Forget gangly John McEnroe and Pete Sampras; the tennis body (and legs) of today belongs to hard-hitting, hard-to-miss MaliVai (pronounced Mal-uh-VEE-ya) Washington, 24. The up-and-comer, a former NCAA champ at the University of Michigan, cracked the men’s Top 20 last year, thanks to a rocket serve and a rocklike physique. Says tennis writer and TV commentator Bud Collins: “He’s a young Sidney Poitier. All the ladies are crazy about his quads. He’s the Quad-Squad guy.”
Maybe so, but the Michigan-raised Washington doesn’t groom to please. “If I shave, it’s a look,” he says, “and if that doesn’t do it, too bad.” With his gaze fixed on No. 1, Washington, who lives near Jacksonville, Fla., and has a “semiserious” girlfriend, works out at the gym, runs for 2 hours and then practices 4 hours a day. No wonder his quads ripple. “They’re kinda defined,” he concedes. Yeah, and the Atlantic Ocean is kinda wet.