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Discussion Starter #1
The more I've read about Darlene Hard as a person and a tennis player the more intrigued I've been about her. She was a great champion, yet I wonder if she achieved all that she could've. She definitely was not well-liked by all (left off the Fed Cup team when she was the defending US Champion) yet she took time to nurse her friend Maria Bueno back to health during a serious illness. She also seemed to occasionally just miss a major championship where she would've been a major contender. After losing to a young Margaret Smith in Australia, she commented that she couldn't wait to get Smith on American soil and that Margaret hadn't done anything outside of Australia.

Anyone with more info on the highs and lows of the career and person of Darlene Hard?
 

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She sounds like a very volatile character and intrigues me, too. Her career is an interesting one, spanning the mid fifties and the early sixties (plus a limited comeback in the very early years of open tennis), when she watched Gibson, Bueno and then Smith-Court come up and overtake her. Nonetheless, three majors and several final appearances plus an excellent doubles record suggest the woman had game.

Re the tantrums and the bitching, I'll dig out any quotes I can find in due course, Preacherfan. She doesn't seem to have had many friends on the circuit back then.
 

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preacherfan said:
The more I've read about Darlene Hard as a person and a tennis player the more intrigued I've been about her. She was a great champion, yet I wonder if she achieved all that she could've. She definitely was not well-liked by all (left off the Fed Cup team when she was the defending US Champion) yet she took time to nurse her friend Maria Bueno back to health during a serious illness. She also seemed to occasionally just miss a major championship where she would've been a major contender. After losing to a young Margaret Smith in Australia, she commented that she couldn't wait to get Smith on American soil and that Margaret hadn't done anything outside of Australia.

Anyone with more info on the highs and lows of the career and person of Darlene Hard?
I've bumped the Wightman Cup thread up P/F. If you look at message #34 you will see a post about Darlene's non-participation in 1961.

I also posted once about the 1962 match when she was recalled but was mentioned by the American captain in her de-briefing to the USLTA as having been disruptive and having a negative effect on the team but I can't remember in which thread. I'll see if I can find the report again.
 

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Darlene does seem to have been rather a temperamental character saving her best tennis for the US Champs although she did reach two Wimbledon finals. From 1957 - 1963 she was in the top 5 in the world but in her early years she seemed to be caught in the slipstream of Althea Gibson, Louise Brough and Beverley Baker-Fleitz in the US. She became the US #1 in 1960 a position which she held for the next four years although for 1963 in world terms some ranked the upcoming Billie Jean Moffitt higher.

Without any deep thought I always assumed she and Maria Bueno were rather more than good friends although I see she later became Mrs Waggoner which might or might not mean anything but this is beside the point anyway.

With Bueno they were the outstanding doubles pairing in the world for 4 or 5 years. In total Darlene won 3 French, 4 Wimbledon and 6 US doubles titles. Her final doubles Slam title was a surprising one. Having turned pro in 1964, in 1969 when Ann Jones pulled out of the USO at the last minute with a shoulder injury Darlene teamed up with Frankie Durr and swept to the title.

Although clay would not have been her best surface, surprisingly she won her first Slam title at RG in 1960. Unlike many of the American players, Darlene did compete there regularly although not every year. Her victory in 1960 was really out of context with her efforts there in other years. The French had the quaint custom of giving the previous year's winner the #1 seeding position. With Christine Truman absent Suzy Kormoczy was given the honour as the previous year's runner-up. However this meant that Hard and Bueno fell into the same half of the draw. After squeaking past Rennee Schuurman 11-9 in the final set of their quarter, Darlene who normally had to give second best to Maria in their h2hs blasted her off court. Ann Haydon, who up until then had been having an outstanding season lost a long battle to Vera Puzejova and Yola Ramirez came through a depleted top half of the draw but was no match in the final. She lost surprisingly to Sandra Reynolds at Wimbledon but at Forest Hills again beat Maria in the final to hold 2 of the Slam titles.

Her best results at Wimbledon were in her early years where she reached the final in 1957 losing to Althea Gibson and 1959 to Bueno. Nursing Bueno after RG she contracted hepatitis from her in 1961 and was out for almost 2 months leading to her row with the USLTA over her non-inclusion in their Wightman Cup team that year.

