A True Sporting Role Model

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Many articles have been written about sports stars bad exploits away from their sporting arenas. This article aims to provide a little antidote to those stories of morons who don’t seem to have any idea how lucky they are.

            Andrea Jaeger looked all set to become one of the biggest tennis stars ever. She made her professional debut aged 14. During her career she reached number two in the world and reached the finals of the French Open in 1982 and Wimbledon in 1983. Including a 6-0, 6-3 destruction of Chris Evert in the semi finals of the French in 1982, at a time when Evert was considered near invincible on the red clay courts. Her youth caused the press to think long and hard before coming up with the nickname ‘Lolita’, maybe unaware that Andrea’s blonde hair didn’t come close to matching the auburn colour of Nabokov’s creation. All her major accomplishments in the game were before she reached her twenties. In the French Open of 1984 she picked up a shoulder injury in her first round match. She didn’t leave the tour completely until 1987, but after her shoulder popped that day in Paris, Andrea was never going to be the tennis play she could’ve been. By the time she’d retired she had amassed over a million dollars in prize money, an even more substantial figure back then. To have been tantalisingly close to all you’ve ever dreamed of, only to have it taken away would’ve been way too much for most people to handle. If she had spent the rest of her days living off her quickly amassed fortune, lazing around her house, wearing only her dressing gown, sipping Jack Daniels and Coke and telling anyone who cared to listen about her glory days, then it would’ve been difficult to blame her. Indeed had she gone off the rails, rebelling against her misfortune by throwing herself into a wild, hedonistic lifestyle of nightclubs, booze and drugs, then I’m sure Miss Jaeger’s story would be far more well known. A generation later, Jennifer Capriati did lose herself in such a lifestyle, despite having no such injury to trigger the rebellion, and her story was all over the front pages of newspapers even over here in Britain. When Capriati returned to the tour and in 2001 won two major championships, she was widely given great praise for her fantastic comeback. As if coming close to fulfilling her tennis potential was more than enough for us to forgive her misdemeanours. I believe Andrea’s ‘comeback’ is far more impressive.

            Instead of rebelling, Andrea reacted to her situation in an almost saintly fashion. During her time on tour she had struggled to feel comfortable amongst the other players off the court. She spent a lot of her spare time during tournaments visiting the children’s ward in hospitals that were close to the tournament site. When her tennis career ended, Andrea felt that she had been the child who had everything and that she should now help children who had virtually nothing. So she set up a charity for children with terminal diseases, originally known as ‘The Silver Lining Foundation’, now going by the name of ‘The Little Star Foundation.’ She ploughed all her money into the venture and now has little or no money to call her own. The general premise of the charity is to provide amazing weeks, full of fun activities, for these young people. No one can control if these youngsters are on this planet for a long time, but Andrea and her, equally impressive, colleagues make sure they have a good time. All of the young people they work with are given a phone number they can ring anytime they need support. The charity is also a great support to the families of these children.

            Now Andrea spends most of her time fundraising one way or another, the rest of the time she will be helping out with one of the many programmes the charity runs, all around the world, throughout the year. In 2006 she put an exclamation point on the purity of her thoughts by becoming an Anglican Dominican Nun, making her Sister Andrea. Her autobiography, called ‘First Service’, has been out since 2004 and all the proceeds go to children’s charities.

            I know there are plenty of ‘normal’ people out there who dedicate their lives to charity just as much as Andrea does, and nobody’s writing articles about them. However several people behave like morons in city centres and have problems with alcohol and other drugs and nobody writes articles about them either. So I just wanted to provide a little balance and write about one of the many sports stars who do amazingly good things outside their sporting arena.

            If you want to check out Andrea’s charity and maybe see how you can help, click on the website below:

 

http://www.littlestar.org/

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