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Does anyone remember at the 1979 Wimbledon Championship which women's semifinal was played first?
The Chrissie vs Evonne or the Martina vs. Tracy?
 

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Does anyone remember at the 1979 Wimbledon Championship which women's semifinal was played first?
The Chrissie vs Evonne or the Martina vs. Tracy?
I don't know, but I know for 1980 first of all Evonne played Tracy and then Chris played Martina (on the following day, because of rain delays). In 1977, they put Wade v Evert on first, followed by Stove v Barker. I do not remember if there was ever any rhyme or reason as to the order (unlike in the US Open, for example). Knowing Wimbledon, they probably had some bizarre ritual whereby the oldest player was put on first, so it was maybe Chris v Evonne... There are some clips of Chris v Evonne in 1979 on YouTube as part of a Daze compilation, so you could maybe try to look at the time on the scoreboard...
 

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There are some clips of Chris v Evonne in 1979 on YouTube as part of a Daze compilation, so you could maybe try to look at the time on the scoreboard...
Thanks, great idea! :yeah:
It was 30-all in the opening game at half past three, so the Chrissie vs. Evonne match had to be the first one, if the semis were scheduled at 3 PM.

BTW the scoreboard was changed in 1979 a little bit with the clock. Till 1978 it didn't show the time. A few years later, in 82 there were installed the real Wimbledon scoreboard (for me) on the Centre Court (that new style scoreboard was in use on the Court One already in 1981, if I know well).
I hate the that LED-scoreboard from these days. :(
 

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Questions about some 70's youngsters who seemed have a lot of promise but never achieved great success:

Marcie Louie - began winning on the tour as a young teen. She was a little older than Chris Evert and achieved great junior success. In 1975, she defeated Margaret Court at the Family Circle Cup and then won the Canadian Open. She was ranked #14 in the first computer rankings that November. Then she seems to just fade. She's around for a few more years, but doesn't make any real impression. I wonder why.

Robin Tenney is another player who began to win as a young teenager (14/15). Yet, by her late teens she is gone. Her last Slam effort is 3rd qualifying loss at the 1977 USO. She had an older sister Laurie who quit about the same time.
 

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Does anyone remember at the 1979 Wimbledon Championship which women's semifinal was played first?
The Chrissie vs Evonne or the Martina vs. Tracy?
Martina vs Tracy was the first match played. She had a good first set and was actually serving for the set, but got what she considered to be a bad call. Martina took the game, her serve, the set and easily won the second set. But it is interesting to think what might have been... We all know the superiority of the Evert game over Austin on grass, but she was really in no fit psychological state to face Tracy in a Wimbledon final in 1979. Just think what might have been had Austin got to the final, won it -- and then won a second GS at Flushing Meadow?
 

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Discussion Starter #750
Evert discussed life on tour in the 1970s in this article from the Singapore Straits Times.

In a no-frills era, Evert drank water straight out of ball cans, Tennis News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

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Sporting Life

In a no-frills era, Evert drank water straight out of ball cans

by Rohit Binath. Assistant Sports Editor
Published
Oct 29, 2017

If you want to walk down the lanes of history, you get a legend as a guide. If you want to appreciate how far women's tennis has come, you hitch a ride with a champion in her time machine.

Someone like her, with 18 Grand Slam singles titles, who was the first woman to ever win the WTA Finals, then called the Virginia Slims Championships, in 1972.

Someone like Chris Evert.

Someone to remind us that the WTA Finals wasn't always manicures in the players' lounge, tickets to the Backstreet Boys and Porsches to drive you to the official hotel, which of course is free.

Today the WTA Finals champion is going to earn US$2,207,000 (S$3,012,810) while in 1972 the total prize money was US$100,000. Evert, 62, paid for her own hotels in those days and can't even remember the size of the cheque she got for winning. It was a long time ago when Elvis was still singing and Marlon Brando was mumbling in The Godfather.

You can't tell progress till you travel backwards. You can't appreciate the modern idea of entourages, travelling coaches and hitting partners, till Evert tells you about her first French Open final.

"Martina (Navratilova) and I, in our first French Open final (1975), warmed up together. And then had lunch together. And then played a match against each other. And I remember Martina, when we warmed up, she was serving and I was returning, and she goes, 'Do you want any more serves, Chris?'"
"Yes," Evert remembers telling Navratilova, "could you serve a few more wide to my backhand so I can practise that. She said, 'Okay'. She did whatever I asked her to do and vice versa.