In 1962 she made the trip to Australia but didn't have a great record there losing matches she would have been expected to win. Grass was, of course, her best surface so she might have been expected to do well there. She lost to Jan Lehane in the Australian Championships. I don't know much about the court surfaces in Australia at that time but Lesley Turner did remark that "Kooyong was the only grass Slam played on a hard court".

It was after leaving Australia that she made her perhaps unwise (as events turned out)comments about the Australian scene and Margaret Court:

"I have joined the great majority of tennis visitors to Australia , I'll never go back. Go through the list - Maria Bueno, Angela Mortimer, Sandra Reynolds, Renee Schuurman and now myself (Yola Ramirez never returned either). After one experience, we have all said 'Never again'.

The trouble with officials of the LTA of Australia is that they treat you not as a player but as a puppet. Between tournaments, I was not asked to play in exhibitions, I was ordered to play in them. It was not 'Miss Hard, would you mind playing?' It was 'Miss Hard, you will play.'

I think it is reasonably well known that I had hepatitis last year and it takes a long time to get over the effects. While in Australia, I found that after a set and a half, I was exhausted."

Darlene also alleged that she had been sniped at by the press during the tour because of her defeats by Margaret Smith the Australian #1 . The needling items about her may have been printed in the hope that she would blow her top in replying to charges, allegations or sneers. " But I must have disappointed them," said Darlene "From the start of the tour I refused to enter into any controversy whatsoever. At one stage I was talked to by two slightly tipsy newpapermen for half an hour trying to goad me into making outrageous statements. When I would not make any nasty remarks, they said they would not publish any of the interview."

There had been scoffing references to her defeats by Margaret Smith. "Margaret's a good player. But what has she done out of Australia? Who won at Forest Hills. I'll be very happy to settle the matter at Wimbledon. There, on neutral ground, it will be possible to decide who is right - the Australians who tell me that Margaret is, and will remain, a better player than I, or myself. I am convinced that, with my health restored, I can handle her a little while longer."

I think history has sorted that one out!

It is interesting that in later years Ann Jones was also very unhappy about her treatment in Australia and had poor results the few times she went there, usually to play for GB in the Federation Cup.

Having been left out of the US Wightman Cup Team for 1961 Darlene was recalled for the match at Wimbledon in 1962. Whether after her omission in 1961 Darlene felt she had a point to make or not, Margaret duPont in her official report to the USLTA while commending Darlene for her two singles wins said "Although she worked hard in her matches, Miss Hard was a disrupting element in the team situation. Her efforts to organize everyone's practice in her manner was detrimental to some of the other players' games. She insisted on practicing her way instead of complying with the Captain's wishes and those of other team members. Miss Hard's behavior on court was poor. In her match with Miss Haydon she constantly complained about line decisions, and against Miss Truman she broke her opponent's concentration even before a ball was hit by chiding Miss Truman about the manner in which she tossed her racket for Miss Hard to 'call.' By contrast, the court manners of the British girls were perfect....." (Maybe that's why the Brits always lose!)

Having failed to settle her "dispute" as promised with Margaret Smith at Wimbledon in 1962 (Margaret lost sensationally to Billie Jean Moffitt in the second round and Darlene equally surprisingly to Vera Sukova in the quarters) the showdown came in the Forest Hills final that year.

Darlene was distraught at losing the first set 9-7 having had a set point at 7-6. In the second set Margaret ws leading 3-2 with game point in the sixth. She volleyed the ball deep and went back to receive service thinking she had won the point. The lineman on the baseline belatedly called the ball out giving Madge a 4-2 lead. Darlene stopped as though stunned then put her hands to her eyes and wept, walking to the rear of the court and continuing to weep for 3 minutes with her face turned to the canvas backstop as the g allery roared its support for her. A bewildered Smith eventually sat down on the grass at her end of the court waiting for the storm to pass. But her concentration was broken and Darlene pulled up to 4-4 breaking serve to love but Margaret then settled down again and won the last 2 games for the loss of only 1 point.

