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newmark401
Dec 1st, 2011, 10:46 PM
By Mark Ryan


The most difficult part of Maureen Connolly’s 1952-3 tour of Australia might have been the getting there. In those days, before travel by jet airliners became common, the journey by air took much longer than it does now because of the need for stopovers. Doris Hart, Maureen’s compatriot and contemporary, had taken a similar route during her Australian tour of 1948-9 and wrote of the journey as follows in the chapter of her 1955 autobiography “Tennis With Hart” entitled “The Land Down Under”: “I flew straight through from Los Angeles to Sydney with the usual stops en route for refuelling and engine checks and whatever it is planes stop for on long trips. I remember coming down at a small island in the Pacific for the customary half hour used for crew changeover and check-up.” (Today, a non-stop flight from Los Angeles to Sydney takes an average of fourteen-and-a-half hours.)

Like Doris Hart, Maureen would have had time to practise and acclimatise herself to the new playing conditions before taking part in her first tournament. In her autobiography, Doris Hart wrote: “It was not easy to adjust to the different balls, rackets, courts, and the strangeness of the light. The latter proved to be most puzzling. I tried to figure out the reason and came to this conclusion: Australia is much closer to the Equator than we are in the States, and this makes the rays of the sun brighter and stronger. It was fully three weeks before I saw the ball well…”

Doris Hart had originally planned to travel to Australia with Louise Brough, but Louise had had to cancel at the last minute, which meant Doris travelled alone. Maureen Connolly was luckier in that she had a travelling companion, and someone with whom she had a good rapport, her compatriot Julie Sampson. Both Maureen and Julie were just eighteen when the tour began.

Their schedule included a number of exhibition matches, tournaments and social events. The first tournament in which they played was the prestigious New South Wales Open, held at the White City Tennis Club in Sydney towards the end of November. Several patterns set here were to be repeated throughout the coming two months or so that the tour lasted. One pattern was Maureen’s winning the singles event in straight sets; another was her beating Julie Sampson in the final; still another was Maureen and Julie’s winning the women’s doubles event together.

It is clear that, despite the diminutive stature which had helped to earn her the nickname “Little Mo”, Maureen stood head-and-shoulders above the rest of the field in each of the singles events she played. Although Nancye Bolton had turned professional and Thelma Long was not competing in Australia that season, it is extremely unlikely that even those two talented Australian players would have been any match for Maureen.

Her toughest singles match was, in fact, her first one, against Jane Edmondson, an Australian, whom she beat 9-7, 6-0 in the first round of the New South Wales Championships. This was the only time Maureen was taken to an advantage set in a singles match in the four tournaments in which she competed during her tour down under. She next played competitively at the Victorian Championships, held in Melbourne just over a week after the New South Wales Open. Here, Maureen won four singles matches for a total loss of fourteen games, four of which were taken by Julie Sampson in the final.

After the Christmas break Maureen took part in what was to be the biggest tournament in which she would compete during her tour, the Australian National Championships. In those days the tournament was held at alternate events, thus giving each of Australia’s main tennis cities a chance to host it. In 1953, it was held from 8-17 January at Kooyong Stadium, in Melbourne. In “Tennis with Hart”, Doris Hart wrote of this venue: “The famous Kooyong Stadium in Melbourne is quite similar to our Forest Hills. It resembles a horseshoe with two courts inside the stadium. As in Sydney, there are forty or more courts, all grass, surrounding the clubhouse.”

Across a time span of more than fifty years it is possible to argue that Maureen won the singles event at the Australian Championships with ridiculous ease. Certainly her scores indicate that this was the case. After all, she lost only eleven games in six matches, five of them to Julie Sampson, whom she beat 6-3, 6-2 in the final. Maureen’s win is still the most one-sided in the history of the tournament for a player playing through and winning five matches.

Perhaps some of Maureen’s opponents thought they might have had a chance against her (all of them, except Julie Sampson, were Australian and would more than likely not have had a chance of seeing Maureen play before because in those days comparatively few players travelled outside of Australia to tournaments abroad; the same is true for foreign players in relation to Australian tournaments. Long-distance travel was still in its infancy at that time.)

Carmen Borelli, who later married Brian Tobin, future president of the International Tennis Federation, was Maureen’s first-round opponent at the Australian Championships. She was beaten 6-0, 6-1 and, as was often the case in a match involving Maureen, the score speaks for itself. Looking back at the match fifty years later, Carmen was to say, “We knew Maureen was good. After all, she was the US champ and had won Wimbledon in ‘52. But we couldn’t imagine how good. It was soon apparent. Her shots were harder and deeper than anything we’d ever seen, and she seldom missed.”

But, apparently, there was a way to beat Maureen. According to Lance Tingay, writing in “100 Years of Wimbledon”, “Theorists had reasoned that the best way to play her was down the middle of the court, giving no angles and no great pace. That she was vulnerable to such tactics was evident. It was another thing to put theory into practice and succeed.” And how did Maureen beat her opponents? Tingay again: “Her strength was her driving skill, tremendous on the forehand but overwhelmingly so, such was its pace and control, from the backhand. […] Her concentration on the court was entire. When she won a point she gave a little nod of the head as she turned to resume her position at the back.”

The “New York Times” of 17 January 1953 reported that Maureen’s victory in the final of the Australian Championships took only 35 minutes and that “she amazed the crowd of 5,000 with the depth of her accurate drives and passing shots. The victor lapsed just once. In the sixth game of the second set Julie forced errors from her to take the champion’s service for the only time in the match. [Ken] Rosewall, like Miss Connolly in the women’s division, became the youngest ever to win the Australian men’s title”.

At that point in the tournament’s history Maureen was only the fourth foreign player to take the women’s singles title at the Australian Championships, after Dorothy Round of Great Britain in 1935, and Maureen’s compatriots Dorothy Bundy (1938), Doris Hart (1949) and Louise Brough (1950). Like her, each of them had also won the singles event on their debut. Maureen competed in one more tournament, the South Australian Championships, held in Adelaide at the end of January 1953, and again easily won the singles title. She and Julie Sampson left Australia on 5 February 1953.

How must Maureen have felt while flying back to the United States after her triumphs Down Under? Was she more confident than ever of being able to complete the Grand Slam of the major tournaments in one year, something only Donald Budge had done before her, fifteen years previously? Was she even thinking of a Grand Slam?

Nowadays, talk of this achievement is not uncommon, especially when a top player takes the first leg in Australia at the start of the year. However, this was not always the case. The term “Grand Slam” had first been applied to tennis only twenty years earlier by the “New York Times” journalist John Kieran, in relation to Jack Crawford, who in 1933 won the Australian, French and Wimbledon titles and headed to the US Nationals at Forest Hills as the overwhelming favourite. “If Crawford wins, it would be something like scoring a grand slam on the courts, doubled and vulnerable,” wrote Kieran who was also a bridge player. (Crawford lost to Fred Perry in the final at Forest Hills in 1933. Donald Budge of the United States won the first Grand Slam in 1938.)

