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Archive for July, 2007

Russia beats US for Fed Cup final appearance

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Despite missing world number two Maria Sharapova and number four Svetlana Kuznetsova through injury, the Russians overcame a U.S. team led by Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, 3-2, to reach their third Fed Cup final in four years.
“America got their butts kicked,” a headline in Tuesday’s edition of a leading daily Kommersant blared in hailing the understrength team’s victory.

However, the tie at the picturesque mountain resort in Stowe, Vermont was overshadowed by a political row between Moscow and Washington when U.S. authorities failed to issue Russia captain Shamil Tarpishchev an entry visa on time.

Only after intensive lobbying by the International Tennis Federation and the Russian Foreign Ministry was Tarpishchev able to fly to the U.S. and arrived in Stowe just 24 hours before Saturday’s opening match.

Last Thursday, Tarpishchev said he was “forced to sit on the edge of his seat” for seven days waiting for his visa instead of preparing his team for the all-important tie.

Russian media took exception to Tarpishchev’s troubles by calling the Americans “inhospitable”.

“The ordeal in the ghost city,” wrote the mass-selling daily Sovietsky Sport, criticising the hosts for almost everything, from a lack of adequate facilities to bad food at the venue.

Russia’s leading players Anna Chakvetadze and Nadia Petrova also cited jetlag, fatigue and a lack of preparation as reasons for losing their singles matches to Williams. Guardian

Rumors begin that Mauresmo may not play US Open

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Amelie Mauresmo could opt to skip next month’s US Open, according to the Frenchwoman’s coach.

Mauresmo has won just one tournament in 2007, and has failed to progress beyond the last 16 in any of the three grand slams so far this year.

The 28-year-old, currently ranked sixth in the world, may now decide to finish the season early and focus on her preparations for the 2008 campaign.

Loic Courteau, Mauresmo’s coach, told French daily L’Equipe: ‘Everything is possible.

‘It is possible she will play it, or that she won’t play it.’

Mauresmo has struggle with adductor problems this year, and Courteau revealed the player may take a break to fully regain her freshness.

‘She really needs to completely recharge her batteries, to re-energise, to come back with new ambitions and goals,’ said Courteau.

‘That could take time. A fortnight? Three weeks? Two months? I don’t know.’

Seems a bit early for a coach to even be speculating on this.

Photo: Sharapova’s ESPY pre-party dress

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

I guess you need a lot of dresses to attend this event.

Photo: Sharapova’s ESPY 2007 dress

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Maria also had a different dress for the pre-party, which I’ll post for those who may be interested.
Maria Sharapova iVillage

Sharapova wins ESPY awards

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Hopefully she didn’t strain that shoulder picking up these awards. Maybe this is why Russia is so mad about the Fed Cup debacle.

Tennis ace Maria Sharapova visited Los Angeles at the weekend to attend the ESPY Awards, an annual sporting awards ceremony produced by US television network ESPN.

The Russian tennis ace was recognised as the year’s best female tennis player and best international female athlete at the gala event, which is the sporting equivalent of Hollywood’s Oscar awards ceremony.

Adorned in a sexy black leather dress and matching stilettos, the former world number one was joined by fellow tennis star Serena Williams.

This year’s Wimbledon champion Roger Federer earned his third consecutive best male tennis player award, while American golfer Tiger Woods recorded his eighteenth ESPY award scooping the year’s best golfer award. Opodo

The Roddick dating update

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Hmm, been awhile since we had one of these!

Now, on to someone equally droolworthy: Andy Roddick! We gossip girls at the Awful Truth can’t get enough A-Rod in our lives, you?
Let’s rewind back to Matt Leinart’s Bowling with the Stars fundraiser for a bit, where we chatted up the adorable tennis star to see if he plans to go all Venus ‘n’ Serena on us and try out his thespian chops. “I did acting,” A.R. ‘fessed. “I did Saturday Night Live, and for me, I think it’s downhill from there. So, I don’t think I’ll be pursuing that anytime soon. I thought it was great; I just didn’t think I was very good at it.”