Chris Evert tossing the coin before the start of the singles final at the 2015 WTA Finals. The American, who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, says she remembers using just one racket for an entire tournament.

"And then we had lunch. We had roast chicken, I will never forget that."

And then they fought for a Grand Slam title.

Young tennis players, who don't know these stories, might grow up thinking it was always like this: Fancy sports drinks at changeovers. New shoes whenever you want. Chairs to sit on with ballkids standing behind and holding umbrellas. Like ladies at some garden party.
By now Evert is gaily surfing down the shorelines of her memory, sitting on a Singapore couch but travelling into the early 1970s when they didn't just play in rougher conditions but also evidently had tougher bladders. Or as she says: "I never ever went off the court for a bathroom break in my 18-year career. How do you like that stat? That's better than any of my tennis stats."
But not in those early days, not for Evert. Did you even have chairs at changeovers?

"No, no, unbelievable. I don't know... what were we thinking. You got to rest." She pauses and says incredulously: "Didn't have a chair!"

Were you told that water causes bloating?

"Oh ya, ya, ya. My dad (coach Jimmy Evert) used to tell me, 'Don't drink too much water'. And we used to drink it out of tennis ball cans. Not even rinse them out, just put the water in and drink it."

By now Evert is gaily surfing down the shorelines of her memory, sitting on a Singapore couch but travelling into the early 1970s when they didn't just play in rougher conditions but also evidently had tougher bladders. Or as she says: "I never ever went off the court for a bathroom break in my 18-year career. How do you like that stat? That's better than any of my tennis stats."

One of the nicest parts about this event is the invitations extended to legends because every now and then in the corridors you collide with history wearing a little make-up. These are the epic ladies, the record-book writers, quicker with their smiles now but still armed with ego, stocked with stories and putting the present in perspective.

So Chris, physios on court in your time, carrying gauze and dental floss?
"No, no, no."
Pre-match food?
"Steak and baked potato."

Six rackets in a bag, all freshly strung in cellophane covers, to be changed at every ball change?

No way.

Evert carried three or four rackets, all strung with gut, and as she says: "I also never got my rackets restrung. It was like a novelty. None of my strings ever broke because we hit so flat. They always break with the spin. I would use one racket the whole tournament."

Time's running out, Evert has to go, but it's been a short, joyous ride into the past. Only when you listen to their lives do you understand the rapid creep of science, the progress in equipment and the fortune - and entitlement - of present players.

And by the way Chris, the winner's prize money in 1972 when you won the Finals, we checked it out. It was US$25,000. Only US$2,182,000 less than today
 

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Haha! I remember drinking water from tennis ball cans! Also, unless you have a gastro-intestinal problem or your ''Aunt Blood'' is visiting, bathroom breaks aren't necessary as your bladder usually shuts down when you're exercising at a high level.
 

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Discussion Starter #752
Found this article looking for info about Yvonne Vermaak-it shows how tough things were at the bottom of the tour. LOL about the cowboys in Idaho!

[From the New York Times]


Life on Women's Satellite Tennis Tour: Practicing at 6 A.M., Cookies and Soup

By NEIL AMDUR JAN. 25, 1977

PORT WASHINGTON, L.I.—In Portland, Ore., practice time was 6 to 8 A.M., if you were lucky enough to get a court. At the Hiawatha Hotel in Halley, Idaho, where Ernest Hemingway was supposed to have written several novels, there were communal bathrooms and showers. At the bar were freshly scrubbed cowboys and sheepherders.

Life on the women's professional tennis tour is not all large crowds and big money. For the 100 to 125 players trying to qualify for the big time as part of the Avon Futures circuit, the free cookies, orange juice, soups and pudding at the Port Washington Tennis Academy are the perfect answer for saving money.

The academy this week is the third stop on the futures tour, with the four semifinalists moving up to the Virginia Slims $100,000‐a‐week circuit for a minimum of two tournaments. But even before the 32‐player Avon draw began yesterday, 93 women were eliminated in qualifying matches, which ended on Sunday, and a pre‐qualifying tournament last week at this busy tennis complex.