It is difficult to believe that the possibility of achieving this rare feat never crossed Maureen’s mind even though she might not have spoken openly about it. “If Mo had any intention of making a Slam, she never mentioned it, and we had a lot of time to talk about everything,” said Julie Sampson (now Mrs Haywood) looking back on that time fifty years later. Of course, the possibility was there whether or not Maureen deliberately set out to win the Grand Slam. It was there, too, for Ken Rosewall, winner of the men’s singles title at that year’s Australian Championships. It is always there for the winner of the men’s and women’s singles titles at what is now the Australian Open.

The next major of the year, the French Championships, took place in Paris from 19 to 31 May 1953. It might be stating the obvious to say that Maureen was the top seed and favourite, yet, curiously, she might not have been feeling like the favourite at the beginning of the tournament (her first appearance at the French Championships) because only three weeks earlier she had lost a singles match for the first time in nearly ten months. This was at the Italian Championships in Rome, where Doris Hart beat her in a close match, 4-6, 9-7, 6-3.

Although it is not an exaggeration to state that Maureen had no real rival in singles during the brief period in which she reigned supreme (from the US Nationals in September 1951 to just after Wimbledon in 1954), if there was anyone who even remotely deserved that title, surely it was Doris Hart. More often the bridesmaid than the bride in major singles finals, Doris was nevertheless a tenacious player who had overcome a serious infirmity as a child before becoming one of the world’s best tennis players.

In a strange way her and Maureen’s fates were linked, for Doris was one of only two players ever to beat Maureen at a major singles tournament (6-2, 7-5 in the second round of the 1950 US Nationals, when Doris was 25 and Maureen nearly 16). It was also against Doris that Maureen won the match which was to prove to be a turning-point in the latter’s career, in the semi-finals of the 1951 US Nationals, when Doris was the defending champion and top seed, and Maureen a sixteen-year-old challenger with nothing to lose. In a match played over two days due to bad weather Maureen had won the first 6-4 (from 0-4) down and, on the following day, showed the stronger nerve to win the second set by the same score. In the final against Shirley Fry, Maureen again displayed nerves of steel and skill beyond her years to win the title and become the youngest ever winner of the US Nationals.

An aura of near-invincibility began to settle on Maureen after this win, though it must be said that she had to earn it by winning title after title. Only two players beat her in 1952, Louise Brough in the final of the Southern California Championships in May by a score of 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 and, as previously mentioned, Doris Hart, who won 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 in the semi-finals of the Eastern Grass Court Championships in New Jersey in August.

Doris Hart’s victory in the final of the 1953 Italian Championships was thus her second victory over Maureen since the latter had become the world’s best player. The “New York Times” of 12 May 1953 carried a report of how Doris achieved this rare feat: “Maureen, who hadn’t yielded a set in the tournament, started out as if she planned to make short work of Miss Hart. Booming her serve and hitting powerful placements from the baseline, the blond Californian captured the first set and raced through the first three games of the second. At this point Miss Hart changed her tactics. Instead of forcing the attack, she remained in the back court and played a steady driving game, letting her opponent make the errors. This way the tall Florida woman won five games in a row. The set was deuced three times. Miss Hart had two opportunities to win it at 7-6 and three more at 8-7 before she finally scored on a sharp cross-court shot that caught Maureen flat-footed. Doris opened the third set with gusto, winning the first two games. Maureen came back to take the next three, but appeared to tire and lose control. Doris then finished the match quickly.”

It is clear that the Doris’s change of tactics and her own steady game from the back of the court contributed significantly to her victory, which must have given her a boost of confidence heading into the French Championships, where she was the defending champion. The same two players were to play in the final in Paris, but this time Maureen would be the winner, by a score of 6-2, 6-4. This result does not flatter Doris, but accounts of the match indicate that it could have been worse because Maureen raced to a 5-0 lead in the first set and it was only Doris’s famous tenacity which enabled her to take two games before Maureen closed it out. Just as she had done in Rome, Maureen started as if she was in a hurry, but this time she did not falter with victory in sight.

According to the “Desert News” of 30 May 1953, “Little Mo played near perfect tennis to overwhelm her opponent... Her stylish ground shots, sweeping the court from left to right, pinned Miss Hart at the baseline, thus preventing the defending champion from making use of her usually sharp volleying game. Some 7,000 fans were on hand early to applaud Miss Connolly’s 50-minute victory.”

The “New York Times” of 31 May 1953 provided more details of the match: “Making a minimum of errors, Miss Connolly was clearing the net by only a few inches with her sizzling cross-court shots in the first set in which she stormed to a 5-0 lead. Miss Hart opened with a double fault and didn’t have a chance until she finally broke through Miss Connolly’s service and then held her own to trail 5-2. Then Little Mo won her service at love to run out the set. Miss Hart improved in the second set with each player holding serve until the score reached 2-2. Then Miss Hart held her serve to reach 3-2. Each held service until 4-4 when Miss Connolly came back from 15-40 to win the game after a long back-court exchange. Leading by 5-4 she served to a 30-0 lead but Miss Hart drew level at 30-30 with well-placed forehands. Miss Connolly had match point when Miss Hart netted a forehand and then won on the next point when Miss Hart again netted a forehand.”

Perhaps it is not an exaggeration to claim that Doris was rather lucky to win six games against a Maureen in such form. Only one of Maureen’s five opponents at the 1953 French Championships took more than six games off her, namely Susan Partridge Chatrier, British-born but married to Philippe Chatrier, future head of both the French and International Tennis Federations, and playing for France. Susan achieved the unique feat of winning the only set Maureen was to lose in the four majors on her road to the Grand Slam. In their quarter-final match Susan won the first set 6-3 before Maureen turned things around by taking the next two, 6-2, 6-2. Maureen does not appear to have been in any real danger of losing that match and it may well have sharpened her game in time for the final a few days later.

Once again Maureen had won a major singles title on her debut, this time on a surface, red clay, which was not common outside of Continental Europe. At that time the other three major championships were still played on grass, unlike today when the grass of Wimbledon is the exception and the hard courts of the Australian and US Opens the norm. When Margaret Court won the Grand Slam in 1970, the surfaces at the major tournaments were unchanged. Eighteen years later, when Steffi Graf achieved the rarest of feats, the US Open had gone from grass to clay (1975-77) to hard courts, while the Australian Open, held at the new venue of Flinders Park, displayed its equally new hard courts for the first time (this venue even has a retractable roof for its main court and Steffi Graf won most of her 1988 Australian Open final against Chris Evert more or less indoors due to bad weather!).

