AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Tennis Hall of Famer Lindsay Davenport writes that her love of the Anaheim Ducks is personal.

By Lindsay Davenport
May 19, 2015

This is the fourth of a four-part series written by fans of the four conference finalists. In the first, SI.com’s executive editor, Ryan Hunt, offered insight into how much the Lightning mean to his life. In the second, MMA star CM Punk described his love of the Blackhawks. The third, by former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, discussed his lifelong obsession with the Rangers. We finish with  Hall of Fame tennis player Lindsay Davenport, the former women’s World No. 1, who won three Grand Slam singles championships and an Olympic gold medal. She is a Ducks fan, and she takes it personally.

When I was in third grade, my good friend Lisa moved away from Southern California, where I grew up. But this wasn’t any ordinary move: Her father, the great Marcel Dionne, had been traded from the Kings to the Rangers.

My parents were upset that they had to tell me that one of my best friends was moving. But they also seemed bummed for L.A. Both of my parents were huge Kings fans, and I grew up loving hockey and the team, as well. I felt like one of the few girls in the 1980’s who knew what icing was. Hockey has always been my favorite sport to watch besides tennis.

My Town, My Team: Blackhawks fan CM Punk recalls Chicago Stadium
I moved to Orange County in 1994, a year after the formation of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. It took a few years, but by 1999 I had season tickets for the Ducks. My transformation from a Los Angeles fan to a zealous Anaheim fan was well underway. 

On March 19, 2000, my husband and I went on our first date. It was to a Ducks game, of course. They beat the Red Wings 3–1. 

Over the years, we became friends with several Anaheim players. I trained for a number of years with the same trainer as Paul Kariya. I became friends with Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer. Once you know somebody and you form a connection with the team, your love for it becomes even greater. All of the sudden, you’re all in.

I’m not a hater of the Kings now. Clearly, when they play the Ducks I’m cheering for Anaheim. But we were definitely cheering for L.A. last season after they knocked out the Ducks, so I don’t know what that makes me. When you go to Staples Center in L.A., it’s definitely a different crowd. They’re probably a little more hardcore than the Orange County hockey fans. Even last Sunday, the Blackhawks seemed to have 30% or 40% of the crowd in Anaheim. That typically happens when we play Detroit. For Ducks fans, it’s a little annoying. 
I was pregnant during Anaheim’s 2006–07 season, so I wasn’t playing tennis. We went to almost every game, and that’s the year they won it all.
My Town, My Team: Boomer Esiason on his lifelong Rangers obsession
The Ducks’ win in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals was insane. I’ve had different seats throughout my near-decade as a season ticket holder, but our seats that night were right against glass. Seeing our friends skate around with the Stanley Cup was amazing. To win it on home ice took away some of the disappointment from 2003, when Anaheim lost the finals in seven games.

Three days after we won the Cup, I gave birth to my first child. The Cup was at [Scott Niedermayer’s] house a week after Game 5, and I was in the hospital with my son. The first time my husband left me there was to go to Scott’s house to touch the Stanley Cup. I didn’t get to touch it. 

In recent years, we haven’t been able to go to as many Ducks games because of our four kids, who are seven, five, three and one. But just as my parents’ love for hockey made me into a fan, I’m probably influencing my own kids to embrace the Ducks.

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