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Rollo Mar 10th, 2009 01:31 PM

"Rabitt"-The Wendy Turnbull Thread
Australia (Queensland)
Born 26 November 1952 - Brisbane, Queensland
Never married.
Height: 1.64 m (5 ft 5 in)
Nickname: "The Rabbitt"-bestowed by Ion Tiriac in 1975 when she was playing World Team Tennis.
Started tennis at about age 7.
[Active 1968-1990. Turned pro in 1975]

Nicknamed "Rabbit" as she was blessed with good speed on court and retrieved many balls. Very heady and clever, her all court game brought her numerous doubles titles,including 4 majors in doubles and 5 in mixed doubles. Not having a major weapon probably prevented her from scaling the ladder and winning a major in singles. All 3 times she reached a slam final in the Aussie failed to grab a set.

"I know nuns with better social lives than me."-Turnbull in 1979, on the demands of tour life.
Coached by her father Don Turnbull and Daphne Seeney Fancutt, Wendy made her first trip to Europe in 1972. In between tennis stints she worked as a bank teller to save money to tour. Gradually getting better, she was a solid if unspectacular journey woman until 1977. Her magical run at the US Open that year was remarkable. Turnbull dispensed of Rosie Casals, Virginia Wade (who had won Wimbledon earlier that summer) and then Martina Navratilova in a thrilling 3 set semifinal. Chris Evert was a bridge too far on clay, but the 7-6 6-2 was respectable.

From that point forward Turnbull lodged herself solidly in the world top ten for the rest of the 1970s through 1984. She was also in the top 20 for ten consecutive years (1977-1986).

Another highlight was reaching all 3 finals at the 1979 French Open. The Rabbitt won both doubles, but once again fell to Evert in final. Foolishly staying back and trying to rally, she was crushed 6-2 6-0.

The last chance for a singles slam came in the final at the 1980 Australian. Turnbull upset the #1 seed Navratilova in semis. Nerves and the fine play of Hana Mandlikova overcame her in the final to the tune of 6-0 7-5. Just two weeks earlier Turnbull saved 8 match points in taking the New South Wales title at Sydney.

A final golden moment came in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Playing doubles with Liz Smylie, they won the bronze medal. "When we realized we had at least won the bronze we were jumping up and down".

Her nickname brought her some financial gain, as Turnbull endorsed the Volkswagon Rabbit.


Australian Open

Singles Finalist 1980, Semifinalist in 1981 and 1984. Quarterfinals in 1982 and 1983.
Doubles Finalist 1983, 1988

French Open

Singles Finalist 1979, Quarterfinalist 1980.
Doubles Winner 1979, Finalist 1982
Mixed Doubles Winner 1979, 1982

Wimbledon (competed every year from 1972 to 1990-19 consecutive years)

Singles: Quarterfinalist 3 consecutive years (1979, 1980, and 1981)
Doubles: Winner 1978 Doubles Finalist 1979, 1980,1983,1986
Mixed Doubles Winner 1983, 1984

US Open

Singles Finalist 1977, Semifinalist in 1978 and 1984; Quarterfinals 1986.
Doubles Winner 1979, 1982 Doubles Finalist 1978, 1981, 1984, 1986
Mixed Doubles Winner 1980

Career Record


Match record: 478 won-250 lost .658 %(from the WTA-the true number is surely higher.)

Career high at #3 (07 January 1985)

21 titles:

1971: Northern Rivers Championships (Lismore NSW), City of Brisbane Championships
1972: Wynnum QLd Championships, Norwich GBR, South Coast Championships (Southport QLD), Queensland HC (Recliffe)
1973: Surbiton GBR, Merseyside GBR, South Queensland Championships (Ipswich)
1976: QBE AWTA Championships (Rockdale Sydney), Austrian Open (Kitzbuhel), Japan Open, West Australian Open
1979: Detroit VS, Philadelphia VS
1980: Hong Kong Seiko Classic, NSW Open
1981: Hong Kong Seiko Classic
1982: Queensland National Panasonic (Brisbane), Richmond VA
1983: Boston VS


Match record: 653–225 (from the WTA-surely higher)
55 titles
5 mixed titles

Record by Year
(Statistics given from 1977-when they are reliable to 1987, her last full year in singles)

