Originally Posted by Jem
Poor Margaret was just very old in that match, and Martina was young and riding a wave that would lead to her defection. You got to hand it to Margaret for making the effort, but she was clearly past her prime by 1975, even though she would still have some decent results.
I know you're not really having a go at Marg, but wanted to agree Marg certainly WAS past her prime......
......a lot like Martina was past her prime in 1990, fourteen years after SHE'D debuted in the world top ten... She had quite a few losses then too!
Mind you, Martina being a rising young star hadn't helped much when she was crushed by the 'very old' Marg in the Wimbledon QF a month or two earlier than the US turnaround. Clearly past her prime was still above the levels of all but the top two or three at the time.
Just forgetting about Margaret's outstanding tournament haul for a minute, a couple of points people raise less often:
Are there any other former #1 players who have comeback from retirement - not once but TWICE - to again reach #1 in the world?? The THIRD time she came back from retirement, she 'only' got to #6... The FOURTH time, the computer had her at #5 when she fell pregnant again and called it quits...
(Answering my own question, Helen Wills-Moody did have absences from the game during her career and became #1 again, but never had to take time out for, or return from, childbirth).
Of course, NO-ONE has ever returned from retirement to win the Grand Slam,as Marg did in 1970, four years after she originally gave up the game.
It's rare enough for players to come back at anywhere near the same level after giving birth, let alone to get 3/4 of a Grand Slam the year following your return. Marg did that in 1973.
So, both as an amateur and as a pro, she returned from significant absences from the game to again become the best in the World.
Imagine what her record would be if she'd been more 'normal' (for a female tennis player) - ie no thoughts of marriage or children whatsoever. I tend to think she would have been #1 from 1970 to at least 1974.
Her pregnancies were, I think, one of the reasons Evonne got such a great jump-start to her career in 1971 and Evert also benefitted. If Marg had played continuously from her 1968 return to the game, she would have dominated from 1969 to 1974, after which the much younger Evert and Goolagong would have begun to turn the tables over both Court and BJK consistently on all surfaces.
This pregnancy factor also applies to Evonne who was getting to her best level in 1976 and then lost nearly two years. Evonne had even more troubles than Marg in getting back to her old level after pregnancy, seemingly becoming more prone to injuries and illness. Though she won another Wimbledon, I don't think she ever really got back to her '76 standard/consistency.
The vast majority of the top women of the Court to Goolagong eras - Bueno, King, Wade, Casals, King, Navratilova - never had babies 'getting in the way' of their careers. Was it Mrs Chambers in the 1920s who was the last mother to win Wimbledon before Evonne in 1980?
But back to Marg, whose career record of seven-times World #1 (end of year) had only ever been exceeded by Helen Wills-Moody's nine times. They were both ranked in this World's Top Ten on thirteen occasions.
From 1961, when she played a full season, Marg was only ranked below #1 on three occasions - at the very start and end, and in the first year of her first comeback.
World Rankings (*=did not play full season):
1961 - 4
1962 - 1
1963 - 1
1964 - 1
1965 - 1 - longest continuous World #1 in over 30 years - since Wills-Moody
1966 - 2* - after announcing retirement and withdrawing from US Champs
1968 - 2 - after commencing comeback
1969 - 1
1970 - 1
1971 - 2* - retired after Wimbledon due to pregnancy
1972 - 4* - after late year return after pregnancy
1973 - 1
1974 - missed most of year due to pregnancy
1975 - 6*- equal's Moody's achievement of 13 years ranked in Top Ten
1976 - did not play most of season
1977 - 5* - computer ranking when she retired again due pregnancy
And in her very brief late-76/early-77 comeback, despite being aged 34 and out of the game for over a year, she still managed to beat Kerry Reid, Betty Stove, Sue Barker, Virginia Wade, Virginia Ruzici, Wendy Turnbull, Rosie Casals and Renata Tomanova - all ranked in the World's Top 10 around that time. Not too shabby for an old woman!