RUSSELL, JOANNE (JoAnne Carlton Russell)
Born 30 October 1954
Married George Longdon, 22 September 1990
Height: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
1977 Wimbledon doubles champion with Helen Cawley. They upset #2 seeds Rosie Casals and Chris Evert in the opening round. Fighting on to the finals, they then pulled off a seconf shocker over #1 seeds Martina Navratilova and Betty Stöve in the final 6–3 6–3.
As a matter of fact JoAnne and Helen had hardly even met before the event.
"We were supposed to play in Eastborne the week before but she didn’t show up," Russell recalls. "Then at Wimbledon, I’m waiting on court two. Chris and Rosie are sitting there and they go, ‘Where’s your partner?’ I said, ‘She wasn’t in my locker room.’ I didn’t wanna say I never met her before! Finally Helen walks out, a tiny wisp of a thing. She had racquets, so I go, ‘That’s her!’ She comes over, looks at me and says, ‘Do you mind playing the backhand side?’ I go, ‘No, Helen. I always play the backhand.’ Meanwhile, I haven’t played the backhand side since I was twelve, but you can’t say, ‘Oh, no! Don’t put me there!’ Then she goes, ‘Do you mind serving first?’ I said, ‘No, Helen. I am serving so well.’ Luckily she missed my singles match where I lost 0-and-0 and double faulted 28 times to Rosie (Casals) in the worst match I ever played at Wimbledon." Nonetheless, in their debut match, Russell/Cawley blasted through Evert/Casals 6-3, 7-5 and steamrolled their way to the finals.
At 6-3, 5-3, 40-love, on the centennial anniversary of the Wimbledon Championships, Russell unloaded a big first serve into Navratilova’s backhand. When the return went wide, Russell and Cawley jumped for joy and walked away with the crowning achievement of their careers.
Her momentum was halted when she injured an ankle while running on a golf course.
1978 was her best season. She did well on the Slims circuit, and had that a big win over Martina Navratilova at the Family Circle Cup. JoAnne was seeded #14 at the US Open that year.
Joanne got injured early in 1979, was off the tour several weeks and lost 6 straight matches. Her ranking dropped to 101 before she won a minor WTA event (total prize money was 6 thousand) at Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Solid but unspectacular results followed-she was usually ranked in the 20s.
A rainy Wimbledon in 1982 was the setting for her deepest singles run in slam. JoAnne won 4 three set matches in a row, including toppling seeds Jausovec (to whom she was down 2 match points) and a grumpy Sylvia Hanika in the fourth round. Hanika opined about how Russell had no chance vs Martina Navratilova. Without missing a beat Russell shot back, "I have a better chance than she [Hanika] does!" In fact Russell did lose, but it was a respectable 6-3 6-4 loss at time when Navratilova was dominating the tour.
Year End rankings
(All year-end WTA rankings from ITF yearbooks.)
1977: #15 (reached career high of #11)
A TV announcer after her playing days were over.
- Member, 1973 U.S. Junior Wightman Cup Team
- Member of two U.S. National Collegiate Championship Teams, Trinity University 1973, 1975 (runner–up 1974)
- U.S. Collegiate Doubles Champion (with Donna Stockton) 1975
- 17–1 dual match record in singles at Trinity 1972–75; All-American 1975
- Professional Tour Player 1975–1988; 4 Doubles Titles, 10 Finals; 2 Singles Titles
- World No. 1 Ranking in Doubles (with Rosie Casals) 1977
- Ranked in U.S. Top 10 in Singles 1976–78; Career High World Singles Ranking No. 11 1977
- Wimbledon Doubles Champion 1977 (with Helen Gourlay)
- U.S. Open Mixed Doubles Finalist in 1981; Doubles Quarterfinalist 1975, 1981–3, 1985
- Wimbledon Quarterfinalist Singles 1982; Doubles 1978, 1982; Mixed Doubles 1982
- Member, U.S. Wightman Cup Team 1977
- Commentator for NBC, ESPN, USA Network, StarTV, Turner Broadcasting 1980–90
- Teaching pro, Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, California January 2010–present
Hoisting the Wimbledon trophy in 1977 with Helen Gourlay
Links and Sources:
[A Blast Thread]
[Russell vs Evert in a 1978 WTT match]
JOANNE RUSSELL | ITA Women's Hall of Fame