1977-world rank #9----29-17 .650% (RU US Open)
1978-world rank #7----48-23 .676% (SF US Open)
1979-world rank #7----61-25 .709% (RU French. Won Detroit and Philadelphia on Avon circuit. Won 14 doubles titles.)
1980-world rank #8----72-24 .750% (RU Australian. Won NSW and Hong Kong)
1981-world rank #8----46-23 .667% (SF Australian)
1982-world rank #5----46-19 .709% (Won Queensland and Richmond)
1983-world rank #8----46-18 .719% (Won Boston)
1984-world rank #5----37-17 .685% (SF at US open and Australian Open)
1985-world rank #14---40-18 .690% (Career high #3 in January, but slips out of world top 10 at age 32 by year's end)
1986-world rank #18---17-17 .500% (upsets doubles partner and defending champ Mandlikova at US Open.)
1987-world rank #23---20-16 .556%
1988-world rank #136--5-14 .263% (singles career winds down, Olympics bronze in doubles and RU Aussie doubles with Evert)
1989-world rank-#264--2-4 .333 %
1990-doubles only. Retires.

At Wimbledon in 1979


"Rabbitt: The Wendy Turnbull thread"

Her website:

Concise Dictionary of Tennis, by Martin Hedges, p 235.

"Weby Turnbull: The Great Survivor". by Craig Gabriel. Tennis Australia, July, 1986, pages 12-15.

Rollo Mar 10th, 2009 01:32 PM

Re: "Rabitt"-The Wendy Turnbull Thread
A profile from the Australian Open. This year Turnbull was inducted into the Aussie Tennis Hall of Fame.

Wendy Turnbull: Australian Tennis Hall of Fame 2009

Nick-named ‘Rabbit’ for her lightning-quick footwork, Wendy Turnbull tore up the world’s tennis courts during a career that spanned 14 years, pausing just long enough to capture 13 singles titles, 55 women’s doubles titles and five mixed doubles titles.

Born on 26 November 1952, Turnbull learned to play tennis at the age of five and, inspired by watching the stars of the pre-professional era play local country tournaments, contested her first junior event aged 10.

In an era when sponsorship was difficult, if not impossible, for female players to come by, Turnbull left school at 15 to work in the Commonwealth Bank, using her earnings to finance her fledgling competitive career.

Turnbull turned professional in 1975 – a golden era for the women’s game – and was a contemporary of Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King and Rosie Casals. She won her first doubles title in 1975, partnering Evonne Goolagong Cawley in Auckland. And, with slightly more than one professional year on the clock, won her first singles titles in Kitzbuhel and Tokyo.

She reached a Grand Slam singles final for the first time at the US Open in 1977, and again in 1979, conceding the title to Chris Evert on both occasions. Her only other singles final at a major came at Australian Open 1980, where she lost to Hana Mandlikova, also in straight sets.

While Grand Slam doubles finals proved fruitful for Turnbull, a home Grand Slam title eluded her throughout her career, two further near-misses occurring in the finals of the 1983 and 1988 Australian Open doubles events, partnering Anne Hobbs and Chris Evert respectively.

The Brisbane-born star did, however, win four Grand Slam women’s doubles titles and five Grand Slam mixed doubles titles during her career. Three of these were clinched with John Lloyd, with whom she had a particularly productive partnership.

Turnbull was runner-up in Grand Slam doubles finals a further 15 times, and it’s noteworthy that of the 11 women’s doubles finals in this number, nine of the losses were to teams that included the dominant Martina Navratilova.

Famed for her twinkle-toed court coverage, Turnbull was also quick-tongued with a reputation for conducting entertaining post-match press conferences. In 1977, tiring of Virginia Wade’s claims that she shouldn’t lose to a player of Turnbull’s calibre, she retorted: “Virginia doesn’t think anybody should beat her – including God.”

With consistency her hallmark, Turnbull held a top 10 ranking for eight consecutive years between 1977 and 1984, and was a Fed Cup team stalwart, holding Australian records for the most ties played (45), most doubles rubber wins (29), most rubber wins in total (46) and most successful doubles partnership, boasting an 11-4 win-loss record with Kerry Reid.

Recognition followed records and in 1984 Queen Elizabeth made her a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. In 1988 Turnbull capped off her career by winning an Olympic bronze medal for women’s doubles in partnership with Liz Smylie. She was particularly amused by this achievement saying, “I'm very good friends with Chris Evert and Chrissie's never won an Olympic medal so sometimes she'll say: 'Rabbit's got something that I haven't got'.”

In 1999 Turnbull retired from professional tennis, her tongue firmly in her cheek when she explained, “I just got sick of looking at these 18 year olds across the net.”

Today a keen golfer, she splits her time between Sandgate in Brisbane and Boca Raton in Florida, playing occasional masters and veterans’ tennis events.

