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Mary Pierce - The Jim Pierce Rule

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Although Pierce, who spoke little French, had difficulty adjusting to the move, her tennis game continued to improve. She won her first tournament in Italy in 1991, but winning only seemed to fuel her father's fanatical behavior. When Pierce, playing for France in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, lost in the second round, her father screamed at her so much that she ran to the locker room in tears. Later, still enraged, he totaled his rental car. During the 1992 French Open, in which Pierce reached the fourth round, he punched two fans who were ridiculing Pierce's play. As Pierce walked off the court after losing to an unseeded player in the Italian Open, Jim Pierce threw an equipment bag at her. He then followed her into the parking lot and was seen slapping her. The next week, 17-year-old Pierce withdrew from the tournament. Later Pierce would admit that her father was physically as well as verbally abusive.

As the pressure to win every point became more and more unbearable, Pierce began to show signs of cracking. She was nervous and ill-at-ease on the court. Sometimes she would lose on purpose or simply forfeit, feigning an injury. The situation reached a climax during the 1993 French Open. Jim Pierce became enraged when he saw his daughter in the stands chatting and laughing with her 22-year-old cousin, Olivier. He attacked Olivier, choking him badly enough that he required medical attention. Jim Pierce's excuse was that the cousin was distracting Pierce, who was supposed to be scouting an upcoming opponent. Later, when Pierce was playing a match, her father began yelling at her, and tournament officials ejected him.

As a result the WTC enacted a new rule, known as the Jim Pierce Rule, that allows a player's disruptive family members or coaches to be banned from attending tournaments. Jim Pierce was denied entrance to tournaments in which his daughter played. At the same time, Pierce finally decided to break ties with her father and fired him as her coach. Her mother also began divorce proceedings. However, Jim Pierce did not go quietly; he made physical threats and stalked his daughter around the country. Tournament officials and ticket booths were supplied with his picture to prevent him from getting into a tournament. Pierce, fearing for her safety, hired bodyguards and requested restraining orders against her father.

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