Just like his bud Matt, Andy also claimed he had zero game off the court way back when. “It’s tough to pick,” he replied to our worst-you’ve-struck-out-dating Q. “High school was a little tough, but I got better at tennis, and that helped.”
Got you a few dates with Maria Sharapova, didn’t it, doll? Andy told us he’s now seeing someone from back home, which happens to be Austin, Texas. Inside, he was hangin’ with a hot blonde, so maybe that was the gal? Lucky lady! EOnline

Philippoussis contestant rips Mark

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Of the few episodes I saw, I managed to catch enough of the plot to figure out that everyone was supposed to think that Adelaide Dawson and our boy Mark were just a match made in heaven. I think that idea was planted to make for more drama, because he apparently eliminated her from the competition right away. Now that the episode has aired, she rips him up a bit.

Though the aim of the game is to win Philippoussis’s heart, Dawson says she wasn’t playing to win.

“He was pleasant enough, but he wasn’t very relaxed,” she says.

“He was quite mechanical about the whole thing. He was awkward with us.

“I like tennis, but I usually prefer to watch women’s tennis. I like the look of tennis players usually. He seemed to be really into himself. He was pretty vain and arrogant.”

Dawson says she did not feel rivalry with any of the other women, young or old.

“I didn’t see it as a competition, but after watching the show and listening to what the older women said about us, I can see they were really competitive.

“I didn’t see it as a competition. I thought I would have a go because, you never know, I might like this person, but he wasn’t my type.”

So who is? Dawson says soccer player David Beckham is more her cup of tea.
Herald Sun (AU)

Vain? Arrogant? Sounds a bit typical of many male tennis players and probably all reality TV stars.

Capriati depressed; has had suicidal thoughts

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Below is an article excerpt from an interview with someone we haven’t heard from in awhile - Jennifer Capriati.

Jennifer Capriati can’t remember where she was when she first had thoughts of killing herself. Between the doctor visits and the pain and the idleness, the timeline isn’t easy to keep straight.

She just remembers being boxed in by bleakness, battered by doubts about her purpose and her worth, pounding herself harder than she ever hit any tennis ball. Here she was, a Grand Slam champion and Olympic gold medalist and former No. 1 player in the world, reduced to this, a lost soul with a bad shoulder, a woman in a vice grip of depression.

In those dark moments, neither her successes nor her $10 million in career earnings could offer a shred of comfort. She’d look at the baseline of her life and see nothing but her own faults.

“Sometimes you get to a point where you can’t stop what you are thinking,” Capriati says. “It’s like you’re being taken over by a demon. You just feel there’s no way out of this space you’re in. It feels like the end of the world. When you are just so exhausted and tired of feeling that way, you (think), ‘I want to be off this planet right now, because I just feel disgusting inside. I can’t even stand my own skin, and I just want to get out.”’

Capriati pauses a moment. “The more you stuff it and don’t talk about it, the more it festers and eats you up inside,” she says. “It helps to talk about it with other people who go through it. You can’t wear an iron shield all the time.”

For more than two and a half years, Capriati, 31, has found herself in professional purgatory, afflicted with a debilitating shoulder injury that prevents her from even going out for a back yard hit. She had two surgeries she thought would provide relief, thought she’d rehab for a few months and be back on the tour.

It hasn’t happened that way. Capriati has played tennis six times since her last professional match, a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Vera Zvonareva of Russia in November 2004. She will soon have a third operation, and another on her wrist, and also try to find a solution for a degenerative condition in her back.

The ordeal has left her feeling abandoned by her former agency, IMG, and staring squarely at her athletic mortality, even as another hardcourt season moves on without her.

Can you imagine how difficult it can be when your body has always delivered strength and power as needed, and suddenly you feel as brittle as a wafer?

“I’ve only known one speed — 100 mph — and now I feel stuck in this place where I can’t move,” she says.

It has been 17 years since Jennifer Capriati emerged as a pony-tailed prodigy, the most heralded underage tennis player of all time, a sweet-faced, ball-bashing girl out of the Saddlebrook Resort who made millions in endorsements before she hit a pro ball, made the finals of her first tournament and even made the cover of Sports Illustrated. “And She’s Only 13!” the headline read.

