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FROMHOLTZ, DIANNE (Dianne Lee Fromholtz)
Australia
Born 10 August 1956 in Albury
Married Claude Maurice Balestrat of France 26 December 1982
Daughter Miel born c 1993.
Height: 5' 4" (165 cm)
[Active 1971-1990]

1977 Australian doubles winner and singles finalist.

The Aussie lefty can be excused for having tennis on the brain-she was born just 2 blocks away from the home of Margaret Court. Starting tennis at the age of 7, she gave up ballet to pursue tennis. Margaret Court was Dianne's mentor during her early years. While she bloomed under Court's tutelage, in some quarters it was felt that trying to emulate Margaret hindered her development. She burst on the scene in 1973 at the age of 16 by winning 10 minor events across Europe. Dianne traveled on this continental adventure in a station wagon big enough for her, her mom, sister, and a traveling companion to sleep in.

Fromholtz was in the world top ten in 1976, one sign of her elite status was being one of only four women to beat Chris Evert all year.

In 1977 she made the final in Australia. A 7-5 6-2 defeat at the hands of veteran Kerry Reid was the closest she ever came to a major. The doubles title in Australia with Helen Cawley was some consolation.

Later that year she had a huge upset over Chris Evert at the Colgate Championships in the round robin. Her failure to beat Martina Navratilova or Virginia Wade in her next two matches deprived Dianne of a spot in the final.

1979 was her best year on the circuit. She won a major event at Boston, reached the semis of the French, and had wins over Evert and Navratilova.

Her career suffered a setback in 1981 when she was involved in two separate serious car accidents. After those incidents she was never quite the same force.

Singles


Career record 429–223
Career titles 23
Highest ranking No. 4 (19 March 1979)

World Rankings (computer ranking only began in 1975)1975: #20
1976: #6
1977: #8
1978: #10
1979: #6

Grand Slam Singles quality results

Australian Open F (Jan. 1977) QF (1973)
French Open SF (1979, 1980)
Wimbledon QF (1979, 1987)
US Open SF (1976)

Doubles


Career record 134–141
Career titles 6
Highest ranking No. 56 (14 September 1987

At the 1977 Colgate Championships






Sources and Links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dianne_Fromholtz

1980 WTA Media Guide, page 65.
 

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ooops somehow missed this thread. Thanks for the images Rollo.


Di and Kerry Reid were the only top 10 players in the Australian 1977 and unfortunately Dianne didn't her play her best throughout the whole tournament. Nine years her senior, Kerry probably wasn't going to let this opportunity slip for a slam title.


She took about three years off after 1981, and from 1984 (I may have to check these years) she came back on the tour through the satellite circuit. She made the final of the Sydney indoor tournament (1985 or 86?) losing to Pam Shriver which signalled her return to the tour. The backhand was the a glorious looking stroke, though after her comeback she returned to the tour in great physical shape from training with sand bags on her back!


Didn't play Fed Cup after she returned to the tour, basically saying that after 10 years she had given enough to the team. I remember in an old Tennis Australia magazine, I think Dianne had said that she was a little peeved (pre-break) that she was omitted from the team by reading this in a newspaper.


Her best result after her break was reaching the QF at Wimbledon where she lost to Navratilova. Unfortunately, as was often the case with Australian tennis telecasts, the match wasn't televised and all we got was a 30 second highlights package. (Too busy getting excited with Pat cash that year). She was able to reach the top 20 post-break as well.


Played well into her 30's and was given the honour of being the first player to play a match on the Rod Laver Arena (Flinders Park) in the 1st round of the Australian Open 1988. Unfortunately lost 8-6 in the third to 200+ ranked US player Wendy Wood. Dianne played the AO the next year losing to Andrea Leand, and w/o checking, maybe her last slam match.


Dianne did get involved in coaching and her daughter Meil did play some local Australian money tournaments a few years ago.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for sharing Louloubelle.

Sand bags on her back! That's some serious commitment. Do you know if she and her husband are still living in Australia?

I share your pain about TV from that era. 1979 was the year I saw Fromholtz most on the telly-and it was very little really. After beating up on Chris Evert Di was invited to a special 4 woman event. In Washington a local network had her beating Wendy Turnbull.

How nice it would be to see clips of her beating Chris! Your post mentioned Fed Cup--Fromholtz had a terrific battle vs Evert in Madrid in 1979. It was something like 8-6 in the third, and this just weeks before the French!
 

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The 1980 World of Tennis has a photo of Di and Chris and a match report on pages 230 and 231 by Laurie Pignon

Chris (playing as Evert-Lloyd for the first time) won 2-6 6-3 8-6.

..'often punished by the forehand of Miss Fromholtz" Evert-Lloyd dropped serve 3 times in the first set, even losing 15 of 16 points at one stage.