At just eighteen years, eight months and thirteen days old Maureen was now the holder of all four major singles titles. What is more, she had won three of them on her debut (Wimbledon in 1952 in addition to the 1953 Australian and French Championships). No woman and only one man (Donald Budge, from Wimbledon 1937 to the 1938 French Championships) had ever won more than three consecutive major singles titles before Maureen, and only one player (Helen Wills, who won the French, Wimbledon and US Championships in 1927 and 1928) had ever won more than two consecutive major singles titles before (Helen Wills never made the trip to Australia).

Despite all of this, it is likely that there was still not much talk of a Grand Slam, certainly not of one having been achieved by Maureen at the French Championships in 1953. After all, the trick was to win the four majors not just consecutively, but in the same year. In order to do this, Maureen still had to successfully defend her Wimbledon and US National titles. After her victory in Paris she must have headed for the grass courts of England with renewed confidence. Another player heading confidently to Wimbledon in 1953 was Ken Rosewall who, like Maureen, had built on his success in the Australian Championships in January by also winning the French Championships in Paris. For the first time in history a simultaneous Grand Slam was on in the major singles events.

Between the French Championships and Wimbledon Maureen played the singles event in the Kent Championships in Beckenham, England. She won the title easily, beating Julie Sampson 6-2, 6-3 in the final. At Wimbledon, as top seed, Maureen marched to the final. To say that she did not drop a set along the way would be a gross understatement because she hardly dropped a game in a series of victories which recalled the ease with which Suzanne Lenglen and Helen Wills Moody, two great former champions, used to stride to their tournament wins.

After receiving a bye in the first round, Maureen won her first three matches for the loss of just four games. In the quarter-final she beat Erika Vollmer of Germany, who was unseeded, 6-3, 6-0. (In the men’s competition at the same quarter-final stage Ken Rosewall’s bid for a Grand Slam came to an end when he lost to the unseeded Kurt Nielsen of Denmark. There would be no parallel singles Grand Slams in 1953. There never has been, in any year.)

In the semi-final Maureen played Shirley Fry, who was seeded three and the first seed Maureen had faced so far in the tournament. In a devastating display of power-hitting Maureen won 6-1, 6-1 in just 32 minutes to reach her second consecutive Wimbledon singles final and her fifth final in a row in a major tournament. On her way to the final she had lost just nine games in five matches.

“This was the best tennis I ever played,” said Maureen after thrashing Shirley Fry. That is an interesting statement because many observers considered the tennis she was to play in the final some of the best tennis ever played by two women. It is important to state “by two women” because Maureen’s opponent in the Wimbledon final that year, Doris Hart, the number two seed and a familiar face across the net, contributed her share of great tennis.

If Maureen’s scores in singles matches tell a story, usually one-sided, of their own, her victory over Doris Hart, by a score of 8-6, 7-5, indicates that the familiar plot did not unfold in this final. In this one match Maureen lost more games than she had in her previous five matches combined! Doris Hart had lost no sets but twice as many games as Maureen on her way to the final, a factor which might have helped sharpen her game, enabling her to peak at just the right time.

The women’s singles final had taken place on Saturday, 4 July. Susan Noel, writing in the “Sunday Times” the following day, stated that, “Both players were on top of their form. Miss Hart had obviously planned to play the youthful champion from the back of the court, a campaign she stuck to throughout and her ability to half-volley from the baseline stood her in good stead. Up to 3-all in the first set the players were driving to the line with amazing speed and exactitude. At this point Miss Connolly hit faster and faster and deeper and deeper.”

Max Robertson, in his book “Wimbledon 1877-1977”, wrote: “In the first set Maureen led 5-3, but nervously double-faulted twice. However, at 7-6 she had Doris 0-40. Doris saved two set points but on the third put her forehand out. Connolly dropped the opening game of the second set, uncharacteristically making three mistakes, a reaction to that thrilling first set. However, she quickly took two services from Doris to lead 3-1 then dropped her own and games went with serve to 5-5. At 4-4 Doris had a heaven-sent chance to break when she had two advantages in a game of six deuces on Maureen’s service. But Little Mo, as always when danger reared, hit her way out of trouble. She went to 6-5 and then won Doris’s service to love.”

According to the “Victorian Advocate” of 5 July 1953, “Both Americans were so exhausted physically and so keyed by nervous tension that when Doris Hart hit the last heartbreaking sideline drive they were both close to tears. Eighteen-year-old Maureen gulped as her chaperon, Nell Hopman, flung her arms about her. Afterwards, Maureen said, ‘That was close, too close. I felt the nervous strain out there more this year than last year and I was very tired at the end. When Doris is tough – and she was tough today – she is very hard to beat. Fortunately for me she missed a few shots today and that helped a lot’.”

Looking back fifty years later, in 2003, Doris Hart said of Maureen, “She was so quick, accurate and competitive. I know I never played anybody as good. You might be ahead 40-0, but she made you feel like it was 0-40. I think I peaked - I actually felt like I’d won - in the ‘53 Wimbledon final. She beat me, 8-6, 7-5. The shame is that she isn’t around for this golden anniversary.”

Poor Doris Hart! In her autobiography she omits virtually any mention of this year of 1953, despite the admirable manner in which she acquitted herself. It is clear that her losses to Maureen in the final of the French Championships and Wimbledon frustrated her, although she had already won the singles title at both of those events. The one major missing from Doris’s collection of singles by the summer of 1953 was the US Nationals and in “Tennis with Hart” she states that it was the one title she really wanted to win, mainly because it was her national championship. By 1953 she had already been runner-up at Forest Hills four times and was wearying of the “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” tag.

Unfortunately for Doris, she would have to wait yet another year to claim her national title. Although she reached the final at Forest Hills for the fifth time, it was Maureen who took her third consecutive title and with it the Grand Slam. In her usual impressive manner Maureen had strode to the final without losing a set. Althea Gibson, who had just turned 26 and was yet to win a major title, gave Maureen her toughest match on the way to the final, the score being 6-2, 6-3. In the semi-final Maureen played Shirley Fry and did exactly what she had done to her at the same stage at Wimbledon two months earlier, namely annihilate her 6-1, 6-1.

The final between Maureen and Doris marked the first occasion on which two women had played each other for the three major titles in one year (this happened again thirty-one years later in 1984 when Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert Lloyd played for the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles, with Martina, like Maureen in 1953, winning each time; it happened for a third time in 2002, when Serena Williams beat her sister, Venus, in the same three finals). The score in the US Nationals final in 1953 was 6-2, 6-4 and once again Doris’s fighting spirit had prevented the final result from looking embarrassing.

In the “New York Times”, Allison Danzig wrote: “In forty-three minutes, Miss Connolly, with her devastating speed and length off the ground and showing vast improvement since last year, took the match before some 12,000 on the stadium of the West Side Tennis Club, 6-2, 6-4. Miss Hart, a finalist five times and a strong hitter in her own right, resorted to every device, including changes of spin, length and pace, in an effort to slow down her opponent. But Miss Connolly went implacably on to victory in one of her finest performances. She was irresistible except for a momentary wavering when she stood within a stroke of ending matters at 6-2 in the final set and yielded two more games to Miss Hart.”

