriver shares story as a warning to young players

Shriver, who has been working as a broadcaster since retiring from tennis in 1997, said she has seen "dozens of instances" of abusive coaching relationships in tennis in the last four decades.

"I think it's possible to educate young athletes, but you probably have to start before they even reach puberty," Shriver said.

"By the time they graduate to the main tennis tour, many patterns have already been set.

"And then there's the coaches. The best way to protect their charges is to put them through an education process before they arrive on tour."

Pam Shriver, pictured here interviewing Serena Williams at the Western & Southern Open in 2013.
Pam Shriver interviews Serena Williams at the Western & Southern Open in 2013. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Shriver said she wanted to share her own story as a warning and for the benefit of other young players who could potentially find themselves in similar situations.

"For any player or athlete who might be reading this, I want to emphasise the downsides of blurring personal and professional boundaries"

She added: "The point has to be made very clearly: these kinds of relationships are not appropriate, and there will be consequences for those who cross the line."

with AAP

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