There is no apparent bitterness among the women over their qualifying plight. They appear to be a more casual, closely knit group than the stars. They often share hotel rooms and taxis to save on expenses, eat out together, accept home hospitality when available and travel without the flashy Ted Lapidus sweaters or Gucci bags and belts.

Connie Pearson, a 28‐year‐old from San Francisco, has more tennis racquets than dresses in her travel bag. Yvonne Vermaak of South Africa has no winter dresses. Patti Shoolman won a match the other day wearing a white wool sweater and yellow warmup pants over a tennis dress.

“The first thing that struck me about the qualifying tour was how friendly the other players were,” said Jane Preyer, 23, a graduate of the University of North Carolina, who is a tour newcomer. “You hear stories about the higher ranks of competitive sports and how everything's pretty tense. The people here are very humble.”

It Could Be Better

There are differences between the circuits besides money and humility. The Slims tournaments are booked into the major arenas in large cities, where lavish cocktail parties often are as exciting as the tennis. The big excitement during the qualifying tournament in Hailey was when the sponsors passed out a bottle of champagne and a rose to each of the final 16 players, and cowboys bought beers to celebrate the birthday of Maricaye Christenson, the tour director.

“The social situation could be better,” said Miss Christenson, a Former player. “A lot of girls liked Halley because it was so different—quiet, no TV in the rooms, only one telephone in the whole place. The first night the cowboys were a little dirty around the place. But the next night they were all slicked out.”

There are other adjustments, as Cindy Brady learned one morning after practice last week, when she asked a waitress in a crowded coffee shop next to the Tennis Academy to change a glass of orange juice from large to small.

“You can't keep changing orders!” the waitress shouted, “All these men are trying to get to work. They don't have time to be out playing tennis like you girls.”

Molly Hannas, a vivacious 23‐yearold from Kansas City, was even more shocked when a woman sat on her during a rush‐hour ride from New York City on the Long Island Railroad.

“She said: ‘Move over, lady. It's dog eat dog,’ “ Molly recalled: moved over. I was so stunned I couldn't believe it.”

Basically, four circuits are operating on the women's tour: Virginia Slims, the major leagues; Avon, so‐called Class AAA; qualifying, Class AA, and pre‐qualifying, Class A. Only a few players from qualifying events have ever reached the main circuit, but Patti Shoolman is making a big effort this week.

Quits College to Play

The 18‐year‐old Miss Shoolman left her sophomore year at Trinity (Tex.) University over the Christmas vacation “because I wanted to improve my game and play on the circuit?’ She paid the $25 entry fee for the pre‐qualifying event at Port Washington (anyone may enter, as long as she pays the fee and passes the sex‐chromosome test), won three matches, swept three more in the 64‐player qualifying tournament and then won her opening match in the Avon draw yesterday by beating Racquet Giscafre, 6‐3, 6‐3.

Miss Shoolman, from Rochester, decided to become a pro this week because of her improving fortunes. She received no money from the qualifying events, but is guaranteed $400, even if she loses in the next round. For her to play in the same tournament as Christ Evert and Martina Navratilova, however, she must, win two more matches, against tougher opposition, for a total of nine over the two‐week period.

“This format may see the beginning of depth to women's tennis,” said Miss Christenson, who began coordinating new pre‐qualifying and qualifying events this week for 128 players at the Sound Shore Indoor Tennis Club in Port Chester, N.Y. “There have been some tremendous matches in the qualifying, and it's got to toughen up the girls for the Slims circuit.”

A $25,000 tournament at Palmetto Dunes, S. C., with a $9,000 top prize, will wind up the futures circuit in mid March. But most players can worry only from week to week, especially. over point totals that determine their spots in the draw, practice times and inconsistent taxi fares that they say. range from 75 cents to $2 in Port Washington, depending on the mood of the driver.

“It would be great if Patti could go all the way on her first try,” Jane Preyer said. “It would be a big boost for all of the girls on the qualifying tour.”

No one has ever gone from a prequalifying event to the big leagues. But, then few players spend their time hitting tennis balls while the rest of the country sleeps.

“Did you ever try. getting up at 5 o'clock in the morning to practice?” Molly Hannas said. “Try it sometime.”
 

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Discussion Starter #754
I loved the ‘someone sat on me’. Sounds like daily BART in SF!
LOL.

My favorite: “You can't keep changing orders!” the waitress shouted, “All these men are trying to get to work. They don't have time to be out playing tennis like you girls.”
 

