Calling all Billie Jean King experts - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2004, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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Calling all Billie Jean King experts

Hey guys. I just saw the ESPN documentary on BJK the other day. I've seen less than 10 matches involving her but I have done a lot of reading about her. I knew that she had injuries that kept her off the tour now and then, especially her knee, but I didn't realize that she had actually retired once or twice in the mid and late 70's.

I would imagine that BJK made a lot of money for a tennis player during that time but of course it's nothing next to what players haul in these days. But she kept making comebacks.....possibly to break the Wimbledon record which happened in 1979. I have wondered if she had not come back after 79, maybe the Marilyn Barnett episode wouldn't have happened.

I know in the documentary that her ex-husband Larry said that she had lost a lot of money in endorsements (which dwarf prize winnings) after Marilyn's suit. It also hinted that she played into 1983 because of money. If that's so, that's really sad for BJK. I'm sure she's fine now, but a champion always deserves to leave on her own terms.

I remember coming back from a family vacation in the summer of 1992. I was in the back seat and we were listening to the radio. During a newsbreak, we had heard that BJK had upset Tracy Austin and the guy was talking about how astonishing that win was. For those of you that can remember, can you please share your thoughts and remembrances of that match and the subsequent 3 setter against Evert in the semis?
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post #2 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2004, 04:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HanaFanGA
Hey guys. I just saw the ESPN documentary on BJK the other day. I've seen less than 10 matches involving her but I have done a lot of reading about her. I knew that she had injuries that kept her off the tour now and then, especially her knee, but I didn't realize that she had actually retired once or twice in the mid and late 70's.

I would imagine that BJK made a lot of money for a tennis player during that time but of course it's nothing next to what players haul in these days. But she kept making comebacks.....possibly to break the Wimbledon record which happened in 1979. I have wondered if she had not come back after 79, maybe the Marilyn Barnett episode wouldn't have happened.

I know in the documentary that her ex-husband Larry said that she had lost a lot of money in endorsements (which dwarf prize winnings) after Marilyn's suit. It also hinted that she played into 1983 because of money. If that's so, that's really sad for BJK. I'm sure she's fine now, but a champion always deserves to leave on her own terms.

I remember coming back from a family vacation in the summer of 1992. I was in the back seat and we were listening to the radio. During a newsbreak, we had heard that BJK had upset Tracy Austin and the guy was talking about how astonishing that win was. For those of you that can remember, can you please share your thoughts and remembrances of that match and the subsequent 3 setter against Evert in the semis?

Like a lot of the early players Billie Jean King at first didn't make any money. So many of her best years were spent in the "good old" no pay for play days. Then of course when she did start making money it wasn't all that much. I don't remember the exact numbers, but I read that when Jack Kramer was running I think it was the Pacific Southwest he wanted to pay $12, 000 for the male winner and a paltry $1,200 for the female winner. I think it was this that made the women then talk about making their own tour.


Btw, as I recall the house in Malibu that Marilyn wanted so much was eventually washed away in a storm some years ago.
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post #3 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2004, 04:44 PM
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As the top woman money earner in the first few years of open tennis, she was less hard up than all of her rivals. The financial hardship she incurred was a combination of unwise investments made by herself and Larry and later the lawsuit with Marilyn B. In 75 she retired after the Wimbledon win and had knee surgery but couldn't stay away. She played doubles at Wimbledon in 76 and represented the US in the Fed Cup, where she upset Goolagong. From 77 she was back on the tour until the end of 1980. In 81 she didn't play but came back again to play a full season in 82 and half of 83. See her career thread for details.

I saw both of those matches, though as they happened 22 years ago and I haven't seen them since, my recollections are not necessarily the most reliable. BJK played extremely well in both matches and showed exactly why she had stayed at the top for so long. She had excellent court sense and was as crafty as a fox - too smart for the 2-dimensional Austin but not quite smart enough to outwit Chrissie, whose grasscourt game by then was much improved. Nevertheless, I remember one amazing point where she played a succession of drop shots and lobs to draw Chrissie in only to send her scurrying back to the baseline making it seem as if she were a puppeteer with both the ball and Chrissie on a piece of string.