Now the digits are reversed, and hard questions abound. Capriati isn’t the first athlete to be daunted by the impending end of a career, but it sometimes feels that way.

She is sitting on a sofa in a house she is renting while she waits to move into a home she’s building in Tampa. She is wearing a pink tank top and blue shorts and looks strikingly fit, inactivity notwithstanding. She’s a few feet from a flat-screen TV, where she watched Venus Williams win Wimbledon last weekend. It was hard. Watching the Grand Slams is always hard.

“When I stopped playing, that’s when all this came crumbling down,” Capriati says. “If I don’t have (tennis), who am I? What am I? I was just alive because of this. I’ve had to ask, ‘Well, who is Jennifer? What if this is gone now?’ I can’t live off of this the rest of my life.”

Says her brother, Steven Capriati, a lawyer in Tallahassee, Fla., “For any athlete, once you stop doing what you’ve loved for 20 or 25 years and all of a sudden it’s taken away, it can be a tough progression into the next life.”

If Jennifer Capriati does not make it back to the tour, her legacy will go well beyond her 430 tour victories, her three Slam titles, her Olympic gold medal in Barcelona in 1992, or her epic 1991 Open semifinal with Monica Seles, one of the most riveting tennis dramas in recent memory.

It will also entail her becoming a poster girl for the perils of premature stardom, of a childhood cut short by the pursuit of money. It was 1994 when the women’s tour passed the so-called “Capriati Rule,” barring players from turning pro before their 14th birthday and setting limits on how often teenagers could play.

The article then discusses her now infamous past drug problems - I’ve not included that in the excerpt here.

Even then, though, Capriati often felt hollow inside, suffering from low self-esteem, wondering whether people really liked her, or whether they were just latching on to her celebrity. In her own mind, Capriati either won, or felt worthless.

“If I was at the height of my game, beating Serena Williams, I was on top of the world, but something was still missing inside,” Capriati says. “The happiness factor wasn’t there. I’m still struggling to find out what that is. I’ve always been self-critical. I struggle with trying to like and love myself on a daily basis.”

She stops, and runs a hand through her dark hair. “This is not just about me hitting a tennis ball. This is about the rest of my life. How am I going to live on this earth and wake up happy with who I am? Do I want to go back to tennis just to fill that void again? Is that an escape almost? Is that just the easy way out?”

Some 21 million Americans suffer from depression, according to Mental Health America, a Virginia-based advocacy group. Capriati says she has battled it for much of her life. She is in therapy and has tried medication to alleviate it, but resisted help for a long time. She was afraid what people would think, and wanted to gut it out by herself.

Capriati says she has never tried to commit suicide, never gotten to the point where she had a vial of pills in her hand. Still, the thoughts come and go, less so now than before. It’s hard to know what triggers them. Her frustration over her shoulder and back ailments have been immense. Almost the moment she stopped playing, she felt she was an afterthought to IMG, the agency that represented her for almost 20 years.

“Basically, it was , ‘Out of sight, out of mind,”’ Capriati says. “There are more important prospects out there at the moment.”

It bothered her that nobody from the USTA called to check in. But Capriati doesn’t want to dwell on perceived slights, or feel like a victim. “I can sit here and point fingers, but what’s important is where I go from here.” Nor does she want to blame her father, the orchestrator of her career. While Capriati believes that turning pro so young “backfired,” and that it was too much, too soon, she believes Stefano Capriati has been unfairly lumped with the tour’s more maniacal tennis fathers, when he really only had her best interests at heart.

Everything she has been through has taught Capriati much about life. If she were to have a daughter who showed athletic promise, she knows for sure would not force-feed stardom. She’d want her to have fun with it, enjoy the process, not get consumed with expectations and seriousness the way Capriati did.

“She’s the most hyped player of all time,” Pam Shriver, the former tour player, once said of Capriati. “Nobody can operate with those kinds of expectations without repercussions.”

And then finally, where does she go from here?

“I know (suicide) is not the answer,” she says. “I only have one go at this. Even if it’s torturous, you have to stick it out. Maybe this is all a blessing. I’m still young. I still have time to figure it out.

