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The rivalry between Billie Jean King & Margaret wasn't like Chris/Martina or Moncia/Steffi - IT WAS WORSE!!!

Both players really disliked each other, despite the number of times they tried to downplay the "feud". Margaret Court was old school. She would have continued playing as an amateur and getting under-the-table money had Open tennis not arrived in 1968. She was not a risk-taker nor a feminist. A very religious and traditional-minded woman.

Billie Jean King was the opposite. Well sort-of. She also refused to identify as a feminist, but she was very determined to end the hypocrisy of "shamateurism" and bring tennis out in the Open. She really fought the tennis poobahs, who hated her guts, and eventually succeeded in her efforts when tennis went Open in 1968.

Later, Billie Jean fought a second battle getting women's tennis more exposure. Margaret Court never supported her in this. When she finally saw that the Virginia Slims women's tour was a success, she joined the tour and made a cool million dollars of it. Players like Evonne Goolagong and Virginia Wade were also in the same category, conservative & very proestablishment. Evonne, though, was more under the thumb of her then-coach, Vic Edwards, in the same way as Evert was controlled by her father.

Back in 1973, Billie Jean made the comment that the Court family was "Women's Lib" in action. Margaret was the breadwinner, travelling around the world. Her husband travelled with her, taking care of their son. This really got Margaret all riled up!! She responded that Billie Jean was jealous of her family life b/c she had had an abortion (in 1971) and was bitter about not having a family of her own. Meow!!

Court became a born-again Christian in the late-70s. Up to that point, she had been a very conservative Catholic. Virginia Wade said that Court was so conservative, she was opposed to the Second Vatican Council and she thought that the reforms introduced by the Church were a huge mistake. Needless to say, Billie Jean could not relate to this sort of thinking. And we are all aware of Court's homophobic comments directed at Martina Navratilova made in 1990.

In her 1988 book on women's tennis, Billie Jean said that there was no longer any frostiness between her & Margaret and that they enjoyed meeting each other at the many ceremonies & presentations they got to attend as former champions.

Btw, Maria Bueno never had a very good relationship with Margaret Court or Billie Jean either during the 60s & 70s.
 

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Wonderful thread, Rollo, and many thanks for starting it. I got turned on to tennis in 1971 when Chris raced to the semifinals as a 16-year-old, and I've been a huge fan -- and avid follower -- ever since. At the present, I am going through my old collection of tennis magazines, dating back to 1975 when I first discovered such things existed (I was raised on a farm in south Georgia!) I'm actually tearing out the stories I want to keep and tossing the rest, and I'll try to share a few as we go along.

One of the things that I much admire about the women of yesteryear is how hard they had to fight for the right to play for pay. (These spoiled players today have no idea about the sacrifice and commitment it took to create their multimillion dollar tour, which is why I get peeved when today's stars withdraw on a whim and demonstrate no commitment to the game.) What struck me as amazing today was a story I came across about Mima Jausovec, the little Yugoslave who won the French in 1977 and was runner-up to Evert there in 1983. It seems Mima wanted a European tournament staged at her club in Maribor, Yugoslavia, so badly that she went out and did TV commercials for money that was donated to her club, so it could fund the tournament.

Now that is dedication!
 

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Hi Jem:) . I remember Mima. I also agree with you about what a struggle it was in the 70s. I have heard BJK and Chris, Martina & Pam, say over and over that the stars these days do little to put anything back into the game. There are a couple of other great "retro" threads on the board. There is a picture thread which Evonne Goolagong-Cawley has posted the most marvellous pictures, and there is a thread called Ladies of the court where lots of people have put in 70s and 80s stories.

Zummi, thanks for filling me in on the Margaret/BJK rivalry. I have never liked Margaret.:(

Also thanks for the update on Larry and BJK.:)
 

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Discussion of BJK and Margaret Court inevitably leads to ......drum roll please,,,,,,,,, BOBBY RIGGS!!!! (aaargh). I have to admit that he is probably responsible for my initial interest in women's tennis. How he managed to defeat Margaret Court so easily and then be overwhelmed by Billie Jean confounds me to this day. Do you have these matches, tennisvideos?? I'd love to see those again. A TV movie about the whole Riggs "affair" was shown in North America last year and had Holly Hunter as BJK. Thought it was a fairly accurate depiction of those events given the constraints of the format. Despite his obviously selfish motives I think Riggs deserves a mention as a very important part of the history of women's tennis.
 

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Discussion Starter #26
I'll second everything Zummi said about in his last large post:) Reading the 4 or so books they came out with one gets the impression Court and King hated each others guts! It all started when the chubby litle California kid shocked the #1 seeded Court in the first round of Wimbledon in 1963. King refused to accept Marge's dominance, so they were bound to collide. Ditto for Cort and Bueno, because school-girl Margeret Smith ruined Bueno's bid at the 1960 Aussie title. Court knocked Bueno out of the #1 spot, Bueno got it back. Court returned to #1-King knocked her out. Court got it back it again, etc. When you're talking women's tennis in the 1960's, Bueno, Court, and King were the big 3.

