Get Ready for the New Bachelorette
updated 01/19/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 01/19/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST
1. BOB DIDN'T REALLY BREAK HER HEART
Friends say she gracefully accepted her fourth-place finish in the previous Bachelor with Bob Guiney—and at least one was rooting for her to lose. "I did feel they were compatible, but watching Bob with the other girls, I knew it wouldn't last, whoever he picked," says her pal Tracy Chumbley.
2. THE FUNERAL FLAP WAS NOT HER FAULT
Phillips's decision to keep a date with Bob rather than attend her grandmother's funeral shocked some Bachelor viewers. "I really called that shot," says Phillips's mom, Sandy, 61, a Realtor. "Her grandmother was a very private person, and she wouldn't have wanted a lot of fuss."
3. SHE'S BOLDER THAN TRISTA
"Meredith is never afraid to speak her mind," says show coexecutive producer Lisa Levenson. When Bob booted her, ABC got so many complaints they figured she might be Bachelorette material.
4. SHE DIGS JOCKS
In high school the softball player "dated the popular guys, including the quarterback of the football team," says Chumbley. "But she also dated at least one guy who was not so popular."
5. SHE'S FIERCE IN A CATFIGHT
At a girls-only football game in high school, Phillips got into a tussle with another player. "A friend of ours has it on tape, and it looks like they were just beating the crap out of each other," says her dad, Ed, 61, a financial adviser. "She can be very competitive."
6. SHE WAS A COVER GIRL—FOR MICROSOFT
Phillips was shy as an adolescent until her parents sent her to modeling school. "It changed her," says Ed. She went on to graduate from Oregon State University in 1995 with a fine arts degree before working as a model, including posing for the cover of computer software in 2003.
7. SHE'S READY TO GET SERIOUS
"I think she'd like to change her life," says Sandy. "She just turned 30, and I think she'd like to find somebody."
8. HER MR. RIGHT IS SMART—AND TALL
Going into the show, "she wanted somebody with an intellect equal to hers," says Sandy. And preferably someone who could best her 5'10" height.
9. SHE'S NOT AFRAID OF THE DARK
"Meredith can enjoy the finer things in life," says her pal Kirsten Maycumber, "and she could handle living in a cave if she had to. I think she'll take advantage of whatever comes her way."
10. SHE MAY HAVE FOUND THE ONE
Filming of the series wrapped a couple of weeks ago. Reveals Maycumber: "She says she's very happy with the outcome."