Down 0-1 in the second, Chris recovered by use of the drop shot. Fromholtz raced in and fell on the red clay right near the net post to even things 1 apiece. This "broke the spell" as she lost the second stanza.

A rest and torrential rain delayed matters for 90 minutes. Evert-Lloyd held serve at love both times she had to serve to stay in the match.

"Sensing that her chance had gone, and mentally tired, the Australian, who plays with the heart and spirit of a Jack Russell terrier, began to press, which led to mistakes, and eventually to her downfall. Although the playing time was 2 hours 18 minutes the duration of the match was almost four hours."

Just a couple weeks later Chris routined Dianne 6-1 6-3 in the semis at Roland Garros.

P. S. Di also beat Martina Navratilova twice in 1979!
 

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^ Thanks Rollo.


I did read somewhere that Di and Claude still live in Australia. Unless Dianne's coaching has taken her overseas recently. Unfortunately I don't think Tennis Australia have ever used her expertise.


Yes, would've loved to see some footage of Dianne playing in the late 70's, particularly in matches against Chris. I would've imagined Dianne preferring to play Martina & Billie Jean (utilising a target) than Chris.... so for her to get 3 or so wins against Chris is amazing.
 

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On youtube they have her 3rd round of Wimbledon against Jo Durie.

What was a bit unique in her game, that she used topspin on both sides. Most of the ladies sliced on the backhand in the 70th.
 

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Hardway was always a pleasure to watch - even in the 80s when past her peak.

I remember being disappointed that, after she & Kerry Reid demolished Wade & Barker in the 1977 Fed Cup, Di had to withdraw from Wimbledon the next week and Kerry couldn't replicate her form.

In the finals of Fed Cup (77 & 78) it was unlucky that team selection followed wta rankings. If Di had been able to play Evert as #1 Aussie, things might have been different in both finals.

In Australia, she was probably at her best on the courts of White City in Sydney where conditions often favoured lefties.

Probably the most vivid memory I have of Di playing doubles (she wasn't that comfortable at the net unlike most other Aussies at the time) is the Wimbledon Mixed final (1980? vs the Austins) where Mark Edmondson was pretty disrespectful, almost pushing Di out of the way to take overheads. They really should have been the superior team that day.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
In the finals of Fed Cup (77 & 78) it was unlucky that team selection followed wta rankings. If Di had been able to play Evert as #1 Aussie, things might have been different in both finals.
True Geetee! Dianne had a surprising number of wins and close matches with Evert.

Was "Hardway" a nickname? And if so how or why did she get it.

Nice to read your post-you've been missed friend:)
 

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Posted by Chaton What was a bit unique in her game, that she used topspin on both sides. Most of the ladies sliced on the backhand in the 70th.
That surprised me too Chaton. I was wrong in thinking she was all forehand.
Louloubelle was spot on about her backhand being "a glorious looking stroke"

What I found intriguing about the match vs Jo Durie was the commentary by Ann Jones. Jones was herself a southpaw with a baseline game. Her commentary is usually incisive, and especially useful to going beyond the obvious.

Here is a link to the at times very entertaining Fromholtz-Durie match:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xicsB7sE0CI
 

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The 1976 World Team Tennis All-Star Match.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vv6An2oT1E8


Fromholtz is pretty, the court and film quality are heidi (Rollo speak for hideous) but the crowd is going WILD screaming out even between points.

And we have a little Virginia Wade, and a lot of Betty Stove, Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong, and Billie Jean King, who helped push this whole World Team Tennis concept.

Oh yeah, and to cap it off the entire match comes down to one point they called "sudden death".

Watch and enjoy
 

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Mainly about Chris Evert-but the clips used are from the 1979 French semi vs Dianne Fromholtz, so if you watch it through one can catch glimpses of Di. It also shows how great Evert's defensive skills were, as Di has her hustling in many rallies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRXDvqW7Exg
 

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The commentator makes it sound like "Wacky Races"! :surprise:


The 1976 World Team Tennis All-Star Match.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vv6An2oT1E8


Fromholtz is pretty, the court and film quality are heidi (Rollo speak for hideous) but the crowd is going WILD screaming out even between points.

And we have a little Virginia Wade, and a lot of Betty Stove, Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong, and Billie Jean King, who helped push this whole World Team Tennis concept.

Oh yeah, and to cap it off the entire match comes down to one point they called "sudden death".

Watch and enjoy
 

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True Geetee! Dianne had a surprising number of wins and close matches with Evert.

Was "Hardway" a nickname? And if so how or why did she get it.

Nice to read your post-you've been missed friend:)

Gee Tee did it come about during the 1977 Australian Open, where she had a number of close matches (winning matches the hard way)??

Probably the most vivid memory I have of Di playing doubles (she wasn't that comfortable at the net unlike most other Aussies at the time) is the Wimbledon Mixed final (1980? vs the Austins) where Mark Edmondson was pretty disrespectful, almost pushing Di out of the way to take overheads. They really should have been the superior team that day.

