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Honesty serves Courier

Jim Courier never has been one to back down from a challenge, especially on the court. So when he decided to retire from the pro tour this spring and offers arrived for television analyst jobs, he couldn't resist.

Courier has spent the past few weeks preparing for his new career as an analyst for Turner Sports, which is taking HBO's place in televising Wimbledon. He is well aware that the job involves more than drawing on his playing experience.

"I don't expect it to be a walk in the park," he said by telephone recently. "I kind of like that. I don't want something easy. Usually it's not that rewarding."

One of the toughest parts of the job for most former pros is being critical of former opponents, many of whom are friends. Will Courier be comfortable criticizing Todd Martin, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, whom he has known for years?

"It is a tough thing, but I think honesty is the best policy. If I see something, I'll have to be honest about it," he said. "I don't have any problems with honesty. I never really have. I think guys in the locker room know that about me, so I don't think anyone will be caught off-guard if I call someone out for tanking or something that's going on that's a little bit dubious.

"I'll do what the job requires. I'll be true to myself. Sugarcoating is not my specialty."

Turner Sports' Wimbledon broadcasts begin June 24 with a tournament preview.

AND YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD PROBLEMS: Vince Spadea of Boca Raton thought his career was on the rise last year. He reached a career-high No. 19 in the rankings and notched a win over Agassi en route to the Australian Open quarterfinals. But this year he has lost his first 12 matches. Eight, however, were in three sets.

FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME: Martina Navratilova always has insisted she doesn't care about superficial things like tour records. Yet, many of the things she does suggest otherwise.

She's in Madrid this week, competing in doubles with Mariaan de Swardt. It's a tuneup for the French Open and Wimbledon.

It's probably just a coincidence that Navratilova, coming out of retirement after 5{ years at age 43, is one shy of tying Billie Jean King's record of 20 Wimbledon titles (singles, doubles and mixed doubles), right?

"I'm not even thinking about winning (Wimbledon)," she said.

DID YOU KNOW?: En route to winning the Italian Open, Monica Seles defeated Maggie Maleeva in the second round. Maleeva was Seles' opponent seven years ago in Hamburg, Germany, when Seles was stabbed at courtside by a crazed fan.

UP AND DOWN WITH JENNY: Jennifer Capriati's heartwarming rise again is stalling. The Saddlebrook Resort pro has been mediocre this season, going 10-6. Nathalie Dechy (20-10) has won twice as many matches.

It was a shock when Capriati was bounced from the opening round of the Italian Open last week by little-known Anne-Gaelle Sidot. Afterward, Capriati said she needed to work on her fitness.

Unless she gets her act together soon, expect another bomb out at the French Open next week.

_ Information from other news organizations was used in this report.