AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
Pam Shriver, a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame who won 21 Grand Slam double titles, said Wednesday she was involved in an “inappropriate and damaging relationship” with former coach Don Candy.
Shriver wrote in The Telegraph she first met Candy, who died in 2020, when she was nine years old and he was 42. She explained he eventually became her full-time coach and “wasn’t a predator,” but their relationship changed after a discussion in 1979.
“I’m falling in love with you,” Shriver, who was 17 at the time, told Candy, 50, which started an affair that lasted five years:
“I still have conflicted feelings about Don. 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. In a different world, he would have found a way to keep things professional. Only after therapy did I start to feel a little less responsible. Now, at last, I’ve come to realize that what happened is on him.”
Shriver said Candy, who won the 1956 French Open doubles title as a player before his coaching career, never sexually abused her but did engage in “emotional abuse.”
The Baltimore native, who’s now 59, added she doesn’t have a perfect recollection of the full scope of their relationship:
“The next five years were a time when everything got blurry, when lines were crossed. I was so young, I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t understand what I was getting into and I’m not sure he did either. The relationship started to get physical, to get intimate. We didn’t actually have intercourse until I was 20, two-and-a-half years after our conversation in the rental car in Minneapolis. But we did share rooms . We did virtually everything else that two people who are attracted to each other can do.”
Shriver ended the relationship with Candy after the 1984 season and moved on to a new coach, Hank Harris. She continued to consult with Candy about her on-court performance but confirmed neither of them “tried to rekindle anything” sexually.
The former top-ranked doubles player in the world said she hopes her story prevents similar inappropriate relationships for the current generation of players.
“Every time I hear about a player who is dating their coach, or I see a male physio working on a female body in the gym, it sets my alarm bells ringing,” Shriver wrote, adding:
“This is a widespread problem and we need a broad-spectrum alliance if we’re going to address it. One of the most crucial organizations is going to be the International Tennis Federation, because they organize the junior events. But everyone must come together —the WTA, the ATP and the four Grand Slams—to improve tennis’ safeguarding practices.”
She added a direct appeal to players, saying established boundaries between their personal and professional lives help both their “emotional wellbeing” and their on-court performance.
Shriver, who won an Olympic gold medal alongside Zina Garrison in 1988, retired in 1997 and currently works as a tennis analyst for ESPN.