Wendy Turnbull achievements:
• Runner-up in three Grand Slam singles finals:
1997 – US Open (l Chris Evert )
1979 – French Open (l Evert)
1980 - Australian Open (l Hana Mandlikova)
• Won four Grand Slam women’s doubles titles:
1978 - Wimbledon (w/Kerry Melville Reid)
1979 - French Open (w/Betty Stove)
1979 - US Open (w/Stove)
1982 - US Open (w/Rosie Casals)
• Won five Grand Slam mixed doubles titles:
1979 – French Open (w/Bob Hewitt)
1980 - US Open (w/Marty Riessen)
1982 – French Open (w/John Lloyd)
1983 - Wimbledon (w/Lloyd)
1984 – Wimbledon (w/Lloyd)

• Amassed 13 singles titles, 55 doubles titles and five mixed doubles titles.
• Won 478 tour-level singles matches and 653 doubles matches during her 14-year career as a professional player.
• Represented Australia in five Fed Cup finals:
1984 (l Czechoslovakia)
1980 (l USA)
1979 (l USA)
1978 (l USA)
1977 (l USA)
• Captained or coached Australia’s Fed Cup team between 1985 and 1993.
• 1988 Seoul Olympics women’s doubles bronze medallist (w/Liz Smylie).
• Honoured by the City of Brisbane in 1993 with a public park named after her.

AndrewTas Mar 10th, 2009 10:02 PM

Re: "Rabitt"-The Wendy Turnbull Thread
Looking at her records Turnbull started playing in the senior tournaments in 1968 and reached her first singles final in 1970 (South Queensland Champs). I have 8 more tournament wins for her, mainly Australian tournaments.

Turnbull Singles Titles

Northern Rivers Championships (Lismore NSW), City of Brisbane Championships

Wynnum QLd Championships, Norwich GBR, South Coast Championships (Southport QLD), Queensland HC (Recliffe)

Surbiton GBR, Merseyside GBR, South Queensland Championships (Ipswich)

QBE AWTA Championships (Rockdale Sydney), Austrian Open (Kitzbuhel), Japan Open, West Australian Open

Detroit VS, Philadelphia VS

Hong Kong Seiko Classic, NSW Open

Hong Kong Seiko Classic

Queensland National Panasonic (Brisbane), Richmond VA

Boston VS

Runner-ups (24)

Rollo Mar 10th, 2009 11:02 PM

Re: "Rabitt"-The Wendy Turnbull Thread
Andrew Tas-going from what you're telling us it's also a safe bet Wenders earned more than 500 match wins-yes?

Jem Mar 11th, 2009 01:19 AM

Re: "Rabitt"-The Wendy Turnbull Thread
I thought Turnbull was fun to watch. What a magical run she had at the U.S. Open in 1977 -- seemingly out of nowhere. And then going on to build on that success and fashion a stellar career. The 1977 Open final with Evert was an excellent match. It's too bad she never managed to win a grand slam title -- she probably could have won Australia against Mandlikova, but I don't think she really believed. The same as Tauziat with Novotna in their Wimbledon final. I remember Turnbull endorsing the Volkswagon Rabbit. Pretty cool at the time.

timhoo Mar 11th, 2009 03:14 AM

Re: "Rabitt"-The Wendy Turnbull Thread
I remember being a spectator at the 1973 Merseyside tournament at the Vagabonds Tennis Club. Wendy beat Susan Minford in that final. Her brother, Harry, also played in the tournament, losing in a first round upset to Canadian Guy Tytherleigh. John Clifton ended up taking the men's final, with a win over Mark Farrell. Many thanks for the trip down memory lane...

AllezRichie Mar 11th, 2009 12:34 PM

Re: "Rabitt"-The Wendy Turnbull Thread
So glad to see Wendy "Rabbit" Turnbell has her own thread for us Trip down memory lane fans

Such a great person for the game here in Australia,

Does anyone recall Rabbit Turnbell win in Sydney over Pam Shriver 1980 NSW Open, think Rabbit saved around 8 match points against Shriver,

Wendy was working with channel 7 as a commentator when she retired but this was short lived, such a shame!

With the new Tennis Complex opening in Brisbane this year, IMHO..... I think TA or whoever was involved in making the decision on the naming of the stadium court made such a mistake of not naming the stadium in Wendy's Honour, the likes of Wendy were the reason the likes of Rafter took to playing tennis in the first place, & her career record stacks up pretty impressive against Rafter's

Philbo Mar 11th, 2009 05:15 PM

Re: "Rabitt"-The Wendy Turnbull Thread
I love Wendy. A true 'lil aussie battler'.

Two years ago, me and a couple of friends were at Wimbledon and we came across a back court where good old Rab's was playing Champions Ladies Doubles with Helena Sukova. I can confirm that these days, Wendy is very near as wide as she is tall. She was never that tall lol.