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An article about life on tour in 1977. The author is one of my favorite tennis writers.

From the Washington Post

Social Variety Is Slim On Women's Tennis Tour

By Barry Lorge

April 17, 1977

On the last day of the recent 11-week Virginia Slims women's tennis circuit, the players presented their second annual "Tribute to the Tour" cabaret. It was a Sunday evening in Philadelphia, so what else was there to do?

Betty Stove played the role of the "Virginia Slims Girl." Her costume: a Teddy Tinling spangled tennis dress, two fur coats (Chris Evert's fulllength fox, with a fitch jacket over it), Gucci shoes, enough gold necklaces and diamond bracelets to stock Tiffany's front window, and an ice pack on the right knee.
She carried a tennis-racket, a backgammon board, a matched set of designer luggage, a blow dryer, a cassette tape player and three dogs on a leash.
"In short," said promotional director Jeanie Brinkman, "everything that is most symbolic of the circuit."

Well, not quite everything.

While it was easy to symbolize the affluence of the tour, the physicality, the diversions that fill huge chunks of idle time, it is not so simple to depict the intangibles that are as much the essence of this life-style: bluesy nights alone with the TV and a room-service meal, massive insecurity, the occasional head-on collisions between highly competitive human molecules, stir craziness amid liberation, and an overwhelming sense of transience.
The public sees the glory and glitter of the tour -- the big paychecks, cast parties and limelight. But back-stage, there is hard work, tedium, anxiety and comradeship that falls short of camaraderie. Life on the tour magnifies both hope and despair. And there is the inescapable realization that the players' common bond is also the wrench between them: all want what only a few can have.

"People who play tennis as a past-time think there could be nothing more fun or more glamorous than traveling around playing tennis for a living," says Brinkman, who has lived the tour for three years without ever revealing her backhand. "But for the professionals, it is a business. It is not a release from tension. It is the tension."

Like barnstorming with a circus troupe, the tour is an unusual way of life -- enriching, but not without wear and tear on the psyche and the soul.
"In a lot of cities, all you see are the arena and your hotel," notes Julie Heldman, 31, one of the tour pioneers who has retired to write and do TV commentary.
"You play at ungodly hours. Your life revolves around the tournament. You plan your meals and schedule around matches. You practice, play your match, wait around until someone else finishes theirs, and go to the hotel. You live, in effect, the life of a traveling musician: gigging.

"It is a toughening process as you learn to get along on your own. You make your own travel plans, arrange your practice courts and partners.You learn to have a public image and a private self, to get along with glad-handers, to keep your temper when you feel like exploding all over everybody."
For those who have the ambition and competitiveness bubbling within, there is the compulsion to try . . . and to keep trying until they reach whatever level passes for success, or until the ugly slag heap of failure grows so large that self-deception is no longer possible.

"It's like any other type of life that's off the beaten path. If it's in your system, the only way to get it out is to do it," says Kristien Shaw, 25, who once wanted to be No. 1 but is now content to do her best and make as much money as she can for a couple of years before settling down with her husband, Rick, a marketing executive for Faberge in New York.

As Kristien Kemmer, she was voted the most improved player on the Slims circuit in 1973, but slumped badly and nearly quit tennis altogether after being married in November, 1974. "In many ways, it's an easier life, emotionally, for a married woman than a single, but the most difficult is the transitional period when you're starting married life and want your husband with you all the time," she says.
She is again playing well enough to have reached the final playoff for the top eight Slimmies in New York the last week in March, and is secure in the knowledge that a more conventional life awaits when she retires.

In the meantime, Shaw persists in an existence that admittedly makes her high-strung."I wish people would understand," she says, "that when we do negative things -- whether it's yelling at lines-people, or being rude about signing autographs before a match, or not having enough time for everyone --it's basically because we're normal people who are striving to do something, and we don't know until we go through the process if we can achieve it, and we get very nervous, uptight, and release these anxieties in ways we sometimes later regret." "The least enjoyable part of the tour is that you do the same thing every day for three months," says Mima Jausovec, a bright, 20-year-old Yugoslav who has played Slims tournaments for three years.

"Off the court, it is difficult to have close friends. Unless you know somebody in a city, usually you don't do anything. The best is to go maybe to a nice restaurant or a movie. Otherwise, you sit in the hotel.