And that was that. There was no fanfare, few headlines and certainly no million dollar cheques or bonuses. Looking back on Maureen’s achievement with fifty years’ hindsight, Doris Hart said: “Nobody talked about records and titles much in our amateur day. I had a few myself, but people weren’t counting. The main idea was to travel and have fun, and we did. There was no money to speak of.”

Nearly sixty years later only two women have duplicated Maureen’s feat of winning all four majors in one year, though Maureen, who was not quite 19 at the time, remains the youngest to do so. Margaret Court was ten years older when she won her singles Grand Slam in 1970 and Steffi Graf was nearly 19 years and 3 months old when she won hers in 1988.

Maureen, Margaret Court and Martina Navratilova are the only three women ever to have won six consecutive major singles titles. Margaret won every major from the 1969 US Open through to the 1971 Australian Open, inclusive. Martina took every major from the 1983 Wimbledon to the 1984 US Open, inclusive. Unlike Maureen, Margaret’s and Martina’s run ended in defeat. Maureen did not defend her Australian Nationals title in 1954, but did win the French Championships and Wimbledon again that year before a riding accident later that summer put her out of the game for good a couple of months before her twentieth birthday.
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Maureen Connolly’s route to the Grand Slam

1953 Australian Championships, Melbourne
R1 Carmen Boreilli, AUS 6-0, 6-1
R2 Alison Burton Baker, AUS 6-1, 6-0
QF Pam Southcombe, AUS 6-0, 6-1
SF Mary Bevis Hawton, AUS 6-2, 6-1
F Julie Sampson, USA 6-3, 6-2

1953 French Championships, Paris
R1 Christiane Mercelis, BEL 6-1, 6-3
R2 Raymonde Verber Jones, FRA 6-3, 6-1
QF Susan Chatrier, FRA 3-6, 6-2, 6-2
SF Dorothy Knode, USA 6-3, 6-3
F Doris Hart, USA 6-2, 6-4

1953 Wimbledon, London
R1 Dora Killian, SA 6-0, 6-0
R2 Jean Petchell, GB 6-1, 6-1
R3 Anne Shilcock, GB 6-0, 6-1
QF Erika Vollmer, GER 6-3, 6-0
SF Shirley Fry, USA 6-1, 6-1
F Doris Hart, USA 8-6, 7-5

1953, US Championships, Forest Hills
R1 Jean Fallot, USA 6-1, 6-0
R2 Patricia Stewart, USA 6-3, 6-1
R3 Jeanne Arth, USA 6-1, 6-3
QF Althea Gibson, USA 6-2, 6-3
SF Shirley Fry, USA 6-1, 6-1
F Doris Hart, USA 6-2, 6-4
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Sam L
Dec 2nd, 2011, 09:16 AM
Six in a row, four in a year and ended by default not by defeat. Perhaps the most special run ever in Grand Slam history.

Same as Donald Budge, I think.

GeeTee
Dec 2nd, 2011, 09:46 AM
An excellent piece of writing. Nice one Mark.

Calvin M.
Dec 4th, 2011, 10:05 PM
Gotta feel for Hart but hats off to Little Mo's abilities and determination.

austinrunner
Dec 5th, 2011, 11:21 AM
Six in a row, four in a year and ended by default not by defeat.

No. A match is not "defaulted" unless the person entered the tournament.

Sam L
Dec 7th, 2011, 08:39 AM
No. A match is not "defaulted" unless the person entered the tournament.
I didn't say she defaulted. I said "by default" which means because of a failure to do something which in this case is because of a failure to appear in Australia in 1954 to continue her streak.

newmark401
Dec 7th, 2011, 10:54 AM
I didn't say she defaulted. I said "by default" which means because of a failure to do something which in this case is because of a failure to appear in Australia in 1954 to continue her streak.

If I remember correctly, in "Forehand Drive", her autobiography, Maureen said that she planned to defend her singles title at the US Championships in 1954 and to play Wimbledon and the US Championships again in 1955, but then to turn professional. I don't think she would have gone Down Under again in late 1954/early 1955, but she might well have played the French Championships again in 1955. But most of this is speculation.

Sam L
Dec 7th, 2011, 11:04 AM
If I remember correctly, in "Forehand Drive", her autobiography, Maureen said that she planned to defend her singles title at the US Championships in 1954 and to play Wimbledon and the US Championships again in 1955, but then to turn professional. I don't think she would have gone Down Under again in late 1954/early 1955, but she might well have played the French Championships again in 1955. But most of this is speculation.
That is very interesting. I didn't know that. I didn't even know she had an autobiography.

austinrunner
Dec 7th, 2011, 01:46 PM
Connolly Brinker didn't return for the same reason Hingis took so long to come back: her damages lawsuit dragged on and on. Playing while the suit was pending would have lessened her claim for damages.

GeeTee
Dec 7th, 2011, 04:11 PM
Connolly Brinker didn't return for the same reason Hingis took so long to come back
Surely you mean Hingis Hutin..

newmark401
Dec 10th, 2011, 11:17 AM
Connolly Brinker didn't return for the same reason Hingis took so long to come back: her damages lawsuit dragged on and on. Playing while the suit was pending would have lessened her claim for damages.

Maureen Connolly began to practise lawn tennis again in late 1954 (her accident occurred in July of 1954). However, although she took things relatively easy on the court to begin with, when playing an exhibition match against Lester Stoefen in January 1955, she experienced shooting pains in her right leg when she tried to run for a difficult drop shot. It was at that point that she realized things would never be the same again.

Her compensation case took quite a long time before it was finally resolved in 1958, when Maureen, now married to Norman Brinker, was awarded just over $110,000.

laschutz
Dec 10th, 2011, 05:11 PM
kind of off topic, but in regards' to maureen's game.. after watching videos of her playing she seems to be how should i say very much a uptempo, almost robotic in her play... not stiff and mechanical like tracy austin, but all that "jumping up and down on her toes" on every stroke and every point,this constant moving,.. hitting the ball the same way.. very rhythmic to her play, which on the downside i could totally see how she could have trouble with a player who just "pushed the ball" was a "hacker" and a "slowballer" which i sense is the term they used back then which we would now call a "moonballer" ala andrea jaeger...

it would seem that a andrea jaeger type moonballer would give connolly fits and alot of trouble.. being that during little mo's grand slam year, susan partridge gave her the most trouble winning the only set and the year previously coming very close to defeating connolly at the 52 wimbledon, employing her "no pace, slow balling" tactics.. although i wonder if partridge was a hacker who just got the ball back down the middle or did she actually employ big ole high moonballs to maureen too?

it seems all the top players hart, fry, brough, etcetera that was the tactic they all used meaning not giving maureen any pace, using as much variety and spins and what not as possible... and what not, but i wonder if any of these players actually used andrea jaeger moonball shots throughout the match to defeat and give maureen trouble?

like i said connolly reminds me alot like tracy austin.. not as mechanical and stiff and without any variety and not a great tactical mind like austin, but similar is that like austin she seems very almost 1 dimensional, very "rhythm" and could alot of times whether successfully enough throughout a match to defeat her, be thrown off her game big time by a player who didn't give them her ( connolly,austin) her pace and constant tempo/rhythm? and like austin, no plan b to fall back on and like austin the type of player who would get impatient and flustered on the court playing someone like a king or goolagong who used their variety and wily tactics on austin to defeat her....

austinrunner
Dec 11th, 2011, 07:18 AM
Maureen Connolly began to practise lawn tennis again in late 1954 (her accident occurred in July of 1954). However, although she took things relatively easy on the court to begin with, when playing an exhibition match against Lester Stoefen in January 1955, she experienced shooting pains in her right leg when she tried to run for a difficult drop shot. It was at that point that she realized things would never be the same again.