“I have a choice. Am I going to let this defeat me, and make me not even want to be here? Or am I going to do something to not let this break me down, and maybe help other people? That’s the mission I’m on now, to find happiness and positiveness in the future.” The Olympian

Good luck, Jennifer! Your fans will always support you.

Davenport returns to doubles, talks about baby Jagger

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Here’s a great interview that gives a lot of info on what Lindsay has been doing:

ROSIE CREWS (WTT): We have Lindsay Davenport who is coming back to World TeamTennis. She’s been busy the last six weeks taking care of little Jagger. She’ll tell us about that. She’s coming back to play World TeamTennis with Sacramento on Saturday night (July 21). This is the first time Lindsay is back in World TeamTennis since 2003. She actually started her WTT career with the Caps in ‘93.
Let’s take some questions for Lindsay.

Q. How are you feeling?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I’m feeling great. Thank you so much.

Q. Tell me about when you started to play after the birth of your child? How many weeks did you sit out?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: You know, I had to have a cesarean section with him, so I was out not doing much the first two weeks obviously, then slowly just started to do some stuff about maybe when he was about two and a half weeks, just kind of getting more active on my doctor’s permission.
You know, all of a sudden it’s been — things have healed really quickly. I felt really great. I’ve had a great recovery. So since about two and a half weeks, I’ve been pretty active, been able to practice now the last week at a very high percentage. Glad there were no complications.

Q. Did TeamTennis contact you about playing Saturday and why did you decide to play so soon after having a baby?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, you know, Ilana (Kloss, WTT CEO/Commissioner) is a friend of mine. We have been obviously in contact through my pregnancy. She had asked me in May, Is there any way you would want to
come back and play a TeamTennis match? You know, originally Jagger was not due until July 2nd, so I told her it probably wasn’t going to be likely, knowing when the TeamTennis season was. But because of some complications we had with him, he actually came obviously three weeks early on June 10th.
I talked to her shortly after and said, I’m feeling great. You know, I think I’ll be ready to do it. I looked at it really as kind of a fun challenge to see, you know, if I could come back so quickly and kind of get me a little kick in the pants to get back being active, you know, being healthy and all of that stuff.

Q. You talked to your doctor about it, I assume. What was his or her reaction?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, fine. Normally you go in every four weeks for your post-op. I see my doctor every week. My husband takes me there to make sure I’m totally doing well and following orders. Great. I mean, everything I’ve done has been with her permission. She’s a friend of mine. Everything is totally healthy and fine.

Q. The name Jagger, what is the story behind that?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: You know, it wasn’t a big story. We like maybe not the most traditional names. It was a name that we had actually heard years ago. It was always kind of the name we wanted. It has nothing to do with the Rolling Stones, although people think that.
You know, it was just a name we gravitated towards. We did not know what we were having the whole pregnancy. For whatever reason, we thought we were having a girl. We were always really discussing girl names. When he came out, we found out it was a boy, we hadn’t really discussed the possibility of anything other than a girl, so we went with the name that we had liked for the last few years.

Q. Considering his middle name as well, do you envision him being called J.J. at some point?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I don’t know. We used to talk about if we had a son, you know, we always refer to him as Johnny Jr. while we were never going to call him Jonathan Jr. or whatever. But it was something fun we did. We call him Jagger, but we certainly don’t care if people call him that.

Q. Should we take any signs from you playing World TeamTennis that we’ll see you back on tour at some point?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: You know, I’m not sure. I mean, I never thought that I would — things changed so much. I never thought, first of all, I’d be coming back so soon. It’s been so much fun kind of preparing for it. Just been hitting with my husband to get ready. It’s been great, great getting back in shape.
I hope so. I haven’t made any decisions, final decisions yet. But it’s something kind of like a small goal in the back of my mind I’m working towards. You know, as it went in the later part of my pregnancy, I thought if I stay healthy, it would be just great to be able to come back and play some as a mother. Hopefully things continue to go well and that can be possible.