"If you are winning, it is O.K. But if you are not playing well, it is very hard."

"I think it is the same in acting, modeling, sports, any career where the image is much glossier than the reality," says Shaw.
"The sameness of the tour used to drive me bananas," says Julie Heldman, the witty, vivacious Stanford grad who tends to monopolize conversations with a mixture of solid stuff and junk reminiscent of her tennis.

"Some of the girls are very heavy into the 'soaps' on TV. Some are into movies. Last year, the national pastime was backgammon; this year, it's a game called 'Mastermind.' A lot of the younger girls read Hollywood romances. Mysteries and pulp are very big. There's almost no political activity, tennis or otherwise, because taking a stand requires effort.There are very few readers of serious books on the tour."

Virginia Wade, 31, a graduate in math and physics from Sussex University in England and a lady of cultured tastes, said that life on the tour tends to have its limitations.
"Often you can't do what you'd like to do in strange places, especially since many of them are not the most exciting places," she says.
"The least enjoyable aspects are living out of a suitcase and having time you can't use constructively. But obviously it's worth it or we wouldn't be here. The most enjoyable part is the purpose of the whole thing -- to play and get as much personal satisfaction as possible out of the actual tennis and your own involvement."
The intellectuals and Renaissance women of the tour are, for the most part, older. Wade, for example. Heldman. Betty Stove, 31, president of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), who speaks and reads weighty novels in four languages, listens to pop music on the radio but saves her casette player for Beethoven and Brahms. Julie Anthony, 29, who periodically drops off the circuit and slips back to UCLA, where she is completing her doctoral dissertation in clinical psychology.
The average age of the players on tour is dropping, and the new breed is more singleminded about tennis. Billie Jean King calls Chris Evert "the first-generation true professional."

The champions carry their commitment to a level the mediocre masses can barely comprehend.

"What irritates me is that most of the women don't work nearly as hard as they think they do," says BJK, who has low levels of tolerance for laziness and might-have-beens. "They don't get totally involved in the sport. They should read history books, know every old player, understand why tennis is where it is today. They should have a sense of history."

King, who did more than anyone else to build the pro tour that gives women the opportunity to make a living as tennis artists, says she has wearied of the life-style.

"I don't like dead time," she says. "Before, we were working to build the circuit and start the WTA, so I was busy doing something all the time. Now I get antsy.
"The system now is what I wanted it to be when I was a youngster. If I was 18, I'd think it's the greatest. I would be happy to be at the courts all day. But that's not where my life and my mind are anymore."

Still, King has come back. She underwent her third knee operation in November, and three weeks ago she began playing tournament singles again.
The art is in her blood. "I still love tennis, the thrill of making a great shot," she says. "I love entertaining, the feel of the crowd responding."
Ego is an essential ingredient, but manifests itself in different ways. King and Evert are very different leading ladies.

"Billie Jean was a magnet, attracting and repelling with strong force," says Brinkman. "The tour used to fluctuate with her. If Billie was on a rampage, tension was high. If she was happy, everyone was.

"It was never tranquil with Billie around, but it took her personality to make the sport. She made women's tennis, and she didn't do it by being docile.
"No one dominates like that anymore. On the court, yes. Chris dominates. But in the locker room, she's just one of the girls. She works hard at not being a prima donna."
"They've had different tasks," says Shaw, who has been close to both. "Chrissie doesn't like to be an outspoken leader, and Billie Jean always has been one. She has been able to take challenges head-on and likes conflicts. Chrissie avoids them.
"Billie Jean likes people to know she's in the room. She's always had that air, and that's one reason I broke away from her -- when you're with Billie Jean, you're always second. Chris is less conspicious."

King was in many ways a polarizing force, and her initial retirement coincided with a new era of good feelings on the tour. There are currently no political hassles to speak of, intramural or with the tennis establishment.

The tour is a living example of women's lib without substantial feminist rhetoric.

"These women are athletes, not crusaders," says Brinkman. "Their life-style speaks for them. They are liberated women. They don't have to break out of the kitchen. They aren't shackled by kids. They make more money than most men. They have nothing to scream about." There are no ideological battles being fought right now."