It's ironic that Court later criticized Martina, they had several traits in common. Court was so physically imposing one of her nicknames was "The Arm". She was the first ever female tennis star to pump iron, even endorsing a product of women's weights(Princess Barbells). See any shades of Martina there? They shared one other trait according to women on the tour, being prone to nerves. Not on the scale of Novotna, mind you, but when compared to their rivals(King and Evert) it was thought the later had the upper hand. court never had the succes she should have at Wimbledon, where Ted Tinling said "she saw
invisible vultures over Center Court".
 

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Discussion Starter #27
For you Jem

A little on Mima from the book "Inside Tennis", by Peter Bodo. I REALLY give this book a "thumbs up". It covers the 1978 season, with in depth looks at Evert, Navratilova, King, Goolagong, Austin, Shriver, Wade, Ruzici, Borg, Connors, etc.
The author knows the game and it's full of stunning pics, some in color.

On Mima. Bodo calls her "one of the most affable women on tour". She and best friend Virginia Ruzici had to play each other in the 1978 French final. This was th ematch Richard Williams says inspired him to pick a tennis career for his daughter afte rhaering the winner got $35,000. "Ruzici is pounding her extraordinary forehand all over the court, swarming over the ball with her aggressive, spidery style. " At 5'3'' poor Mima is run into the ground. A close(but clearly out) line call comes in the second set. "Jausovec looks at Ruzici, but if her friend has any feelings about the ball, she keps them to herself. Jausovec just shrugs and walks to the baseline to recieve serve. The match is all but over. The contested point and Ruzici's failure to respond have left Jausovec hurt and bewildered. She loses 6-2 6-2."

It gets messy playing a friend.

There's a funny description of a Durr match at Eastbourne. 35 year old Durr tries all her tricks, but her opponent is also a vet. Francoise Durr's on court monologues are something else.

After a dropshot doesn't bounce on the grass. "I can see why tennis is dying here".

"Oh fuck it anyway! I don't know why I'm here. Chrees Evert will win this tournament for sure!"

After another bad bounce."Oh, give a good bounce, fucking English!".

On match point. "I never like grass".
But when she loses, Durr leaves the court smiling. Crowds loved her despite all her antics:)
 

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King v Riggs plus some more on Durr

Roscoe

Yes I have King-Riggs match. You can email me.

Rollo, thanks for the story about Durr at Eastbourne... she certainly was very funny indeed.

I mentioned briefly that I have been friends with her for a few years and have interviewed her etc. Well a few years back at the Aussie Open we were having a hit - I wanted to film some of her shots again for posterity. Of course all the crazy shots were still in their full glory. Well we could only hit for about 15 minutes as it was about 43 degrees celcius which is about 105 degrees! It was shocking. After our hit we went to line up for a cab, and Frankie must have had about 30 flies swarming around her. I didn't have any. Anyway, I said to her "It must be your Perfume" (knowing flies like scents). She replied "But I'm not wearing any" !!!! We had a good old laugh at that. Then she told me a few stories how she and Teddy Tinling were always swearing "Fucking Flies" everytime they came to Australia. She's a doll.

Anyway, there is a little story I wanted to share with you on one of my favourites tennis starlets from the past.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
Keep those Durr stories coming Tennisvideos. Tinling was some character too. If I could talk to only one person about women's tennis, he'd be it. Imagine knowing every great from Lenglen to Seles! His "bitch theory"(the idea that every #1 has to be more than a little on the selfish side) rings so true!

BTW, whatever happened to Durr's marriage? Kids? And do you have pics of the dog who used to carry her racquets on court?


I was wrong about King being Cathloic Zummi, She and Evert both mention the sense of a shared childhood, with lots of discipline and religion. King even wanted to be a missionary as a child. My old mind must have jumped from that to a shared religion:rolleyes:

As for the King marriage, by 1973 they both wondered jokingly why they didn't divorce. Larry was seeing some other female tennis player and BJK was sharing a room with her hairdresser/Girl Friday/ girlfriend Marilyn.
 

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Rollo

Frankie Durr is still happily married to Boyd Browning. Nice guy. He is upset that Frankie hasn't been inducted into the International Hall of Fame yet. She should have been.. she won the French Open in 67 as well as 11 Grand Slam Doubles titles (5 French Doubles in Succession with several different partners) and helped get French Womens Tennis to the level of success it now shares.

We have put a few submissions to the ITHF and they have nominated her but she hasn't been voted in yet. Will keep trying.

They have a teenage boy from Boyd's first marriage and a girl that Francoise had when she was in her mid 40s. I have a few pics of Frankie with her Dog "Topspin" carrying her racket! LOL So funny!

BTW, when I hit with Frankie, it was surprising how hard she hit! I mean her shots look so slow on video and TV but when you hit with her in the flesh, those shots carried some clout, so you can imagine how hard all the other players hit. And I play A Grade Mens in Sydney so it's not as though I can't play.
 