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post #4 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2004, 05:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HanaFanGA
I remember coming back from a family vacation in the summer of 1992. I was in the back seat and we were listening to the radio. During a newsbreak, we had heard that BJK had upset Tracy Austin and the guy was talking about how astonishing that win was. For those of you that can remember, can you please share your thoughts and remembrances of that match and the subsequent 3 setter against Evert in the semis?
I purchased a copy of that King/Austin match, and have watched it a few times, and while it is a 3 setter with a few spectacular points, it's tough for me to watch it as much as some of the other King matches I have (74 USO) because Billie Jean by that time had slowed considerably, and wasn't getting to the ball like she once did. She beat Austin through pretty good serving, and chipping the ball ad nauseum down to the 2-handed backhand side. Chris had played BJK so many more times than Austin, and knew exactly what to do to exploit the slower-moving King by that point- she moved her until she got the ball past her or away from her.

The match I'd really like to see is the King/Navratilova 1980 Wimbledon QF, which Navratilova won 10-8 in the third set. In Martina's own words "Billie Jean King knew exactly what to do to pick my game apart, and she did it."

There is nothing more beautiful than Evonne Goolagong in full flight moving across a tennis court.
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post #5 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2004, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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AndyT, I remember seeing that point in the match with Evert. That was so unusual to see someone have Chris Evert on a string as BJK did. It was kinda funny to watch!
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post #6 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2004, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alfajeffster
I purchased a copy of that King/Austin match, and have watched it a few times, and while it is a 3 setter with a few spectacular points, it's tough for me to watch it as much as some of the other King matches I have (74 USO) because Billie Jean by that time had slowed considerably, and wasn't getting to the ball like she once did. She beat Austin through pretty good serving, and chipping the ball ad nauseum down to the 2-handed backhand side. Chris had played BJK so many more times than Austin, and knew exactly what to do to exploit the slower-moving King by that point- she moved her until she got the ball past her or away from her.

The match I'd really like to see is the King/Navratilova 1980 Wimbledon QF, which Navratilova won 10-8 in the third set. In Martina's own words "Billie Jean King knew exactly what to do to pick my game apart, and she did it."
Alfa, I knew you'd have some answers for me! I remember HBO showing a few games from that 1980 QF during a delay. It was classic stuff, so I'd really like to see that whole match as well!

Thanks for the replies guys. As BJK would say, "Good stuff, good stuff!"

"Pronate!" and "Where's your GQ?" wouldn't really apply in this situation.
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post #7 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2004, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HanaFanGA
Alfa, I knew you'd have some answers for me! I remember HBO showing a few games from that 1980 QF during a delay. It was classic stuff, so I'd really like to see that whole match as well!

Thanks for the replies guys. As BJK would say, "Good stuff, good stuff!"

"Pronate!" and "Where's your GQ?" wouldn't really apply in this situation.
I miss hearing Billie Jean King from the HBO Wimbledon booth. In fact, I miss HBO Wimbledon coverage period. It was the best. I remember one year BJK and Barry McKay (talk about contrasts) were in the booth for a match between Steffi Graf and Amy Frazier, and they were silent for a couple of points (which is wonderful- if you don't have something to say- keep quiet), and then the camera panned to Amy Frazier's face while preparing to return a Graf service. Amy's lower lip was stuck out, and she was the picture of an angry returner, and Billie Jean King just busted out laughing and quipped:

"Look at that face! I LOVE IT! She is determined!"

I guess you had to be there- but it was obvious that Billie was "in the now" regarding the tennis, and not plugging the players, as so many commentators are want to do.

There is nothing more beautiful than Evonne Goolagong in full flight moving across a tennis court.
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post #8 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2004, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alfajeffster
I miss hearing Billie Jean King from the HBO Wimbledon booth. In fact, I miss HBO Wimbledon coverage period. It was the best. I remember one year BJK and Barry McKay (talk about contrasts) were in the booth for a match between Steffi Graf and Amy Frazier, and they were silent for a couple of points (which is wonderful- if you don't have something to say- keep quiet), and then the camera panned to Amy Frazier's face while preparing to return a Graf service. Amy's lower lip was stuck out, and she was the picture of an angry returner, and Billie Jean King just busted out laughing and quipped:

"Look at that face! I LOVE IT! She is determined!"

I guess you had to be there- but it was obvious that Billie was "in the now" regarding the tennis, and not plugging the players, as so many commentators are want to do.
ME TOO!! Boy do I miss HBO's Wimbledon coverage or what? I've never seen better, more professional, or more knowledgeable coverage of tennis with no commercial interruptions. It's the only coverage that so immersed me into the atmosphere that I felt as if I were there.