Her compensation case took quite a long time before it was finally resolved in 1958, when Maureen, now married to Norman Brinker, was awarded just over $110,000.

That's inaccurate in a number of respects. See these posts:
http://www.tennisforum.com/showpost.php?p=19714955&postcount=39
http://www.tennisforum.com/showpost.php?p=19718996&postcount=41

Other threads devoted to Maureen Connolly Brinker:
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=126280
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=391953

newmark401
Dec 11th, 2011, 02:32 PM
That's inaccurate in a number of respects. See these posts:
http://www.tennisforum.com/showpost.php?p=19714955&postcount=39
http://www.tennisforum.com/showpost.php?p=19718996&postcount=41

Other threads devoted to Maureen Connolly Brinker:
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=126280
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=391953

Those posts are inaccurate in a number of respects. See this article: http://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/v54-2/pdf/v54-2seymour.pdf

austinrunner
Dec 11th, 2011, 04:08 PM
The piece of fluff you've quoted extensively is essentially unsourced in many important respects and, worse, is inaccurate per many published reports that I've already cited. That's the problem with hero-worshipping articles like the one you found.

newmark401
Dec 12th, 2011, 12:33 PM
Re: Maureen Connolly vs Susan Partridge

From the London "Times", 28 June, 1952

"Dramatic Day at Wimbledon

"Narrow Win for Miss Connolly

"From our lawn tennis correspondent

"At last drama came to Wimbledon yesterday. After a quiet opening it happened suddenly and swiftly in the second set of the second match at the same time on the centre court and court No. 1. In each a champion, after taking a first set almost as a matter of course, was faced with ever-increasing opposition as formidable as it was surprising. Furthermore, it was extreme youth that played a leading role in each act.

"Yet after that the comparison parts way, for on court No. 1 Miss Susan Partridge, forgetting all past failures, resisted the commanding stroke play of Miss Maureen Connolly by the natural game player's instinct in reducing the speed of the attack by consistently hitting...

"... the score by which Miss Connolly took her rightful place in the second stage next week - 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, it was - eagerly reflects the excitement and tension of packed stands until calmness in a crisis and perfection of method finally came into its own. Miss Connolly served a double fault to give Miss Partridge the first game, but quickly atoned by winning the next three. The fifth went to Miss Partridge who, when leading 40-0 at 2-3, served two double faults; she won the game, but her opponent's volleying now seemed too much for her and it was her last success in the set.

"Then suddenly the pattern of the match changed. The first set had been good, if one-sided; the second and third were neck-and-nice struggles, with play of the highest class all through. Against her accomplished opponent Miss Partridge not only assembled the fine array of shots she was known to possess but also extremely acute perception. Relcuant to approach the net herself, perhaps due to her weakness overhead, she realized that Miss Connolly must at all costs be kept at the back of the court, and what is more she put this plan into effect. From 2-0 she fought back to 2-all, and although she lost her service she then took Miss Connolly's service to love for 3-all.

"Excitement and Tragedy

"It was at this point that the match began to be really exciting. Miss Partridge took the lead at 4-3 and then - tragedy. At 4-all she served two successive double faults to be 0-30 down and lost the game. Miss Connolly now had her service for the match but, as before, Miss Partridge's deep driving forced her into errors. It was 5-all, then 6-5, advantage to Miss Partridge, set point, when a magnificent low backhand down the sideline off a shot it seemed unlikely she would even reach utterly passed Miss Connolly to give Miss Partridge the set at 7-5.

"Miss Connolly was leading 3-1 in the final set, but again those double faults crept in and she was 4-5 down. The next game ended with a magnificent rally in which, although Miss Connolly played three splendid shots, Miss Partridge played four equally good to make it 5-all. Now, however, the true difference between the two appeared; although Miss Partridge for quite long periods could bring up to Miss Connolly's, the latter had in the extreme crisis just that little extra. And it was that little extra that won her the next two games for the match."
-----

Rollo
Dec 12th, 2011, 03:16 PM
I have a copy of Forehand Drive and can provide exact quotes and pages later on if needed, but a few points from Mo's book....

She writes that she had every intention of returning in 1955. Her plan was to play Wimbledon and Forest Hills once more and then retire to turn pro.

As Mark wrote she states in FD that she realized when hitting with Les Stofen that she would never be the same player again. While the shots were there the movement wasn't.

AR's notice about ballet is confirmed in FD.

Do we have an exact date for when her lawsuit was settled?

Whatever the exact details of her injury entailed at least one former opponent thought she retired when she could have played on. On more than one occasion Doris Hart expressed the same sort of doubts Austinrunner did.

Rollo
Dec 12th, 2011, 03:59 PM
Posted by laschutz

kind of off topic, but in regards' to maureen's game.. after watching videos of her playing she seems to be how should i say very much a uptempo, almost robotic in her play... not stiff and mechanical like tracy austin, but all that "jumping up and down on her toes" on every stroke and every point,this constant moving,.. hitting the ball the same way.. very rhythmic to her play, which on the downside i could totally see how she could have trouble with a player who just "pushed the ball" was a "hacker" and a "slowballer" which i sense is the term they used back then which we would now call a "moonballer" ala andrea jaeger...

In general I'd agree. and while a lot of people knock "mechanical" it suggests consistency, which is what wins matches.

it would seem that a andrea jaeger type moonballer would give connolly fits and alot of trouble.. being that during little mo's grand slam year, susan partridge gave her the most trouble winning the only set and the year previously coming very close to defeating connolly at the 52 wimbledon, employing her "no pace, slow balling" tactics.. although i wonder if partridge was a hacker who just got the ball back down the middle or did she actually employ big ole high moonballs to maureen too?


Sue Partridge was no hacker. I'd say Sue was never better than a slam quarterfinalist, a sort of mini Shirley Fry, who was about two steps above her. Shirley was the player of Mo's nightmares, someone who could rally all day and attack on occasion.