She looked like a tank. So me and my mates all sat courside and started cheering our asses off for wendy. One of my friends is fairly camp but he is from sydney's western suburbs.. I still crack up when I think about my friend crying out 'CAAARRN WENDY' time and time again - 'CAAARRN' - 'Come on Wendy' with a thick aussie drawl.

Wendy loved our support and gave us about 3 smiles when we were being a bit overzealous in our appreciation.

Philbo Mar 11th, 2009 05:16 PM

Re: "Rabitt"-The Wendy Turnbull Thread
The only memory I have of Wendy from her days on tour is actually the speech she gave after her last tour match. I believe Gretchen Majors in her last everbeat her 2 and 2 or something in her last ever match. Funny the things u remember.

AllezRichie Mar 11th, 2009 07:34 PM

Re: "Rabitt"-The Wendy Turnbull Thread
Wendy sure was a lil aussie battler,

Never was the type of player who was going to wipe you of the court, a late starter to the tour, not bad for a Bank Teller from Brisbane

Wendy will go down as getting the most out of her ability & such a joy to watch over the years

One of her great things that kept her in the game was her speed & anticipation at the net,

Wonder how her Doubles game is going these days;)

AllezRichie Mar 11th, 2009 07:45 PM

Re: "Rabitt"-The Wendy Turnbull Thread
It's funny how fortunes have changed in Tennis over the years

Back in those days the Aussies had Evonne Cawley, Dianne Balastrat, Wendy Turnbell & Kerry Reid all in the top ten, even the english were in the top ten with Sue Barker & Virginia Wade with Betty Stove also in the top ten around this era

The young brigade from the US came to town & took over

Those were the days my friend & we thought they would never end

AdeyC Mar 13th, 2009 05:07 PM

Re: "Rabitt"-The Wendy Turnbull Thread
She was always one of my favourites, saw her many times at Eastbourne

AllezRichie Jul 21st, 2010 06:00 AM

Re: "Rabitt"-The Wendy Turnbull Thread
Does any aussie's on the WTF know why channel 7 dumped Rabbit from it's Aust Open team many years ago???
& does anyone from around the globe know if Rabbit is involved in tennis these days in the media???

I get so annoyed that channel 7 brings Tracy Austin out year after year, time for some new faces I think.....

What about the Aussie's.... Evonne, Wendy, Di, Kerry , But if we have to have O/S ones.... Approach Chrissie! or Natasha Zvreva(Now I reckon she would be a laugh like Henri Leconte

Just my little take on it all



tennisvideos Jul 21st, 2010 06:20 AM

Re: "Rabitt"-The Wendy Turnbull Thread

Originally Posted by AllezRichie (Post 18186300)
Does any aussie's on the WTF know why channel 7 dumped Rabbit from it's Aust Open team many years ago???
& does anyone from around the globe know if Rabbit is involved in tennis these days in the media???

I get so annoyed that channel 7 brings Tracy Austin out year after year, time for some new faces I think.....

What about the Aussie's.... Evonne, Wendy, Di, Kerry , But if we have to have O/S ones.... Approach Chrissie! or Natasha Zvreva(Now I reckon she would be a laugh like Henri Leconte

Just my little take on it all



Not sure why they dropped her but I really liked Rabbit. She made a good commentator as well.

I met her once at Wimbledon in the players lounge and she was so chatty and friendly. Turns out she is also a collector or tennis memorabilia so we really hit it off and had a great chat about our collections.

I loved watching her play, esp doubles. She wasn't the most stylish in terms of stroke production but she was so gutsy and fast around the court.

Yes, the good old days of Aussie womens tennis. We had it good from 1960 until about 1980 ... Court, Turner, Lehane, Tegart, Melville, Ebbern, Krantzcke, Goolagong, Hunt, Fromholtz, Turnbull et all ...

AllezRichie Jul 21st, 2010 07:05 AM

Re: "Rabitt"-The Wendy Turnbull Thread
Hey thanks for the reply.....
I thought Wendy was a pretty damn good commentator but she went off into the sunset!!!

Saw her play @Kooyong, & Melb Park..... won't forget her playing doubles with Rosie@Kooyong & Rosie's Bright Bright Red Dress.....:lol:

Fantastic Doubles Player & underated singles...... They say about Lleyton Hewitt, they have him go to war as he never gave up, The same about Rabbit, she wasn't ever going to be a week in week out challenger to Chrissie & Martina but god she fought & fought her butt off & you knew she would be trying every trick in her book!!

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