Billie Jean, Martina, and Mary were all great commentators for them. And I loved listening to them as a team. I was even starting to learn to deal with Jim Lampley's little oddities. But I am glad that I'll never have to hear him repeatedly call Ivanisevic "Ivo" ever again.
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post #9 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2004, 08:03 PM
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ME TOO!! Boy do I miss HBO's Wimbledon coverage or what? I've never seen better, more professional, or more knowledgeable coverage of tennis with no commercial interruptions. It's the only coverage that so immersed me into the atmosphere that I felt as if I were there.

Billie Jean, Martina, and Mary were all great commentators for them. And I loved listening to them as a team. I was even starting to learn to deal with Jim Lampley's little oddities. But I am glad that I'll never have to hear him repeatedly call Ivanisevic "Ivo" ever again.
Oh, he was terrible! I used to cringe when I'd hear him mispronounce Michael Stich's last name- just awful. Do you remember the match where Billie Jean, Martina, and Mary were all in the booth at the same time and Mary was going on and on about girl players who were "jocks"?!?

There is nothing more beautiful than Evonne Goolagong in full flight moving across a tennis court.
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post #10 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2004, 08:25 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by alfajeffster
Oh, he was terrible! I used to cringe when I'd hear him mispronounce Michael Stich's last name- just awful. Do you remember the match where Billie Jean, Martina, and Mary were all in the booth at the same time and Mary was going on and on about girl players who were "jocks"?!?

One thing about Mary. She still speaks as if she's in Brooklyn. Either that or she's trying to be a guy in the locker room. That's not a slap at Mary because I love her. And she's had to face some discrimination because she's a female. Remember when ESPN dumped her because they didn't want her for Davis Cup coverage? Nevertheless, I like people that are hip, but Mary could just speak plain ole English a little more.........ya know, like me!
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post #11 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 28th, 2004, 03:52 AM
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Hi guys

I am pretty sure those Wimby matches you mentioned above are available from Sports Resources at: http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/

Otherwise you can email me at: [email protected]
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post #12 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 28th, 2004, 04:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alfajeffster
In Martina's own words "Billie Jean King knew exactly what to do to pick my game apart, and she did it."
BJK was an excellent tactician and her successes against the likes of Austin so late in her career are testimony to her ability to pick apart the games of the top players even when she herself was in her late thirties. Her record against Navratilova is interesting. She beat her 4 times in 1977 but only twice thereafter, though some matches were extremely close and one wonders how they would have ended had BJK been younger and fitter.

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post #13 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 28th, 2004, 08:05 AM
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As good as the win over Tracy Austin in Wimbledon 1982 was, let's not forget that Austin didn't have much confidence in her own game that year and lost a handfull of 3 set matches vs. top ten players. In her prime years, Austin beat King at Wimbledon in 1979 (and King was even better that year than in 82) and she surely would have beaten her in 80 and 81.
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post #14 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 28th, 2004, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Andy T
BJK was an excellent tactician and her successes against the likes of Austin so late in her career are testimony to her ability to pick apart the games of the top players even when she herself was in her late thirties. Her record against Navratilova is interesting. She beat her 4 times in 1977 but only twice thereafter, though some matches were extremely close and one wonders how they would have ended had BJK been younger and fitter.
It's one of the reasons I like to watch her play- even to this day when she sometimes still gets out there for an exhibition, she's always thinking about the ball, and very little else (or even what is going on that day in her world). Though she herself feels that by 1974 her game (and fitness) had begun to take a downward turn, that U.S. Open Final is so spectacular because Evonne did play one of the best matches she's ever played, and you can still see Billie Jean dissecting Evonne's forehand and matching the Goolagong virtuoso shotmaking with a consistently balanced attack- forcing errors even from the forehand overhead and constantly pressuring the second serve. I've no need to kiss her feet (by the way- where is Darren Cahill? ), but watching her on video is an inspiration to me in my learning to be a better tennis player.

There is nothing more beautiful than Evonne Goolagong in full flight moving across a tennis court.
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post #15 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 28th, 2004, 12:07 PM
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That 1974 US Open final is my all-time favorite. No one has a passion for the game like Billie Jean does. If you had to pick one person who personified the word "tennis" it would be her.

And those quotes. OMG. "Get your bahoolas in gear Billie Jean!" just cracks me up!

At Wimbledon one year she summed up Magui Serna in one sentence.
"If she applied herself she could be top twenty, but Magui is too much of as party, party, fiesta, siesta girl for that."
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