In Forehand Drive Maureen gives a description of the Patridge match that makes it clear the Partridge was moonballing down the middle of the court. Maurren had injutred her should and felt shots of pain go through her in reaching over her head.

The staid nature of the Times may have prevented the reporter from quoting the American Sailor who mo credited with turning the match around. At 4-5 15-30 she served a fault. Connolly felt she was about to give it to despair. Throughout the match the British had been hostile, even cheering her errors on some points. As she got ready to hit the second serve the Yank yelled out, "Give em hell Mo!". Maureen survived the crisis and was never again that close to losing in a slam.


it seems all the top players hart, fry, brough, etcetera that was the tactic they all used meaning not giving maureen any pace, using as much variety and spins and what not as possible... and what not, but i wonder if any of these players actually used andrea jaeger moonball shots throughout the match to defeat and give maureen trouble?


One tactic to use against a power player is to hit it deep down the middle. Depth is important, becasue without it the lesser player is soon on a yo-yo string. From time to time Brough used this tactic. Shirley Fry did so as well. Overall though I think it was less used in the 50's by the top women than the 70s or 80s, perhaps due to the most of these women being attacking players who built their games around grass.

From what I can tell their tactic was more Lenglen-like. Hit short angles to draw Mo to the net or out of position. Hart in particular could do this, as she possessed the best drop shot of the era.

And all this was to little avail if Connolly went a royal tear, as she often could. No other player until Graf liked to hit her way out of trouble so often.


like i said connolly reminds me alot like tracy austin.. not as mechanical and stiff and without any variety and not a great tactical mind like austin, but similar is that like austin she seems very almost 1 dimensional, very "rhythm" and could alot of times whether successfully enough throughout a match to defeat her, be thrown off her game big time by a player who didn't give them her ( connolly,austin) her pace and constant tempo/rhythm? and like austin, no plan b to fall back on and like austin the type of player who would get impatient and flustered on the court playing someone like a king or goolagong who used their variety and wily tactics on austin to defeat her....

All true to a certain extent laschutz, but there are important qualifiers here.

First of all if someone wins and wins how important is it to be multifaceted? In Forehand Drive Mo moaned about having "no net game to speak of" (I'm paraphrasing) to Helen Wills. Helen told her it didn't matter, as "you are the first person since myself to have decent groundstrokes".

In other words a focused "mechanical" game that wins---wins. Monica Seles won loads of slams with the worst net game of any top tenner. And Tracy austin with no serve. And Helen with poor movement.

I question too just how tactically "poor" the likes of Connolly or Austin really were. The nature of a baseliner's game means a lot of subtle differences in tactics don't register to our eyes. A "wily" Goolagong or King handled Chris Evert on grass as well as Tracy, yet Evert is often presented here as a tactical genius while Tracy is given short shrift. Listen to Ann Jones comment on the 1980 Wimbledon semi and you might get a new appreciation for Austin.

A lot of the difference may come down to what surface a player was exposed to when young. Hard courters like Wills, Connolly, and Austin were all known for their power. Hart and Evert, both Floridians, were famous for their drop shots. I wonder how well those drop shots would have developed had Doris and Chris grow up on the West Coast.

laschutz
Dec 12th, 2011, 05:15 PM
hi everyone! thanks rollo for your long and thoughtful detailed post/reply...

i think the reason why for instance evert playing on grass against goolagong and king vs austin playing on grass vs goolagong and king and the perception of people that evert was a "mental and tactical genius" and austin " um, not so much" was due to a couple of things...

the stiffness and mechanical 1 dimensional of austin strokes, as well all know evert was vastly had more variety, a better serve/volley/overhead/midcourt game than austin and that was even before the mid 80's graphite era...

so to the eye when king and goolagong gave fits to austin it was because their games and variety and tactics looked how should i say overwhelmingly obvious and exposed austin's limitations...

when goolagong and king would beat or give evert fits on grass it wasn's so obvious.. just a great serve and volleyer on this particular day beating a baseliner.. the serve and volleyer just playing their style of game better that day then the baseliner's style of play..

in regards to austin.. she visually comes of way worse when she would lose to a goolagong or a king or some other player like that.. her stroke production, lack of variety,mechanical hard hitting, even her constant jumpy nervous twitching blowing on her fingers, wiping her brow with her wristband ( even if the match was only 1 point old!)between points.. all give the conclusion that she was a robot without a clue as to change the outcome of she was losing to a player like a goolagong or king on grass not only in tactics but in for example "slowing the pace between points, playing to her rhythm,etcetera".. she was like a energizer bunny mistakenly thinking doing all her mannerisms was being "pumped up and eager" when in fact, i think it hurt her big time, in that she actually came across and played sometimes " too over the top "wound up"and not coming to terms with what was actually happening on the court".. if that make sense?...

evert's calm and cool and calculated expression and deportment on the court never gives anyone the impression of being flustered and bewildered and dumbfounded when she was lost or had a tough time with a goolagong or king on grass...

i think another reason why austin gets a bad rap against a king or goolagong on grass more than evert especially when you consider austin played king and goolagong when she was 16 and 17 and 19 years old! is that supposedly austin was SUPPOSED TO BE BETTER THAN EVERT AT THAT AGE! she certainly hit harder than chrissie at that respective age 16 to 19.. so when a teenage (already champion) austin would lose to a past their prime goolagong and king on grass and also the way she looked playing against them that is another reason austin came off worse than chrissie on grass.. so add in the maturity and personality of evert on court, her more variety than austin, that she could and did use variety whether in strokes production ( spins, etc) or tactics more than austin could and the other aspects i mentioned and there you have it in regards to evert and austin...

you made a good point in that in the 1950's connolly's top foes were mostly serve and volleyers (except all court hart) and the fact that 3 of the 4 big grand slams were on grass, so perhaps they had a disadvantage on using these tactics consistently against connolly based on their natural game and instincts as well as the surface of the time..

lenglen used the tactics you mentioned against wills on clay in their only meeting.. i think the reason why this tactic didn't work and wouldn't work as much on connolly because she ran like the wind around the court and unlike wills, and seles later, while connolly never had a great volley, she was so quick she could put the ball away without having to.. seles did that as well, she didn't need a great volley, because if the drop shot wasn't perfect, while seles wasn't super quick, if she to the ball in time, she put it away for a clean winner...

so the slowballing tactic worked the best on connolly it seems and your right when she was "on a tear" she could not be stopped, just think of her dismantling of fry during her 53 grand slam campaign...

