Pam Shriver reveals ‘inappropriate and damaging’ relationship with former coach

Posted: 21st April 2022

American Pam Shriver, a winner of 22 Grand Slam doubles titles, says she was in an “inappropriate and damaging” relationship with former coach Don Candy during her playing career.

The former world number one said the pair’s relationship started when she was 17 and Candy was 50.

“Don never abused me sexually, but I would say there was emotional abuse,” she told the Daily Telegraph.

Shriver, now 59, said the relationship ended in 1984 when she was 22.

“The short version of this story is that I had an inappropriate and damaging relationship with my much older coach, which began when I was 17 and lasted a little over five years,” she wrote.

Australian Candy died in 2020, aged 91.

“If Don had been better informed, he might have been cannier about the potential complications that come with coaching an adolescent girl. Clearly, he wasn’t a predator,” she added.

“I still have conflicted feelings about Don. Yes, he and I became involved in a long and inappropriate affair. Yes, he was cheating on his wife. But there was a lot about him that was honest and authentic. And I loved him. Even so, he was the grown-up here. He should have been the trustworthy adult.

“Only after therapy did I start to feel a little less responsible. Now, at last, I’ve come to realise that what happened is on him.”

Shriver says she is motivated to tell her story now because she believes present-day players are in similar situations.

“I believe abusive coaching relationships are alarmingly common in sport as a whole,” she added.

“My particular expertise, though, is in tennis, where I have witnessed dozens of instances in my four and a bit decades as a player and commentator.

“Every time I hear about a player who is dating their coach, or I see a male physio working on a female body in the gym, it sets my alarm bells ringing.

“For any player or athlete who might be reading this, I want to emphasise the downsides of blurring personal and professional boundaries”

She added: “The point has to be made very clearly: these kinds of relationships are not appropriate, and there will be consequences for those who cross the line.”


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