Said Margaret:

"I would like to think she was distressed and that her actions were not deliberate. The incident started after I had hit a winner down the sidelines. My shot could have taken the outside chalk, but I was not in a position to say.The linesman could have ruled either way as far as I was concerned but Darlene thought the shot was out. On the next point, when Darlene really blew up, her retuen to me was definitely out over the baseline by a good fout inches. Admittedly, the baseline umpire was slow in calling and Darlene walked back, thinking she had won the point. The two linesmen looked at one another before finally signalling out, and Darlene swung round with an amazed look on her face. The crowd hooted at the call but the shot was out without any doubt in the world. I was right over the ball and saw it clearly land outside the baseline. When Darlene walked to the back of the court and began crying, I was stunned and couldn't understand it. My first thought was that she was trying to break my concentration and I kept trying to keep my mind on the game.

Then as Darlene showed no sign of stopping, I became perturbed and thought she was really upset. As her crying continued and I sat down on the court, I couldn't help thinking: I could have cried at Wimbledon but didn't. Why doesn't she stop and get on with it?"

Who knows what was going through Darlene's mind? Perhaps she remembered her scathing remarks about Margaret after her Australian tour and here she was in their next important match losing to her in her own backyard. Perhaps she saw her chances of winning another Slam slipping away as Margaret began to make great advances, Maria now seemed to have a hold on her and she was under pressure from both Karen Susman and Billie Jean Moffitt at home. Double faults became a feature of her play.

Although she had been criticised for her attitude and play she was chosen for the US Wightman Cup team in 1963 but lost to Haydon after leading 3-0 and 40-0 in the final set. That year she lost in the second round at RG and the quarters at Forest Hills. Although still one of the world's top players her pposition was slipping as she dropped out of the top 3 for the first time in 5 years.

At the start of 1964 as per usual she went to South Africa with Maria Bueno. At the end of this tour she turned professional. I have never read anywhere her reasons for this or when she began considering it. I don't know much about the professional game at the time but there did not seem to be much scope in it for women and there were very clear demarcation lines between it and the "shamateur" game.

Certainly the timing does seem a bit strange. Why start the new season to stop just before the major part of it. Darlene and Maria did, I think, do well with appearance fees and South Africa was probably one of the richest countries in the world at that time. Their tournaments attracted large spectatorship, even the smaller ones. This was the year that Hulett's, the leading sugar distiller in the country has set up a major series of events extending the Sugar Circuit to 9 tournaments culminating in the South African Championships. They also brought over Ann Jones who had finished high in the top 10 the previous year although she was off-form in 64 and 65 and Deirdre Catt and Liz Starkie, two Brits who were threatening to break into the top 10 and attacking Jones' position in the UK. Together with such home players as Renee Schuurman, the rising Annette van Zyl and Margaret Hunt this made a pretty strong circuit. So the inducement for Darlene to go might have been considerable.

Although she had a strong tour winning 6 of the 9 events including the national champs her temperament was again to the fore. In the first event at Port Elizabeth she was leading Annette van Zyl 6-2 5-0 when an obviously wrong call was given in favour of the South African. Darlene threw a wobbler and a stunned crowd watched as she proceeded to through the motions and threw 13 games in a row barely trying to hit the ball.

Perhaps the pressures of trying to maintain her position at the top of the world game were becoming too much as she saw others catch up and pass her, maybe she even had a fall out with Bueno for the two were pretty inseparable. It is hard to judge her form at the start of 1964 for both Bueno and Jones were well below par plus if Darlene had decided to go pro she might have had the incentive and freedom to throw everything into a final amateur fling.

But her defection from the amateur ranks certainly robbed the game of some of its colour.
 

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Thanks for all that information Chris. Darlene Hard certainly was a colourful character - and she seemed to have a pretty tough life. I was always impressed when she came back and won the US Open doubles in 1969 - after having been "retired" for a number of years. On another note entirely, I read yesterday that Serena Williams has been endorsing some product for menstrual issues - and that reminded me of a yucky story about Darlene Hard having a probelm with her period on Wimbledon centre court during a mixed doubles final! I think Grace Lichtenstein writes about it in "You've Come a Long Way Baby".
 

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That was a lot of work Chris-Thanks:worship:


I've always wondered how she would have been regarded had she won a Wimbledon. It's funny that she won the slam she shouldn't have (the French) yet missed the boat at the big W.

The tennis gods giveth-the tennis gods taketh away.
 

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Two partly conflicting views of Darlene, the first from BJK and the second from Ann Jones.