i think if maureen had continue to play past 1955, into let's say the late 50's before settling down, getting married and wanting to have kids, i think her first real test would have been against a young bueno.. i think bueno would have given maureen more trouble than gibson, yes, even the improved a bit 57, 58 wimby and u.s. open champion gibson.. gibson was 1 dimensional, great serve/volley/overhead, but no groundstrokes at all, and not a tactician,, maureen handled gibson easily before gibson reached her peak, but obviously as gibson improved so would maureen have done so if maureen had played into 57 and 58... bueno with her unpredictability and variety similar to a mandlikova i think would have troubled maureen more.. but even then not so much, maureen would have been "too solid" for bueno, pinned her to the baseline and with her mythical determination and experience mentally k.o. bueno as well on court...seemingly from 55 until when? maureen would have won title and grand slam titles year after year, after bueno and gibson, then what? the young and inexperienced margaret smith the newest rival?

i wonder why maureen's injury was so severe that she had to retire? i mean was it due to the severity or the treatment of it that she never recovered? what if she or a top player had the same injury today in 2011? you would think a top athlete like connolly even back then would have the fitness/muscle strength/endurance more than the average person to have overcome this?

also, if maureen did play to retire in 1955.. i guess winning the most grand slam titles and what not wasn't that important to her? perhaps towards the end of her short career, the "hating of her opponent" had left her as well as her will and utter desire to win, win, win... maybe the 1951 maureen would have burned to win titles for 10 years?! of course this was before norman brinker entered the picture...and then, the desire to be a mother..

Rollo
Dec 12th, 2011, 07:51 PM
i wonder why maureen's injury was so severe that she had to retire? i mean was it due to the severity or the treatment of it that she never recovered? what if she or a top player had the same injury today in 2011? you would think a top athlete like connolly even back then would have the fitness/muscle strength/endurance more than the average person to have overcome this?

It was a pretty bad accident from what I gather. It basically severed some leg muscles.

also, if maureen did play to retire in 1955.. i guess winning the most grand slam titles and what not wasn't that important to her? perhaps towards the end of her short career, the "hating of her opponent" had left her as well as her will and utter desire to win, win, win... maybe the 1951 maureen would have burned to win titles for 10 years?! of course this was before norman brinker entered the picture...and then, the desire to be a mother..

Good questions. She apparently had the capacity to focus all on her various roles. As for titles-I've always sensed that at that level she knew how good she was. And yes, with marriage and motherhood around the corner the money/pro angle may well have factored into things.

To me one the other big tennis "ifs" besides Seles was Connolly. What if she stayed healthy and turned pro? Would it have nudged tennis into the open era ten years sooner?



the stiffness and mechanical 1 dimensional of austin strokes, as well all know evert was vastly had more variety, a better serve/volley/overhead/midcourt game than austin and that was even before the mid 80's graphite era...


"Vastly more variety?" Me thinks not. Evert had a better drop shot. And a better serve. Austin had a lob just as deadly as Chris. As for the overhead and volleys, many credible tennis experts gave the nod to Austin in those departments, not Chris.

While I wouldn't call Tracy miss variety, I vividly recall her trying serve and volley vs Wade in the 1981 Wightman Cup. And she surprised the hell out of Martina Navratilova tactically in the US Open final in 1981.

The graphite era made Evert's game look a lot different than the wood era. Unfortunately for Tracy injuries meant she never really made to that point. You judge her a bit harshly IMO.

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one :) (or take it to another thread-LOL)

laschutz
Dec 12th, 2011, 08:12 PM
hi again rollo (and anyone else who cares to reply to this topic thread!)thanks for your replies.. would love for you to expound on my thoughts in regard to evert vs king and goolagong on grass and the comparison i made with her in relation to austin vs king and goolagong on grass.

i have the evert vs king 1982 semi wimbledon match on dvd as well as the austin vs king 1982 quarterfinal wimbledon match on dvd..

1) evert played awful i must say. i mean she could have lost the match
7-6, 6-2 in straight sets! if she (evert) had not managed to win that first set tiebreaker and consequently win the match 7-6,2-6,6-3.. yeah, billie jean played great and was a handful even at 38.. but for chris to struggle this badly and like i said almost lose and possibly to have lost in straight sets to king in 1982 when evert was number 1 for chrissakes is bad, bad,bad...on a scale of 1 to 10 i think evert played about a 5 maybe a 6 towards the end.. regardless how much king's tactics (which evert had been used to for over a decade was the reason.. throughout the match evert weak serving,(even when she got her first serve it, it was short and without much bite), constantly hitting the ball short, making tactical mistakes, you name it....perhaps the fact that they had not played in 3 years (evert def king 6-1,6-0 at the 79 u.s. open semi) and evert had been winning easily against billie jean threw evert off? as well as....

this match did occur in the first half of 1982 when evert was playing very poorly, including just coming off a lackluster awful semi loss to jaeger at the 82 french 2 weeks before where she lost 3 and 1!

the later half of 1982 evert played great winning the u.s. and the australian open where she crushed king 2 and 2..

2) the austin loss to king in the quarterfinals of the 1982 wimbledon? just sad! i felt sorry for austin, it's hard for me to watch, she wasn't the same player like she was in 1981 or 1980, and billie jean played inspired and really DID show how to beat austin on grass. when i watch this match i actually not only feel sorry for austin losing, but the way she lost and kind of upset and a bit mad at king for doing this to young tracy, obviously she (king) had to know austin wasn't the same player, but i guess a win is a win in her mind? on a hard court or any other surface even a subpar 82 austin would have taken king apart i think...

just something about the manner in which king played and acted when she played tracy in this match gets me perturbed with king...

anyway, sorry i'm digressing from connolly and the topic thread. sorry, i enjoy these long comments from you rollo and others.. i love to expound on my tennis knowledge and tennis history.. i like to think i know alot!? LOL!

laschutz
Dec 12th, 2011, 08:33 PM
hey rollo sorry i missed you ending comments in your previous post in regard to variety between evert and austin.. so now i have the just posted comment and this comment for you to peruse and post your thoughts on...

perhaps the word "vastly' wasn't appropriate... but surely evert even before her mid 1980's pre-graphite, stronger, more athletic evert had more variety than austin...

evert did have the better serve, not only in it's delivery, but the whole mechanics of it. volley wise, i think at this time,(1979-1982) they were perhaps equal, although i think evert had the better touch around the net,austin for the great majority of the time punched her volleys and that's it.

