Mary Pierce (born 15 January 1975, in Montreal, Canada) is a French-American tennis professional playing on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) tour. Although born in Canada, she is a citizen of France, Canada, and the United States and plays for France in team competitions and the Olympics.
Pierce has won four Grand Slam titles, two in singles and two in doubles. She has reached six Grand Slam singles finals, most recently at the US Open and French Open in 2005. Her Grand Slam singles titles came at the 1995 Australian Open and the 2000 French Open; as of 2013, Pierce is the last French player, male or female, to win the latter title. She won the 2005 Wimbledon mixed doubles championship and has reached three Grand Slam doubles finals. She has won 18 WTA singles titles and 10 WTA doubles titles, including five Tier I singles events. She also has twice reached the final of the season-ending WTA Tour Championships, most recently in 2005.
Pierce was born in Montreal, Canada to Yannick and Jim Pierce. Yannick is French and Jim is American, qualifying Mary for citizenship in all three countries. She was raised in the United States. She has represented France in international tennis competitions many times. She speaks English and French fluently. Mary was previously engaged to baseball player Roberto Alomar and then later to Air France pilot David Emmanuel Ades, but broke off both engagements.
Pierce was introduced to tennis at the age of 10 by her father Jim Pierce. Just two years later, she won the U.S. national 12-and-under junior title. In 1989, she became the youngest American player to make her debut on the professional tour, aged 14 years and 2 months. (This record was broken the following year by Jennifer Capriati.) She quickly gained a reputation for being one of the all-time hardest hitters on the women's circuit. Her dad was her coach for many years.
In July 1993, Pierce successfully filed for a restraining order against her father, who was known to be verbally abusive to his daughter and her opponents. Following this split from her father, Pierce was coached by Nick Bollettieri, whose tennis academy she had briefly attended as a teenager in 1988. Her brother David was also Pierce's regular coach until 2006. German Aguero, founder of Future Tennis Champs, can also be attributed to the early success of Mary as he took her in for several years and coached her free of charge as her own.
Pierce reached her first Grand Slam singles final at the 1994 French Open. She conceded just 10 games during her route to the final, which included a 6–2, 6–2 defeat of World No. 1 Steffi Graf in the semifinals. In the final, however, Pierce lost to Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in straight sets 6–4, 6–4.
The following year, Pierce won her first Grand Slam title by defeating Sánchez-Vicario 6–3, 6–2 in the final of the 1995 Australian Open and lost just 30 games in the whole tournament. She reached her career-high singles ranking of World No. 3 that year. Pierce also won the Japan Open, defeating Sánchez Vicario in the final.
Pierce suffered a series of setbacks in 1996, including her split with Nick Bollettieri after failing to defend her title at the Australian Open. Aside from a runner-up finish at the Bausch & Lomb Championships in Amelia Island, Florida and a semifinal finish in Hamburg, the highlight of the year for Pierce was her first appearance in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.
Pierce was back in the Australian Open singles final in 1997, where she lost to Martina Hingis in straight sets. She also lost in that year's Chase Championships final to Jana Novotná. Pierce was a member of the French team that won the 1997 Fed Cup, and her only title that season was the Italian Open, defeating Conchita Martínez in the final. Pierce won the Comeback Player of the Year award for ending the year at World No. 7 after starting at World No. 21.
Pierce won four titles in 1998: the Open Gaz de France in Paris, the Bausch & Lomb Championships, the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, and the Fortis Championships Luxembourg. In addition, she was the runner-up at the Acura Classic in San Diego.
Pierce won her second Grand Slam singles title and her first Grand Slam doubles title at the 2000 French Open. In the singles final, she defeated Martínez to become the first French woman to claim the title since Françoise Dürr in 1967. And she partnered with Hingis to win the women's doubles crown. (The pair also were the runners-up at the Australian Open earlier that year.)
Pierce helped France win the Fed Cup for a second time in 2003.
After a few quiet years on the tour, Pierce won her first title since the 2000 French Open at the Ordina Open on grass, in 's-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands in 2004. At the Olympics in Athens, Pierce defeated sixth-seeded Venus Williams in the third round 6–4, 6–4 before losing to top-seeded and eventual Gold-medallist Justine Henin of Belgium in the quarterfinals by the same score. At the US Open later in the year, Pierce defeated recent Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova, before losing to eventual champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round.
