Rakuten Open 2009 Day 5

About 4am last Sunday in the chilly early morning air of Stockholm, Sweden, two men entered a hotel accompanied by two young women. The men were tennis players in town for the Stockholm Open though only one of them was entered into the tournament.

As they entered the hotel, the players were arrested by local police who’d been keeping tabs on the two women. The women were prostitutes and the players were charged with soliciting sex. They spent the rest of the night in jail but were released after signing a confession and paying a fine of 2500 Swedish krona (about US $370).

The police have confirmed that much and nothing more. The rest of our information comes from tour players who say that the two men were Ernests Gulbis (pictured above) and his friend and hitting partner David Juksha.

Okay, first of all, if this had happened in the US, the police report and the mug shots would have been up on the internet by the end of the day. And the prostitutes would have hired publicists and had feelers for a reality show soon thereafter – that is after they were arrested and paid their fine.

But the prostitutes in Sweden weren’t arrested and this set me off on a trip through prostitution and the legal system. In some countries you can be executed, in some countries prostitution is legal and regulated, and in some countries – like Sweden – the person soliciting sex is arrested and not the prostitute. Sweden views prostitution as violence against women.

If the players had been arrested in certain places in the United States, they would have been given the option to pay a fine and go to a one day John’s school which is similar to going to traffic school to get a traffic ticket wiped off your record. All this leads me to wonder a few things.

First of all, shouldn’t the ATP create a card similar to the card listing banned substances that any player can download from the ATP website? The card could list the legal status of prostitution by country and players could slip it into their wallets next to their drug cards and their condoms.

Second, why do athletes need an escort service? Don’t women flock to good looking potential millionaires? Especially Gulbis who comes from a wealthy family. I suppose it’s one way to avoid emotional entanglement though, for me, that takes some of the fun out of it. I have considered using an escort service but I was always worried about getting arrested. And I’ve never been able to erase the image of Jane Fonda looking at her watch as she turns a trick in the movie Klute. I mean, how much could an escort be into it?

There is one more thing I wondered about. How often does this happen on the ATP tour? There have been plenty of athletes (and politicians) turning up on the client list of call girls, but I haven’t seen it in the tennis world. The closest thing to an answer came from tennis writer extraordinaire Matt Cronin who’s twitter feed pointedly mentioned an 11 slam winner who had a glowing reputation for the same behavior.

There are three players who’ve won 11 slams: Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver, and Serena Williams. There are escort services that provide male clientele for their female customers but that’s far more rare than the other way around. And though I’m sure most female escorts would be more than willing to service female clientele, if Serena were into women, I’d probably know about it.

Okay, then, what do you think? Who was Cronin referring to: Laver or Bjorg?

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