OVERHEADS? .. no contest evert had a waaaaaay better overhead than austin, she rarely if ever missed from anywhere on the court, austin hitting a overhead as i've read in tennis magazines from that period in the writer's words "always looked like an adventure"..like her serve, austin lacked good mechanics on the overhead, although i will say it wasn't as bad as her serve and the "movement of a overhead" and not standing motionless on her serve, helped her overhead just a tiny tiny bit...

evert hit untold number of overhead winners (without missing one) in her famous win over austin at the 80 u.s. open semi, in fact,seeing untold number of evert matches i can count on one hand, the number of overheads that evert ever missed...i've never heard or read any tennis "experts" saying or writing anything remotely positive about austin's overhead...

sure, austin used her "sneak tactics" hitting to martina's forehead suddenly in their 1981 u.s. open semi and she also did the serve and volley at MATCHPOINT no less in her very first win against martina in a 3rd set tiebreaker in 1978 that stunned martina.. but by a large austin DID NOT use variety in tactics...and by variety i also meant in stroke production, which evert had more than austin..

evert used sidespin and topspin on her forehand, likewise with her two handed backhand, evert also employed a bit of slice on her serve especially the second serve from time to time ( all before she added topspin and kick to her serve after the switch to graphite)...evert employed drop shots, moonballs and off speed shots as well... austin only did this usually as a RESPONSE TO someone doing this to her, never as the first inclination and first tactic...

i think austin's one true "variety in tactics" was her use of rolling her two handed backhand into very short angles that drew the player off the court, she used this alot... austin was also very good at being able to change the direction of the ball especially her forehand, able to nail hard forehands down the line off a crosscourt shot... but by an large austin seemingly was the very flat hard hitting ball machine compared to evert's more thoughtful and deeper use of the court counterpuncher...austin tried to steamroll and outhit opponents, evert used more tactics, variety and mental powers in her groundstroke game...

Rollo
Dec 12th, 2011, 10:55 PM
Hi Laschutz-if you can repost your last two posts in the Austin-Evert thread I'll join you there. After that I will edit our posts here to fit more with a thread on Connolly's 1953 slam year

Thanks:)

Rollo
Dec 13th, 2011, 03:27 PM
Connolly's retelling of the Patridge match from Forehand Drive. She takes up the story on page 4.


"Now comes the sledge-hammer series of events. I had broken with my coach, Eleanor (Teach) Tenant, who made me a champion...Our quarrel was bitter, leaving scars which never healed. I was attacked in the London Press, hounded night and day by journalists and photographers-a target for hostile headlines. I was going through a series of fibrositus-a congested shoulder condition. A section of both Press and players believed the fibrositus was fictional, an excuse conceived in advance to cushion defeat. I had won both of my Wightman Cup matches, but neither victory....had been impressive. I was on the verge of an emotional collapse."

"I had manged to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon. I got there on a path paved ny my opponents' errors, certainly not by my dazzlig tennis. Across the court stood Susan Patridge, a beauiful English girl, a fine player. I hated her. It was a cold, controlled hatred, part of my strategy. The fear of losing-always handmaiden to my hate-was lacking. Eleanor Tennant believed I sohuld win-love and love. I had met Susan the year before at East Hasmpton, New York, and beaten her, 8-6 8-6. The scores had been close, I tohugh, only becasue I had been having an off day. Never have I been so wrong, never have I underestimated a girl so much."

"Tension mounts steadily at Wimbledon and on this hot, humid afternoon, with the temperature in the high nineties, the crowd worked towards a crescendo of partisanship. Even though I though I would beat Susan, I was nervous, I knew my game was not at a peak. She however, in that first set, was more nervous than I. (page 5) The pressure was on her and the first set was shot with errors. Susan made numerous double faults and errors off the ground. Only this, and the fact that she was hitting the hard kind of ball I like, gave me the first set, 6-3".

Rollo
Dec 13th, 2011, 03:35 PM
"In the second set Susan suddenly switched strategy. She soft-balled me from the very start and I returned one high lob after another. With this overhead action, the needle pains from the fibrositis jabbed my shoulder cruelly. Susan was superb. A beautiful retriever, she ran down my best and hardest placements, amking a series of impossible returns. My confidence cracked. Hate and rising fear were not enough. I started serving double faults. The crowd cheered each one. This was an even more searing pain than the fibrositis. In america the crowd cheered for me, but here there seemed only hostility. ....Of course, I could understand why the crowd wanted Susan to win, why she deserved to be the heroine. But I could not cast myself as the villain."

"I lost the second set, 7-5. The score deos not reflect the mastery Susan held. As we changed courts, she was in complete command, walking easily and gracefully to the umpire's chair. ...I stopped, crouched on my haunches, my head bowed on my racket, trying to capture a moment's rest. The contrast between us was striking. I was spiritualy bankrupt, physically exhausted, so weary I wondered how long I could go on".

Rollo
Dec 13th, 2011, 03:57 PM
"Just as we started the third set, Susan looked across the court, her eyes meeting mine, locking for a moment, and I can remeber even now that flash of confidence. After she won her service, I felt as if I were on the way out, defeat certain, discredited, unpopular, measured and found wanting on this the biggest tennis battlefield of all."

(page 6)

"When we changed courts, I walked by the players section...Eleanor Tennat would be there! She had to be! No matter what out quarrels had been, she would not leave me to face this crisis alone....But as my eyes ranged the rows of faces, I knew my well-spring and inspiration was gone. I saw only my mother, and she smiled, shook her head slightly, reading my mind."

"Now I was utterly alone, afraid, with a rising fear.; for the first time in my life I felt hopelessy adrift."

"As we played, the crowd tripled, fervour mounted, the kill was close. The set became 4-5 in Susan's favour, the game score 15-30. She was within two points of winning the match. I served a fault. If I double faulted she would have match point. For the first and only time in my career, I almost became ill with a nausea which threatened to choke me. I manged, somehow, to get my serve in, but more remarkable still, I won the point, bringing the score to 30-30. A low maon rose from the gallery. The crowd had eagerly anticipated susan's getting match point. But now I was too tired to care, too scarrred from the emotional lashed to feel one more sting."

"The corwd leaned forward, the moment was tense, there was a hush, when suddenly, piercing the silence, a younf voice rang out clear an dbold, 'Give em hell, Mo!' I stood stunned, paused, and looked and saw a US Air Force boy. His face was a flash of youth, shining and glowing with friendliness. I did not know him. I have never meet him. But truly, in that second I was lifted to heights by a stranger. I smiled and said 'Thank you' in a fervent whisper."

"Truth can be stranger than fiction. If it seems incredible to believe one ringing cry of encouragement can turn the tide of a hopeless match, I can only say-it happened."

"Confidence surged through me, a new vitality lifted me. Savage determination powered me. I looked across the court at Susan and knew I would win. I knew it with a conviction impossible to explain. I was a clutch player, more dangerous when I was behind. I told myself this. Susan was the enemy. She blocked my way. I hated her. I would move in for the kill. The pains fibrositis were nothing. ...I took the game, the set, 7-5, and the match."

...

"How can one write and hope the reader may believe that winning the finals at Wimbledon...can be anti-climatic? I twas for me. I had crossed the Rubicon. For the first time in my career I knew I could win without Eleanor Tennant. "

....

"..for me my first Wimbledon was Susan Partridge, and the voice of a stranger remains the most dramatic incident in a career crowded with thrilling matches and impossible victories."

austinrunner
Dec 16th, 2011, 08:52 AM
Do we have an exact date for when her lawsuit was settled?
16 January 1958

Calvin M.
Dec 17th, 2011, 12:08 AM
Great exchange Rollo and Laschutz! This is precisely why BFTP is my favorite forum.