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Discussion Starter #31 (Edited)
I'm not surprised she hit hard. Like ballchange said, it ticks me off when it is suggested that Evert(or put another name in from the past) etc couldn't make it today. Well, of course not with wood racquets! But could today's power hitters beat then going back in time and having to play with wood? The errors would be horrible to watch. Everyone adapts to their time and era-and Evert, Navratilova and the 70's -80's crew had it tougher than most, going from small wood weapons to mid and large size metal in the middle of their careers. That alone proves to me they could adapt.

Thanks for all the Durr background tennisvideos:) She should certainly make the hall of fame!

I've remembered a couple of strange places the women played at. King, Durr, Jones, and Casals were with the men on a pro tour in 1968 and some arenas were very makeshift. One French site had a cement court that had been poured only the day or so before. The thing was, the dimensions were EXACTLY where the lines were. King says she they had to serve then hop up on to the court! :eek: Bet line calls were no problem!

The other odd venue was Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1971, the first full Slims tour. The "indoor" court was a converted barn with stringed bulbs for lights. They didn't return the next year.
 

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I wonder if anyone still has any videos of Morozova's matches. I doubt it though..
 

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Interesting to read the depth of the rivalries. However, from what I've read Billie Jean King had a genuine admiration for Maria Bueno. Bueno decided to make a comeback in the mid-1970's. I believe she made the Round of 16 at Wimbledon in 1976. In 1977, she returned and faced Billie Jean King in an early round and Billie Jean was emotional during and after the match. King won in straight sets but Billie Jean found herself holding back until she said that she couldn't get all choked up over playing Bueno and wind up losing the match. After the match, Billie Jean said "In her day she was so marvelous to
watch,...but it was painful to play her today. I wanted to remember her as she was." Bueno was quite classy, happy to be playing at the Championships, and responded "I have always loved tennis, and still enjoy playing. I've had my glory"
 

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ys - I do have a few Morozova matches on video. Unfortunately she loses both of the singles matches I have, but I also have her competing in a Legends event in 1995 - it was broadcast on TV in the States and the promoters sent me a tape. It included Navratilova, Evert, Austin, Durr, Morozova, Wade, Stove, Richey etc. Feel free to email me about it. :)

Rollo - thanks for the stories on the Womens Pro Tour! Wasn't that a classic about the cement court only being the dimensions of the court and having to step up to play! :eek: Hilarious.
 

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Go Billie Jean King!
 

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Discussion Starter #36
King could afford to be more charitable towards Maria than Court, as their careers didn't intersect so much due to Maria's many injuries and age. Poor Maria was hurt before the pro game got going, so she missed out on the big time money. In her day though, Maria was resented by many for demanding all the perks and "under the table" money she could get, which was a lot because of her popularity.

Women's finals in Rome during the 1960's often were played on back courts in front of crowds of 50 or so. When "La Diva" Bueno was on, she got center court and thousands came. The USTA could force King to play the US Nationals for free(ditto for Court in Australia), but Bueno was rumoured to get big bucks whereever she appeared.


Bueno on herself:

"To me, tennis was more an art than a sport. I was a very naturalplayer. Everything was done by impulse or intuition."

"I was never satisfied if I did not play beautifully. I was always going for perfect and the impossible shots".

Maria was famous for a gorgeous over the shoulder backhand overhead.

King on Court:

"Everybody loved to watch Maria because she was so graceful, even more balletic than Goolagong, I would say,because Maria had much longer, real showgirl legs.And she had magnificnet court presence. ..I mean, maria was a real star turn. She even kept herself aloof from the other players, whixh added to her aura, and along with her height and big serve, it helped her to intimidate the others. Althea Gibson had also been a lot like that when she played. She scarred all the girls" * Helen Wills was like this too, and I'd put Venus down as an "aloof" type*.

King continues: .."as far as tennis was concerned I never thought maria knew what was going on out there. She was a con, really, because it would have been blasphemy for anybodt to suggest that someone who looked so good might be lacking.
But in truth, Maria was pretty slow. As graceful as she appeared, Maria was somewhat knock-kneed, walked like a duck."

The "latin flair"added to her exotic appeal. When Maria and fellow Latin Olmedo won Wimbledon in 1959, the first dance, reserved for the men's and ladies champs, was a cha-cha-cha. For 50 years striaght it had been a waltz.

One woman who didn't care for Bueno once told Tinling(who designed so many of Maria's fab dresses): " No wonder Maria Bueno is so popular in England. She has a boy's legs and most Englishmen are fags anyway".
 

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Discussion Starter #38
Thank you for bringing that to our attention ys;)It made for interesting reading. Yes, poor Natasha was a victim, but so was Olga. After 1976 she never again played in a grand slam event, which is a shame. BTW, do you know where that first article came from? I have a Chmreva article from Tennis Australia, written in 1992 or 1993.
 

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I don't know. The guy who posted is here is not a frequent poster. We could ask him if he surfaces again. Could you post that article from Tennis Australia?
 
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