Q. What is the greatest challenge and greatest joy of being a mom? When you’ve come back before, when you’ve had layoffs, is the biggest challenge getting your timing or playing in front of crowds? What is it from a tennis perspective you’ll be dealing with Saturday?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, I mean, the first part of the question, the challenge I think for me is about trying to like balance everything. I totally understand now the working mom’s guilt. If I go out and practice, I feel bad about leaving him. If I’m home trying to do stuff, I feel bad cleaning up the house or whatever. It’s an interesting challenge there. We have a wonderful lady helping us, which wouldn’t be possible, and I don’t think I’d be as focused if I didn’t have her.
But I think as far as me coming back, it’s never too much been about playing crowds. It’s sometimes in matches being able to play well at the right times. The other thing for me is, you know, it’s not so much timing of hitting the ball, it’s moving and timing of hitting of the ball. I mean, if it comes right down the middle, my timing’s always been great. It’s about what kind of steps to take, getting in position, really setting up for my shots.

Q. When you see someone like Bammer, who is a mother, be really successful, Venus not a mother but just winning Wimbledon, your contemporaries, does that inspire you at all to come back, or is it regardless of what anyone else does?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: You know, people bring up Bammer a lot to me. Probably a little different because I think her daughter’s like — I don’t want to misspeak, but like six or something like that. I’m sure that’s incredibly difficult.
For me right now I’m focusing on coming back just from the pregnancy and dealing with an infant. I’m not sure how it would be if he was five or six.
I think there’s amazing women throughout the world that have done great things after having a baby. Gwen Stefani is a friend of mine. She balances it all just amazing and she’s inspiring. My mom went back to work after she had all of us. Both my sisters work. You know, just about being around that, I feel like I want to be able to try to do it all, and that’s obviously being a good mother and a good wife and having some kind of career again hopefully.

Q. You played Stanford quite often. What was the appeal to play that tournament for you? Now that San Diego isn’t going to be in the mix, how challenging do you think it will be for that tournament to draw top players?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, I loved Stanford. It was definitely one of my favorite tournaments. Coming from California, it was always really great. I always played there when healthy to start my summer season. I always thought the weather was great. The fans are great. A great atmosphere. I always wanted to go to college there. I don’t know if that was part of it. I always thought it was a great, great tournament.
You know, I haven’t seen the summer calendar. I know San Diego’s off. I know Stanford falls before L.A. In the summer, I think it would still be a good time for them. It will be difficult next year with an Olympic year. I think all the tournaments, their dates get kind of played with a little bit.
I think the players that have played there have always loved going there and hopefully that will continue to be the case.

Q. I was talking to Lisa Leslie last week. She had her daughter a week or so before you did. She said she also had a C-section. She went out to the ESPY Awards and it was the first time she had left the baby with her mom. She obviously was feeling a lot of the same things that you are being away from the baby, trying to tend to other things. Will you be bringing the baby up to Sacramento?

Q. How will you handle that?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, I mean, there’s no question. Whatever I decide to do, and if that’s playing again, yeah, I mean, he’s with me full-time. That’s part of being a mom and stuff. Yeah, the whole family’s going to Sacramento, dad included.
Yeah, you just have to make it work. Obviously things get more challenging and in some cases more complicated. I’m hoping that he’ll bring me even more joy on the road and a lot of fun. But obviously, you know, traveling, we just have to learn to make it work.

Q. At what point do you think you and John would be putting a racquet in his hands?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: If it’s up to me, at no time. I think probably another sport. But who knows. Whatever the kid wants to do, he’ll obviously be able to do it.

Q. What memories do you have when you debuted with the Capitals in ‘93, helped them win the league title in ‘97 and ‘98?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I loved playing there. I remember at the time Ramey (Osborne) was the owner, had gone through my coach at the time Robert (Van’t Hoff) to get me to play. I was only 17 when I agreed to play. Had no idea what I was getting into with the whole season.
But absolutely loved it. Have always loved the concept. You know, I love being around like the team atmosphere and other players. Always really interesting when you get the men and women together working towards a common goal. But everyone in Sacramento was great. It always had the best crowds, tons of people always there.
I’m interested to see the new site where they’re playing, be able to check that out. I haven’t been back there since I guess ‘98 was the last year. I know I met a lot of great people up there, the people that all worked for the Capitals were great. New coach in Wayne Bryan for me. Look forward to playing with him on the bench.

