By People Staff
July 19, 1999 12:00 PM

On May 28, 18-year-old Alexandra Stevenson graduated from La Jolla Country Day School in San Diego. About a month later, on June 26, after she had trounced her third-round opponent at Wimbledon, she exulted to the press, “It’s like my coming-out party!”

Indeed, few sports debuts have been quite so memorable. And it wasn’t simply that the 6’1″ Stevenson’s pile-driver serve took her all the way to Wimbledon’s semifinals. Her mother, Samantha, 51, created a furor when she implied that the women’s tour was full of aggressive lesbians. (“The biggest threat to girls her age,” she told the British press, “are the other girls on the tour.”)

Samantha, who is white and single, also raised the issue of racism, charging that Alexandra had been the target of a racial epithet during a British tournament last year. It had long been rumored that Alexandra’s father was a well-known African-American sports hero. But by week’s end the rumor had become an established if surprising fact. A Florida newspaper unearthed Stevenson’s birth certificate, which identified her father as Julius Winfield Erving II, a.k.a. Dr. J, one of basketball’s greatest players and, until then, an almost untarnished role model.

Despite the controversy—and her loss in the semifinals to eventual Wimbledon champ Lindsay Davenport—Stevenson seemed just fine. “This has been a fabulous time,” she said. It didn’t hurt that she won about $180,000. “We need to pay off all our debts,” said Alexandra. Her plans? “I’m going to go home, train for the hard-court season,” she said, “and come out ready.”