Yes 1980 and they had match points as well.
 

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I always thought the 'Hardway' nickname came because of her trips in the van with Mum etc around Europe (ie doing things the hard way as opposed to jetting between 5-star hotels).
 

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Doesn't anyone have video of Di playing? A full match replay vs Jo Durie used to be on you
tube but its no longer. I taped dozens of matches on VHS from the 80's and am hoping I still have them stored at my parents in Qld. Thank god I kept albums full of clippings from newspapers of Diane's career. She still to this day is my all time favourite player.

Craig
 

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I liked Lady Di Fromholtz. She was intriguing to me. I started following the game seriously in 1976. And I distinctly remember the reports of a stunning upset in the Slims event in Boston: Australian youngster Dianne Fromholtz SHOCKED world #1 Chris Evert in the FIRST ROUND! 2-6,6-2,6-3. Fromholtz had the unmitigated GALL of beating my personal fave Chris Evert!!! Di had just moved up to the Slims tour from the Avon Circuit. An Avon gal beating the #1 Slims attraction was a major deal! By year's end, Di was ranked #5 in the world. She had a stellar 2nd half of 1976. Her results were:

US Open SF: lost to Goolagong
US Indoors SF: lost 6-4 in the 3rd to Wade
Phoenix F: lost to Evert. Phoenix was a big event that year. 56 player draw, 6 top 10 players. Billie Jean King came out of retirement and entered, only to be pasted by Fromholtz. Di then rallied to beat Martina in the SF.
Colgate Inaugural QF: lost to Holladay, after again beating King in straight sets
Colgate Sydney SF: lost to Navratilova
Toyota SF: lost to Barker

Di had some health issues in 1977, and didn't compete as often on the Slims tour, and did;t qualify for VS Championships in 1977. She fared better on Colgate series. Her end of 1976 results - including RU at Sydney and Australian Open gave her a leg up, since first half 1977 results weren't that good. Di reached F in Atlanta (beating King but losing to Evert), and semis in Brazil, where King finally got revenge.

In the first ever Colgate Series Championships, played at Mission Hills, Di scored ANOTHER opening round victory over Chris Evert, 7-6,6-4. Chris rarely lost in straight sets, and her hardcourt record in the 1970s and early 80s is almost as impressive as her clay court record, so Di's win was huge. The round robin format and draw made the Fromholtz win all the more intriguing. Strangely, #1 Evert, #2 Wade, and #3 Navratilova plus Fromholtz were in the same group. After grabbing the early group lead, Di lost to both Wade and Navratilova, while Chris beat both Martina and Virginia. Had Di scored a win over Virgnia or Martina, she would have been in the Colgate final.

I'll post more recollections of Fromholtz. As noted, she reached her only major singles final in Australia in January 1977. But she never had the fine grass court results that most of her Aussie contemporaries Reid, Turnbull, and Goolagong. I felt Di's best surface was indoors, where her flat hard grounds paid dividends. Di's best Wimbledon results were 2 QF losses to Martina, one coming as expected in 1979 when she was #6 seed, the other at the tail end of her career in 1987. She reached SF of three clay court majors: 1976 US Open at Forest Hills, and 1979 French - where she whipped defending champ Ruzici in the QF, and semis in 1980 where Ruzici exacted revenge.
 

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Lady Di's game could sometimes appear to be rather mechanical, but boy could she be deadly accurate when she was on. I think that is why she did very well on the slick indoor circuit. But she had good results on clay: 2 semis at French, plus one at US Open. And RU at US Clay Courts to Evert in 1975. Fromholtz came within a few points of what would have been the biggest win of her career: busting Chris Evert's clay court streak! She barely lost 8-6 in the third in the finals of the Fed Cup in Spain, just 2 weeks before Evert lost to you know who in Rome. The following year Di took Chris to 3 sets again in the Fed Cup finals in Germany on clay.

1979 was Fromholtz' career year. She finished #2 on the Avon circuit. Building on the success of winning two events Down Under at end of 1978, Di jumped right into it on Avon circuit, reaching semis of first 3 events, and then thrashing Wade en route to the final in Florida. She was upended by Greer Stevens - who probably deserved the title for stunning Evert in the 1R and continuing her winning ways for the rest of the week. Barker surprised Fromholtz in the 2R of Philly, but Di enacted her revenge a week later in taking out Sue to win Boston.

Fromholtz earned her 3rd career win over Evert in the RR portion of the Avon Championships at Madison Square Garden. Her win knocked Evert out of the tournament, the first time Chris did not reach the SF of a big time tournament (majors or circuit ending championships). Fromholtz also became the first player to beat Evert in both the Slims/Avon and Colgate Championships.

The week after the Avon Ch Dianne scored another big win, whipping Martina in the SF of the 4 woman Clairol Crown event nand taking the first set from Chris in the finals before Evert rallied.
 
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