From "We Have Come a Long Way" by BJK and Cynthia Starr

p102

"The best player in the United States from 1960 through 1963 was Darlene Hard. She retired in 1964, four years before open tennis, with a total of twenty-one Grand Slam singles and doubles titles to her credit and only $400 in her bank account.
"But I didn't do it for money," Darlene said. "We toured for country and flag and to play better and to be Number 1 or whatever we were working for. I was the last of the amateurs. In our day I won Forest Hills and I got my airfare from New York to Los Angeles. Whoopee. I won Wimbledon [doubles championships] seven times and I got ten pounds each time, which was like 18 dollars. But we still went for our titles. We went for the glory. It kept us out there, year after year. I was happy. I loved it. I loved tennis."
... she might have won more singles titles but for two weaknesses in her game. She had an erratic forehand, and she did not believe in herself. Her two Wimbledon finals, against Althea Gibson in 1957 and Maria Bueno in 1959, were anticlimactic for her, she said, "because I didn't seem to produce the same tennis I had while getting there. I seemed to be happy being there and not eager to take number 1. I don't know why. I was always number two in the world, and I always knew that. I wasn't trying to set any records. All I knew was I didn't want to lose."

p 103
"Darlene was a ponytailed blonde and a crowd pleaser, a good natured player who always had a smile on her face. She made friends everywhere she went."

From "A Game to Love" by Ann Jones.

p64

"Darlene was a Wimbledon finalist with a big reputation but her temperament wasn't suited to the clay court type of game. In short, good as she was, there was still a flaw I could work at. She was inconsistent and her forehand would break down under repeated pressure."

p80
"Darlene [had] some wonderful volleys."

p81

"In the first tournament in Sao Paolo, I beat Darlene, with whom disagreeemnts sometimes occured, after a long match which ended in a very unusual way [she collapsed with cramps with Jones leading 4-3 30-love in the third and was carried off two points later] . If a match stood at 1-1 she was always a good sport, calling "good shot" in her opponents favour when the ball landed near the line, but if it reached 5-all and deuce it seemed to me that she would try her best to influence the linesman in her favour. This used to infuriate me."

p98
"One or two players had themeselves better organised in this respect, particularly Maria and Darlene. In fact, wherever I went, they negotiated such high expenses that there was little left for anyone else."
 

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Rollo said:
I've always wondered how she would have been regarded had she won a Wimbledon. It's funny that she won the slam she shouldn't have (the French) yet missed the boat at the big W.

Andy T said:
Two partly conflicting views of Darlene, the first from BJK and the second from Ann Jones.

I suppose it's a fact of life that winning Wimbledon, even today, is always going to be the yardstick by which a player is to a large degree judged on and remembered by. The absence of this, for example, is the reason why Monica Seles' achievements are to an extent downgraded by some.

I think the quote by Andy that she felt she was the #2 probably sums it up. She normally had to give second best to Maria and was not in Gibson's class when Althea was at her peak in winning Wimby. She was probably at her best in 1960 when in beating Bueno in the final of both RG and Forest Hills she came close to acieving the #1 ranking but those inexplicable defeats to lesser players cost her. She sometimes tended to tighten up within sight of victory and double fault which could lead to defeat.

I would rank her alongside Ann Jones as the "nearly" players. Jones was an excellent player, who always seemed to be the in the latter stages of Slams but was just that one step below Bueno, King or Smith-Court and managed to pull out a few Majors. Before the start of the South African circuit in 1964 she and Jones were pretty much level in terms of h2hs and Jones became a better player in 1966-1969 than she was pre-1964.

Certainly, from reading articles etc from the era I never received the impression that she was particularly popular and she did seem to have run-ins with the authorities.

I obviously have no concrete evidence but my understanding was that both she and Bueno did pretty well from "appearance" fees particularly in South Africa. The fact that she had only $400 in her bank account when she turned pro could mean she spent what she got! There was no question a lot of "backhanders" were paid which is why the British and Australian Associations were so in favour of open tennis. You would also have to question if she was playing "for the glory" why she skipped RG a couple of years to play small tournaments in Germany?

Of course, it is very difficult to make a judgment in retrospect from articles and innuendo.

Incidentally, there was an interesting background to her diatribe against Margaret Smith and The Australian LTA which she had never intended to be made public. Darlene made the remarks to a gentleman in private not realising he was a reporter. World Tennis then bought his story. When it was published she tried to deny it. But World Tennis went to her and said they woud publish a disclaimer if it was untrue. Darlene was caught out and had to concede.