Like the tour itself, the players' cabaret is becoming more professional, painstakingly rehearsed and elaborately costumed.
Martina Navratilova and Rosemary Casals, in shocking pink tights and rose-and-yellow tutus, were ballerinas in "Swan Lake." Chris Evert, in Groucho Marx garb, played a director auditioning acts, a la "Chorus Line." "Virginia slims Kazoological Society Band of America" tooted its rendition, dedicated to players with nagging injuries, of "Ankles Away."

The kazoo band was formed in Minneapolis the fourth week of the season, when a chill factor of 86 degrees below zero discouraged nonessential ventures outside the hotel.

Rosie Casals -- who, despite her image as a strident, cranky libber, is probably the most popular woman on the tour -- bought 10 of the instruments to provide a diversion from watching snowflakes.

There is a sorority-like trendiness in the tour. Players, wittingly or not, imitate each other in the clothes they buy, books they read, music they play. Francoise Durr several years ago brought a pet dog, the racket-carrying airedale, "Topspin," on the circuit. Last year, no less than a dozen players toured with canine companions.

What makes this sorority different, however, is that the women form few truly close relationships. They are brought together by a common obsession and shared experiences on the road, but because they are competitors they are careful to keep their distance.
"The girls run in their own circles because they want to be with people who understand what they're doing," says Shaw. "But you don't open up that much to any one particular person because it's then going to be difficult to play her on the court. You reserve yourself and let very few people know you completely."
Evert and Navratilova were fast friends until Martina started beating Chris and became a threat. Then Evert resumed her old aloofness.
Many of the women on the tour speak of a kind of sexual claustrophobia because, for a number of reasons, there are few men around.
"It's not a natural society," says Heldman. "The male players bring their women on the tour, but the women don't bring their men. After awhile, you go bonkers."
"In our society, the traveling lifestyle is much rougher on women than men," says Brinkman. "Its acceptable for unescorted men to go into a bar or restaurant and socialize, but not for unescorted women. That's why room service is so popular on the tour. When the women do go out, it's usually in large groups. Otherwise, your basic traveling salesmen come up and make conversation, and it's never a comfortable situation."
The only men traveling regularly with their wives on the circuit the last couple of years have been Barry Court, husband of margaret; roger Cawley, husband of Evonne Goolagong, and Dick Butera, newlywed-husband of Julie Anthony.

Some women do date on the circuit, of course. Evert likes to, but since practically every match she plays is the evening feature, it is often difficult. Last year in Washington she dated Jack Ford in a publicity stunt, but they genuinely liked each other and have stayed in touch.
Evert is now dating actor Burt Reynolds. During a tournament in Los Angeles in February, she was a fixture on the set where he was filming "Semi-tough." He attended all of her matches in the Slims Finals in New York. Badgered by the press for details of their relationship, Evert said, "Write anything you want; I'm not saying a word."

One suspects that the number of pets on the women's tour, a unique phenomenon in the world of athletes on the road, represents a surrogate for dating as well as latent maternal instincts. "I'm not that well acquainted with all the dogs," says Shaw, "but I'm sure they serve as sympathetic ears."
There is some lesbianism on the circuit, but it is probably no more pronounced than homosexuality in society as a whole. It is a subject often hinted and snickered at by outsiders, but seldom discussed within the sorority.

What Grace Lichtenstein said in "A Long Way, Baby," her 1973 book about the tour, still applies: "Lesbianism was one particular subject that was off limits, even though a small percentage of the players were gay and the others knew which ones they were. When the matter was brought up, it was sometimes among straight girls who gossiped about the gays behind their backs."

As sexual mores change, the social life of the tour undoubtedly will, too.

"Even now, we're starting to get a few groupies," says Brinkman. "One showed up after a press conference for Chris Evert, said he was a reporter but was late because he had been in an auto accident. I felt sorry for him and set up a phone interview. It turned out that all he wanted was a date with her. She very politely hung up on him.
"It will be interesting. In five years.I wouldn't be surprised to find groups of boys at the locker room door, screaming for locks of hair."
 

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What a great read. Thank you Rollo.
I wish they would have talked to sue barker and a few others as well. And video of that cabaret! I’ve seen photos of Chris in the groucho get up, but nothing else.
I only wish Minneapolis in the winter on my worst enemies (and Lleyton Hewitt, of course).
 

