Most people will, of course, remember Ann Jones for her Wimbledon win in 1969 beating Billie-Jean King in the final although by far her best performance and voted the match of the year by correspondents was her semi victory there over Margaret Court. Afterwards people tend to forget semi-finals and in truth the final was a pretty mediocre affair.
However, over that year as a whole Ann had periods of some patchy form and it is my belief that her best and most prolonged level of performance was actually in 1966 when mid-year she was fighting for the #1 spot with a realistic chance of achieving it.
Apr 14th, 2011, 06:53 PM
Ann's parents were both Table Tennis Internationals and she began to play both that sport and tennis from an early age.
Originally she concentrated more on Table Tennis becoming an English International but was also a top junior in the tennis world winning the Junior Wimbledon title twice in the mid-50s.
Her peak in Table Tennis came in the World Championships in Stockholm in 1958 where she was runner-up in all three events (singles, womens and mixed doubles). As so often later in her tennis career she just fell short of the line losing the singles final 21-19 in the final set.
At her first Wimbledon in 1956 she lost in 2r to Ann Shilcock an English International. But in only her second Slam entry at RG in 1957 she broke through to make the semi-final losing in two extended sets to Dottie Knode.
At the following Wimbledon she was beaten in 3r in three sets by Edda Buding but at the end of the year had achieved a top 10 ranking and thereafter was almost always in the latter stages at the Slams.
When she appeared to be going backwards in Table Tennis losing in the semi-finals at the World Championships in 1959 Ann made the decision to give the game up and make Tennis her priority.
Apr 18th, 2011, 06:57 PM
Ann had a compact serve, probably average for the day although the second serve wasn't much better than a dolly-dropper, a topspin forehand which was probably a better shot than most gave her credit for, but as with most left-handers a weak backhand. Her instinct was to play from the baseline and she was prepared to run herself into the ground.
Her great strength was her tactical ability - she knew exactly how to best beat a player, it was just a question of whether her game was strong enough.
In 1960 she decided to experiment with a serve and volley game and had great success with this in the Caribbean winning four events beating Maria Bueno and furthermore Darlene Hard several times in winning four events.
However bad luck dogged her in the Slams. At RG just before she was to play Vera Puzejeva in L16 she developed a raging toothache - too late for treatment she had to play in pain and her concentration was shot. She did well to take the match to 8-6 fs and while Vera was a fine claycourt player and certainly capable of beating the top players at the time, in normal circumstances Ann would probably have won.
At Wimbledon to go 5-2 up in the final set against Sandra Reynolds she hit a smash which missed the sideline by the merest fraction and lost the next four games and the match. The strange thing was that the correspondents all seemed to agree that had she played her normal game instead of S&V she would have won the match - how weird is that for Wimbledon?
At Forest Hills in the quarters she played Donna Floyd whom she had beaten for the loss of just 2 games earlier in the year. Again freak circumstances, there was an almost gale force wind which made normal play impossible. It was a complete lottery and Donna won 9-7 in fs.
At the end of the year Ann had one of the best tournament victories of her career when she beat both Maria Bueno and Darlene Hard in winning the Pacific Southwest regarded as the most prestigious event outside of the major Nationals.
Her record against the leading players was 3-3 Bueno, 6-2 Hard and 2-1 Reynolds. Lance Tingay ranked her #6 but Ned Potter of World Tennis put her at #3.
Perhaps it was the lack of success at the Slams which decided Ann to revert to her normal game from 1961 and who knows if she hadn't the two French titles she won might not have been forthcoming.
Early Season was disappointing she lost numerous matches,although to be fair many of these were finals, and had an early exit at the Italian to the upcoming Lesley Turner. Then she seemed to click at RG when she beat the new sensation Margaret Smith in the quarters (why such a great allcourt player thought her best chance of beating Ann by playing solely from the back of a the court is a real mystery), the claycourt Queen Suzy Kormoczy in the semis and then surprise finalist Yola Ramirez to annexe the title.
At Wimbledon under pressure from this victory and the British media she lost in 4r to Renee Schuurman although that cannot be described as a bad result just disappointing.
Then at Forest Hills she inflicted one of the few defeats of the year on the new Wimbledon champ Angela Mortimer in the semis before losing to Darlene Hard in the final.
This time because of her Slam performances she was ranked #3 by both Potter and Tingay despite losing h2hs against many players and without having played as well overall as 1960!
1962 was an average year with a couple of Slam semis at RG and Wimbledon before Ann married Pip Jones in August. One match of note was the German final when she led Sandra Reynolds (whom she had beaten at Wimbledon) 5-2 final set before succumbing 7-5. This was another match in which she was near the line but couldn't quite get over it and helped to form the reputation which she built up in this respect.
1963 was a frustrating year.
May 11th, 2011, 06:40 PM
Encouraged by Pip Ann made an all out assault on the "Big 3".
She was in devastating form at the French double-bagelling Jan Lehane and then Vera Sukova who had magnificently beaten Margaret Court could only take one game off her.
She seemed about to conquer her clay court nemesis when she led Lesley Turner 5-2 double break in the final set. Serving for the title in the next game she was on the wrong end of THREE let chords and lost it to 15. Although she didn't go to pieces for the remaining games were closely contested she lost them all and the match at 7-5.
Another Wimbledon semi but her opponent was Billie Jean. Although she had beaten her the year before BJ was now a much more complete player. She had her game down to perfection against Ann on grass serving to the backhand and rushing to the net to volley away the high return. BJ was to become Ann's bete-noir. She was simply the better player and the score 6-4 6-4 reflected the extent to which was able to resist her.
At Forest Hills having astonishingly lost to Darlene Hard in the quarters at Foro Italico in straight sets she turned the tables by winning in straight sets on the grass. Then in the semis in an exciting match against Maria Bueno she broke in the first game of the final set and held that advantage all the way to serving for the match at 5-4. Once again she added to her reputation of leading coming up the finishing line in a big match but being unable to cross it. She eventually lost out 9-7.
So a couple of points difference in a couple of matches could have made what was a good year into a brilliant one.
At this stage having won RG and reached four Wimbledon semis Ann thought this was probably as well as he could do, particularly with Court, Bueno and now Billie Jean on grass. Retirement was on her mind.