But she certainly seems to have had a lot to say for herself and must have been a bundle of fun at parties.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
from 1961
Mar 20-26 Caribbean Chmps, Montego Bay, Jamaica. (GR)
SF Rameriez d. Hard 6-1 13-11. Haydon d. Thomas 6-4 6-2
F Yola Rameriez (Mex) d. Ann Haydon (GB) 6-3 11-9
Doubles cancelled due to rain.

Hard displeases by not even trying to return a soft serve by Yola Rameriez on match point. "The US National Champion had simply quit. Members of the gallery were flabbergasted by her behavior".
 

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Discussion Starter #10
From the 1960 Wimbledon report:
Maria is two points from winning the triple, only to fall in the mixed final after Darlene leaves the court for "feminine reasons" late the crucial third set. Hard/Laver go on to win vs. a steamed Howe and Bueno 13-11 3-6 8-6. afterwards Maria "vowed never to play with her again", a vow she didn't keep.

Can you imagine top players getting so into a mixed doubles final today?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Copied from the 60's H2H Thread:

The rivalry between Darlene hard and Margaret Smith, although short-lived, because of Darlene's turning professional in Spring 1964, was one of the central themes of the early 1960s. It was also a bitter rivalry, as documented in Margaret Court's first autobiography, "The Margaret Smith Story". Here are the h2h stats until the end of 1963 punctuated with a few quotes.

1) 1961 US Championships (sf) Hard won 64 46 63

"My match with darlene was described afterwards as the best of the tournament, and I can blame several bad serving lapses for my defeat, although I did take her to three sets." (p.59)

2) 1961/2 South Australian/Adelaide (f) Court won 64 57 64
3) 1961/2 Western Australian/Perth (f) Court won 63 60
4) 1961/2 Victorian/Melbourne (f) Court won 63 62

"I saw very little of the American off the court and as there was no evidence from Darlene that she wanted to be friendly, our matches were usually played in a cool atmosphere." (p.63)

5) 1961/2 NSW Champs/Sydney (f) Court won 62 61

"We shook hands in silence at the net and gathered up our racquets and handbags and walked off the court..... Darlene was met by several friends and I was surprised to overhear her say in rather annoyed tones: "Wait until I get her on my courts back in the States." (P.65)

6) 1962 Italian Championships (sf) Court won 75 63 (Hard had 3sp in 1s at 54)
7) 1962 US Nationals (f) Court won 97 64

"I took the first set 9-7, helped by several vital serving errors on Darlene's part.....
In the second set, Darlene sparked off one of the most extraordinary incidents I have ever seen on a tennis court, and if it was prompted by gamesmanship and a wish to unsettle me it certainly had the desired result.
Early in the set she hit a shot over the baseline and after a fairly long delay, the linesman called it 'out'. In the meantime she had started to walk back to the baseline, thinking she had won the point.
The late call upset her, but a few points later another shot down the sideline was at least four inches out, and again Darlene thought it was in.
When the call 'Out' came, Darlene called back, 'it was in'
So we both stood there, Darlene glaring at the linesman and me waiting to get on with the game.
Then Darlene turned and walked to the hessian backstop at the back of the court, put her head in her hands and started to sob. Her shoulders heaved, and while thousands of people sat and watched, she cried and cried." (p102)

In the Court on Court biography written with George McCann, Madge adds the following strongly worded paragraph(p.64):

"Darlene stood twenty-five feet away from me at the presentation ceremony which followed on the stadium court. Iwas just as pleased, since I had no desire to talk to her. Darlene's behavior was inexcusable in a player of her caliber and experience.Or anyone else for that matter."

8) 1963 Federation Cup (f) Court won 63 60
9) 1963 Wimbledon (sf) Court won 63 63

10) 1963 Merion Grass Courts (f) Hard won 62 79 63

Court claims that she was suffering the after-effects of a sleeping pill. (p;135)

"We have played some wonderful matches against each other and there is a keenness about our clashes which I find makes me doubly determined every time we go on against each other" (p.136)

11) 1963 Eastern GC/Orange (f) Court won 61 61 in 24 minutes!
"I had the ball on a string throughout the match, and I'm afraid it was over before Darlene realised it had started." (p.136)

12) 1963 Pacific Southwest/Los Angeles (sf) Hard won 64 64

No mention of this match is made in the book!