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Discussion Starter #758
Found a nice article about Le Antonoplis, the 1977 junior Wimbledon champ. She looks happy and content in life.


https://www.ubitennis.net/2018/07/girls-champion-lea-antonoplis-memories-remain-strong-forty-one-years/


For Girls’ Champion Lea Antonoplis – Memories Remain Strong After Forty-One Years

Lea Antonoplis returned to Wimbledon, with her husband, Ken Inouye and their daughter, Kristina, over four decades after winning the Junior Girls’ championship…

Published 08/07/2018
By Mark Winters




Looking back at the events that took place forty-one years ago, one thing is abundantly clear – the world was dramatically different. In 1977, Jimmy Carter became the US President. Soon after taking office, he pardoned those who had opted out of the Vietnam War by avoiding the draft. In the Middle East, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat became the first Arab leader to visit Israel, meeting with Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The home computer became a reality. The same year, optical fiber was used to transmit television programs for the first time.
In the world of music, the Supremes performed their last concert in London and so did Elvis Presley, but in Indianapolis, Indiana before dying at his Graceland mansion, later in the year, at the age of forty-two. Led Zeppelin set a record when 76,229 spectators attended the group’s concert at the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan.
At the All England Lawn & Tennis Club, Virginia Wade put on a record-setting performance in 1977. She established a standard that has yet to be surpassed. Nine days before her thirty-second birthday she defeated Betty Stöve of the Netherlands, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 to win the Ladies’ singles title in the Centenary Year of The Championships. She was the last British woman to loft the Venus Rosewater Dish.
Forty-one years ago, Lea Antonoplis (now Lea Inouye) also put her name in the Wimbledon record book. The 18-year-old from Glendora, California, was a last-minute addition to the draw. Yet, she played her way to the Girls’ singles title, downing fellow American, Mareen “Peanut” Louie, 7-5, 6-1 in the final.
The semifinals was a test for both youngsters. Antonoplis edged Anne Smith, the US talent who had won the Roland Garros’ Junior Girls’ title, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Louie was extended to three sets before defeating Sylvia Hanika of Germany, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. (In a historically significant quarterfinal victory, Antonoplis routed Claudia Casabianca of Argentina, a player with one of the game’s most theatrical names, 6-2, 6-2. In September, Casabianca would go on to win the US Open Girls’ Junior championship,)
Antonoplis, an athletic serve and volleyer, was the “Greek Freak” (at 5’5”) before the moniker was bestowed on the 6’ 11’ Giannis Antetokounmpo of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Blessed with an effervescent personality and an ever-present grin, she had uncanny quickness and hands as skilled as a surgeon’s. Her fiery, bold skill set was highlighted by an ability to play superbly with the Wilson T2000, a racquet that very few players – other than Jimmy Connors – could use to their advantage.
She remembered, “I started playing with the T2000 in late 1975 and used it at both my Junior Wimbledons. It was very heavy (compared to today’s racquets) and powerful. Since I was a serve and volleyer and a pretty flat hitter, it added power to my strokes. It was definitely a big help on the grass.”
Commenting on her good fortune to slip into the 1977 Wimbledon Junior Girls’ championship, she admitted, “I almost didn’t play. I was the first alternate on the US Junior Team. Peanut (Louie) and Anne (Smith) were chosen to play. So, the first week of Wimbledon, I played the Ladies’ tournament and got to the fourth -round and lost to Sue Barker in straight sets. I had a great tournament. But, on the middle Saturday, I was told a player had dropped out and I could play Junior Wimbledon. I moved to the dorms just like the year before. I still had no family with me and no coach to help out. But, once I got into Junior Wimbledon, Sue Bodnar, a lady that I housed with during the Easter Bowl, (when it was played in New York), decided to fly over and watch.”
As Frank Sinatra sang in his epic hit song “Young at Heart” – “Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you… If you’re young at heart…”
Always young at heart, Antonoplis played The Championships for the first time a year earlier. “In 1976, I went alone to Wimbledon – No family, no coach, no close friend,” she said. “My family couldn’t afford to go, so they just put me on the plane. Mike Meissenburg, a close friend who I had known since I was twelve, had played the summer circuit in the England, and told me about a place to stay. It was a B&B – the Beaver Hotel – in Earl’s Court near the Queen’s Club. It was great because I could be near the practice courts and the tube. It was also a place I could afford. I stayed there until the end of the first week and then I moved to the dorms where they were housing the Junior Wimbledon players.

