Her histrionics mark her as a descendant of the goddess Ishtar: women as forces of nature who create destruction when life does not go their way. Helen even mocked her opponent’s bad shots on court. “I hate losing to Kelesi,” one player said. “No one’s going to treat me like an ass,” said another. “Tennis ball,” Helen says, when she was shown a picture of the tumor, that unseen unknown growing slowly inside her brain for all those years on tour: her three-set gruntfest with Monica Seles, her two quarterfinals at the French Open. The storm inside her always brewing as Canada watched. She chewed out ball boys, umpires. Pam Shriver once just walked off the court, refused to play. One day it came to a head: dizziness, headaches, darkness. The brain surgeon called in. After a struggle, everything’s calm. The eye of the storm is gone.
For more on Helen Kelesi, see her page in the BC Sports Hall of Fame. For more great photos of female tennis players throughout history, see Women’s Tennis Colorizations, the source of the featured image of Helen Kelesi above.
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