Pierce then made it back into the top ranks of the women's game in 2005. At the French Open, she reached the singles final for the third time, where she lost to Henin in straight sets, losing 1–6, 1–6 in just over one hour. She then reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon for the first time since 1996. Pierce faced Venus Williams in that quarterfinal and lost the match after a second set tiebreak consisting of 22 points. Pierce also won the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon, partnering Mahesh Bhupathi. In August, Pierce won her first singles title of the year at the Acura Classic in San Diego, defeating Ai Sugiyama in the final.
Pierce then reached the final of the 2005 US Open. In the fourth round, she defeated Henin for the first time in her career 6–3, 6–4. In the quarterfinals, Pierce defeated third seeded Amélie Mauresmo 6–4, 6–1 to reach her first US Opensemifinal. After the victory, Pierce remarked, "I'm 30 and I have been on the tour for 17 years and there are still firsts for me. That's pretty amazing." She reached the final by defeating Elena Dementieva 3–6, 6–2, 6–2 in the semifinals, taking a medical time-out after the first set. This caused controversy, many believing that this disrupted Dementieva's rhythm and concentration. In the final, she lost to Kim Clijsters in straight sets. After the US Open, Pierce won her second title of the year at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. In her quarterfinal match against Russian Elena Likhovtseva, Pierce came back from 0–6 in the third set tiebreak (6 match points down) and won 8 consecutive points to reach the semifinals. The final score of the match was 7–5, 4–6, 7–6.
The win in Moscow secured her spot at the year-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Los Angeles where the top eight singles players in the world competed for the winner's prize of one million dollars. In round-robin play with her assigned group of four players, she won all three matches: against Clijsters in three sets; Mauresmo in three sets; and Dementieva in straight sets. In the semifinals, Pierce beat top-ranked Lindsay Davenport 7–6, 7–6; however, Pierce lost the final to Mauresmo in just over three hours.
Pierce's year-end ranking was World No. 5 compared to her year-beginning ranking of World No. 29. This matched her career-best performances of 1994, 1995, and 1999, and she was less than 200 points behind Sharapova for World No. 4 and less than 300 points behind Mauresmo for World No. 3. Pierce's return to form in 2005 was one of the most surprising tennis stories of the year. Her successful performance in 2005 also encouraged the former World No. 1 player, Martina Hingis, to return to the game.
Pierce trained hard in the off-season in a bid to win major titles in 2006. Her first tournament of the year was the Australian Open. She defeated Nicole Pratt of Australia 6–1, 6–1 in the first round before losing to Iveta Benešová of the Czech Republic in the second round 6–3, 7–5. The loss denied her a third-round match with Martina Hingis. Pierce reached the final of her next tournament, the Gaz de France in Paris, where she lost to compatriot Amélie Mauresmo in straight sets. Pierce did not play again until August because of foot and groin injuries, withdrawing from the French Open and Wimbledon.
After spending six months away from the tour, Pierce began her comeback at the Acura Classic in San Diego, where she was the 2005 champion. She lost in the quarterfinals to Maria Sharapova 6–2, 6–3. In just her second tournament in over six months, Pierce played at the US Open. Pierce lost to Na Li, the 24th seed from China, in the third round 4–6, 6–0, 6–0. Pierce then lost in the first round of the next three tournaments she played. She was defeated at theFortis Championships Luxembourg by Alona Bondarenko 6–3, 6–3, who went on to win the title. Jelena Janković defeated Pierce in Stuttgart 7–6, 6–3. And Katarina Srebotnik defeated Pierce at the Zurich Open 6–3, 7–5.
At the Generali Ladies Linz tournament in October 2006, Pierce defeated Ai Sugiyama in the first round and was leading Vera Zvonareva 6–4, 6–5 in the second round when Pierce ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee. She had held three match points before the injury.
Pierce underwent a successful operation in December 2006 and missed all of 2007. She expected to return to the tour in 2008. At the end of 2008, she was still sidelined with no projected return date. However, she stated that she was still not ready to retire.
Pierce made an appearance at the 2007 French Open as an avenue at Roland Garros was named in her honor – Allée Mary Pierce. She also helped with the social side to the French Open, taking part in the post-match ceremony after the women's final.
Pierce was named as a member of the French Olympic team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. On 21 July 2008, however, Pierce withdrew from the Olympics because of injury.
Pierce and Ana Ivanović are the only two women to win both the championship and the wooden spoon at the Grand Slam tournaments. Pierce's wooden spoon came at the 2002 Australian Open, where she retired in the first round to Jill Craybas; she was the champion in 1995, making her the first (and so far only) player to win both the championship and wooden spoon at the very same Grand Slam tournament.