H2H 1961-3: Court 9, Hard 3
Grass:Court 7-2
Clay: Court 1:0
Indoor (Fed cup played indoors on wood): Court 1-0
Cement: Hard 1:0
 

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This is a little off topic, but I just found out a interesting tidbit about Darlene Hard that I never knew.

I have been following the 2005 NCAA tennis championships and not only was Darlene Hard the first winner of the college Grand Slam in 1958 when she played for Pomona, she is still today the only collegiate NCAA singles winner to win a Grand Slam Singles title.

So say what you will about Darlene Hard, she was definitely a highly accomplished tennis player.
 

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Posted by Jakeev So say what you will about Darlene Hard, she was definitely a highly accomplished tennis player.
She sure was-and you have to think she was highly entertaining by all the letters defending her in World Tennis and other magazines. A lot of British fans wrote in after WT criticized her. Darlene was a hoot too one year at Hurlingham-where the women dressed up in hats and ankle length dresses a la the 1880s.

Thought his a funny story-ironic since Darlene often was charged with gamesmanship.

One year at Wimbledon she was playing another American who disrupted Hard and "would wait until Darlene was just about ready to serve, then would ask the umpire sweetly, "What's the score? This happened 14 times, but the 15 th time Darlene managed to get her serve in just as her opponent was about to pop the question. As the ball bounced, the sweet young thing asked: What's the score? Darlen replied: "It's my game,a nd now you know." :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter #14
1969 USO Doubles Final
Durr/Hard [2] d. Court/Wade [3] 0-6 6-3 6-4
----------------------------
Notes:
Darlene Hard, last seen in 1963-had a sensational and improbable doubles title with Frenchwoman Durr.

Losing by the lopsided score of 0-6 0-2,they staged a comeback that had the small but noisy crowd on their feet as Hard and Durr sharpened their net play and Court tired visibly.

Hard also got notice for her glam costume, a transparent organdie ballerina number trimmed with pink ruffles.

Gotta give Darlene credit where she deserves.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
May 19-31 1960 FRENCH CHMPS, Paris, FR (CL)
R16 Hard d. Lazzarino 6-4 3-6 4-5 ret. Abbas d. Kormozcy 4-5 retired
QF Bueno d. Lehane 6-1 2-6 6-3, Hard d. Schuurman 5-7 6-2 11-9
Reynolds d. puzejova 7-5 6-2, Rameriez d. Abbas 6-0 6-4
SF Hard d. Bueno 6-3 6-2, Rameriez d. Reynolds 8-10 6-3 6-3
F Darlene Hard d. Yola Ramirez 6-3 6-4

Doubles SF
Bueno/Hard d. Hawton/Lehane 6-3 7-5
Hales/Haydon d. Reynolds/Schuurman 6-2 6-3
F Beuno/Hard d. Hales/Haydon 6-2 7-5

#6 seed Darlene Hard survives a roller coaster ride to win the world's premier clay court event. No champion has ever had such a perilous journey with the exception of facing match points. Miss hard lost 3 sets and 66 games in her 6 matches-ironically her easist match was vs. World #1 Maria Bueno in the semis. She was only a game from defeat vs. Italian Lazzarion when Sylvana had to retire after becoming faint.
 

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Reported in World Tennis in October 1964:

The marriage of Darlene Hard to Frederick Shockley, which was scheduled for September 12, was cancelled. They had built a new home and had planned to move in on October 1.

Shortly after this Darlene became the resident pro for the Beach and Yacht Club at San Rafael, California.
 

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Thanks Chris for all the info about Darlene particularly about the Aus LTA. No surprise about their attitude towards her back then. A year later Madge copped it off them as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
1961 French
4R Buding[16] d. Hard[1] 6-2 6-3
Defending champ Darlene Hard put in a disgraceful performance vs. Buding in Rd 4. "Spectators wondered if she were ill. She hardly bothered to look at the ball. She hit feet over the baseline in all directions or into the net, as though she couldn't care less, and smiled happily all the way. One wonders what the committee of the French Championship, which paid handsomely for her presence, felt about this".
 
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