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Corina Morariu Overwhelmed by Support

June 28, 2001

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) _ American tennis player Corina Morariu, diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia, has been overwhelmed by the support she’s received.

Morariu was diagnosed in May with acute promyelocytic leukemia, which doctors said this week is now in remission. That’s the best news she’s received since Jennifer Capriati dedicated the French Open title to her.

``It is difficult for me to put into words how special that was and how much that meant to me ... to see it on TV and seeing Jennifer dedicating her trophy and her win to me,″ Morariu told TNT from her home in Boca Raton, Fla. ``I was speechless for about a half hour. I will be forever grateful for that.″

``It made me miss everybody so much. I didn’t know how much I was loved, and I think it is one of the nicest things that has come out of this.″

The 23-year-old Morariu said she had small signs that something was wrong when she found herself short of breath and losing concentration.

``I think people in general, especially being young and athletic and living a pretty healthy lifestyle ... athletes in general, we think we are invincible and when we see something like this happen it comes as a shock to everyone.

``I think when you get put in this situation, there is no alternative. I never thought of anything but getting better.″

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NO DRINKS, MATE: As he contemplates retirement at the end of this season, Australian Pat Rafter is approaching this Wimbledon a bit differently than others.

``When you first come here, especially for me, I was never really a contender,″ Rafter said after his second-round victory Thursday over Slava Dosedel. ``I’d always enjoy myself in London, always go to pubs. Wouldn’t you?″

``Now it’s not like that anymore. It’s strictly business. It’s very professional.″

The losing finalist a year ago to Pete Sampras and a two-time U.S. Open champion, Rafter isn’t sure what he’ll do next _ but it won’t be television.

``Definitely not the media,″ he said. ``I wouldn’t like to do commentary. I’d like to take a step back and see how much I really miss it, how much I love it.″

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TRUE BRIT: Britain has a new tennis hero. In a country that hasn’t produced a men’s champion at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936, that’s saying plenty.

Every British paper was filled Thursday with stories on Barry Cowan, the unknown Englishman who pushed seven-time champion Pete Sampras to the brink in the second round before the American prevailed 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5) 4-6, 6-3 Wednesday.

``Brave Barry almost silences Pistol Pete,″ said the Mirror’s headline.

``You’ll never walk alone,″ said a Sun headline, a reference to the song Cowan listened to between changeovers against Sampras, and the anthem of his Liverpool soccer team.

``Cowan courage takes Sampras to the edge,″ was the Independent headline.

The Guardian even put the story on the front page under the headline: ``Fighting Brit gives Sampras a scare.″

The Daily Telegraph summed up the match by writing that Cowan has won zero tournaments to Sampras’ 63.

``Glorious failures are celebrated far too often in British sport. But this one really was,″ the newspaper said. ``Sampras is a wobbling champion, but that was not the big story of the night. Cowan had no business being on the same court as the American, but came close to staging the biggest upset in Wimbledon history.″

Only two British men remained in the tournament after Thursday: favorites Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski. Jamie Delgado and Arvind Parmar were knocked out Thursday, Delgado losing to second-seeded Andre Agassi and Parmar out against Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Britain’s last woman in the mix, Karen Cross, lost Wednesday.

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COMBACK TODD: American Todd Martin, a two-time Wimbledon semifinalist, overcame a 0-2 deficit for the eighth time in his career to defeat Jiri Novak 6-7 (3), 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in Wednesday’s second round.

Martin has accomplished comeback the feat six times in the last 2 1/2 years dating to the 1999 Australian Open. Martin improved his career record at the All England Club to 28-8 and improved his career five-set record to 19-11. He faces Swede Magnus Larsson in the third round Friday.

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KEEPING TABS: Britain’s sensationalizing tabloids scare Chris Evert.

``When we’re playing at the U.S. Open, you know, I’m opening up the New York Times or the Boston Globe, I’m opening up reputable newspapers and I’m not afraid to read them,″ the retired champion said. ``But when you go over and play Wimbledon, I’m afraid to read those papers, you know. You just never know what they’re going to come up with. It’s so sensational.″

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MORE LIKE IT: After three days of clear skies and warm, almost hot temperatures, rain fell Thursday at Wimbledon and suspended play. The first drops came at 12:18 p.m. London time. The delay lasted exactly an hour. A second delay later in the day also lasted an hour.

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WIMBLEMON: Money.

You’ll need lots of it you’re shopping for souvenirs in The Wimbledon Shop. For instance, a Wimbledon necktie with a racket-and-ball design costs $53. A pair of Wimbledon sunglasses will set you back as much as $105. For a rainy day, an umbrella is $34.

The standard Wimbledon T-shirt featuring a sketch of the seating chart for Centre Court is $30.

For the cash-strapped, a keychain in the shape of a strawberry is $10, a pair of white socks with ``Wimbledon″ printed in block letters down the side runs $8.50.

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