Q. Have you watched any tennis in your time off?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah. I mean, the last few weeks I was not put on bed rest, but I was put on some rest. That was right when the French was going on, so I was watching that because there wasn’t much else for me to do. You know, Jagger was born the Sunday, the finals of the French, then two weeks later is Wimbledon. Those two weeks you’re not getting out all that much, so I got to watch Wimbledon, too. And you’re up in the middle of the night, so that was fun.

Q. Did you find yourself missing it at that point?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: You know, it’s funny because I’ve always enjoyed it. It was intriguing to watch it, especially kind of how — more so for me Wimbledon than the French, how that played out.
You know, there’s certain things you definitely miss and there’s other things that you don’t miss. But definitely enjoyed watching it, seeing what kind of transpired with some of the upsets, obviously Venus just playing great after the first couple rounds to win again.

Q. Did the fact she won that and Serena won Australia surprise you?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: It didn’t surprise me at all. It surprised me maybe two of the first three rounds she was in some trouble and got through, then she was just on cruise control it seemed like.

Q. Why didn’t it surprise you?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I think just when she steps on grass, she gets confidence. I think she’s so good on it, I think she knows it. I think she knows the other players don’t really want to play her on grass. I think that immediately resonates in her game. Kind of maybe the things that go through her head, maybe the doubt isn’t there when she steps on a grass court.

Q. Are you breast-feeding?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I am. Last night we got to six and a half hours in a row and he’s getting big. I’m hoping this keeps getting extended.

Q. When the baby arrives, some people say he looks just like you did when you were a baby, resembles family members. What are people saying?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, I joked that I’m basically a surrogate to my husband’s twin. It’s ridiculous. You know, my family tries to help. Oh, you know, his fingers look like yours. But he is a hundred percent my husband, which is cute. I mean, it’s amazing to look down and see that.

Q. Where does John stand on possibly the playing?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: He thinks it’s great. He’s totally encouraging me to do whatever I want. Obviously it would be tougher on him because he’d be without me and the baby for stretches at a time. He thinks it’s exciting.
The thing that really intrigues me about playing is the Olympics next year, trying to go back maybe obviously as a mother and see how that pans out. But he’s great. I mean, he is going to come to Sacramento. If I could make some sort of schedule, we’ll definitely plan a lot of weeks where he’s there, make it work.

Q. Further down the road is the biggest challenge to stop Jagger’s grandfather from getting him out on the court?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: The whole family. You know, I mean, we’ll see what happens. I think it’s probably in his best interest maybe not to follow the tennis gene. You can’t really control what they want to do. Hopefully he’ll be involved in some kind of sports.

ASAP Sports Transcripts

Second disqualification in WTA history

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

Anastasia Rodionova became the second player on the WTA Tour to be disqualified from a match when she smacked a ball Tuesday night toward fans rooting for her opponent at the Cincinnati Women’s Open.

Angelique Kerber was handed a 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 victory when Rodionova hit a ball in the direction of three fans at one end of the court in a display of frustration after she lost the first game of the third set. The ball hit halfway up the wall in front of the stands where the fans were sitting and caromed back onto the court.

Earlier, she had complained about fans applauding for Kerber during points.

While the players were changing sides, the umpire called for tournament referee William Coffey. After a brief discussion, Coffey defaulted Rodionova for “unsportsmanlike conduct,” he said.

“I’m shocked,” Rodionova said. “I still don’t understand why they defaulted me. I’m really upset. I’ve never seen in my life anyone defaulted in this situation. I had no warning. I didn’t hit the ball at anybody. I didn’t swear at anybody. I didn’t throw my racket.”

In the 36-year history of the tour, it is believed that there has been only one other default in the main draw of a tournament, a WTA Tour spokesman said. Irina Spirlea was disqualified in 1996 at Palermo for directing abusive language at an official. MSNBC