“Since my first Wimbledon was a little intimidating and overwhelming, I can’t say I remember that much about playing Natasha (Chmyreva of Russia). I do recall that she was physically imposing and had gotten to the fourth-round in the Ladies’ tournament, so I didn’t think I could win our quarterfinal match. We played on the court in front of the big clock and it was packed, because she was a big deal and I had made a name for myself by getting to the third-round of the Ladies’. Many people thought it would be a good match.”
The Russian won, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2, but the result really belies Antonoplis’ “it was pretty good” comment. She continued, “It was hard to break her serve, it was just like my match with Martina (Navratilova) in the Ladies’ event. Two matches later, Natasha won Junior Wimbledon for the second year in a row. That final was the last match she ever played at Wimbledon. I never got to know her because they kept Natasha pretty secluded. This was right after Martina had defected and the Russians clamped down on Natasha. She stopped playing in 1978.”
(An aside is needed because most tennis fans have no idea who Natalia “Natasha” Chmyreva is or how extraordinarily talented she was. In 2014, Natalia Bykanova, an outstanding Russian tennis journalist and a long-time personal friend, wrote a detailed story about Chmyreva titled “The Champion That Tennis Lost.” In it she describes how a one-of-a-kind talent, whose career came to an end after reaching No. 13 in the world as a teenager, was literally brought to “heel” by the old Soviet system. It is a must read – Natalia Chmyreva | Tennis Buzz)
As mentioned, Antonoplis made “a name for herself” when she lost to Martina Navratilova 6-1, 6-4 in the third round of the Ladies’ competition at Wimbledon. “Martina was always a gracious person and I got to know her as a player and later, I worked with her when I was on the WTA board,” the former Junior Girls’ Wimbledon winner said. “Since it was so hard to break Martina’s serve, playing her was about holding your own serve. If you didn’t serve well and didn’t get into the net, you couldn’t win. For me, playing Martina was ‘who could get to the net first?’ She had a bigger serve than me and was quicker, so my odds of winning, like everyone else’s, were low.”

Her Wimbledon success made 1976 very special, but there was more to come. “I came home and because I wasn’t a pro or a member of the WTA, I played all the summer junior tournaments,” Antonoplis recounted. “Since I was already in the US Open singles, I needed to play a warm-up tournament and I decided to go to the Tennis Week Open in Orange, New Jersey. Most of the players boycotted (the event) because Renée Richards had entered. A lot of low ranked pros and juniors played. No one in the Top 50 for sure. But, the press was there in force. I got to the semis and that is when I played Renée.”
The 17-year-old triumphed 6-7, 6-3, 6-0. Looking back on the encounter, Antonoplis said, “I can still remember playing that match like it was yesterday. She was so nice. There was no way to think of her as a villain, like the press was making her out to be (and the WTA was too). She was so soft spoken and intelligent. I never felt nervous about playing her, plus after watching her matches, I knew I could win. After I did, the WTA and the press started changing the narrative. They said that if a junior could beat her, then Martina and Chris (Evert) could for sure. Then, they let her into the US Open a few weeks later. She was well liked by almost everyone, and I credit her for raising the awareness of women’s tennis that needed a boost at that point to move forward.”
Though Marise Kruger of South Africa defeated her 6-3, 6-2 in the singles final, Antonoplis, besides admitting that she is still in touch with Richards, added, “I must say that was the most incredible summer of my tennis career.”
Having drawn attention at The Championships, the year before, her “she’s a player with a future” creds were validated when she reached the fourth-round in Ladies’ play, losing to Sue Barker of Great Britain at Wimbledon in 1977.
“When I got into the tournament, the adidas representative, (Claus Marten), came to me and asked if I thought I could win Junior Wimbledon and I said, ‘Yes’,” Antonoplis recalled. “So, I was given outfits to wear for the whole tournament. I never before had a clothing sponsor. It was super cool to be a kid and get that much stuff – clothing, shoes, bags, sweats, everything. It sounds funny today with all that players are given at such a young age, but it was really big then.”
Playing for a championship, as prestigious as Wimbledon, can be both exciting and nerve-racking. “Before our final, Peanut and I were moved to the Center Court waiting room before going to play on Court 1,” Antonoplis said. “Virginia Wade and Betty Stöve were also in the waiting room. It was amazing to see how nervous Virginia, who was about to play the biggest match in British history, was. There was a Ficus tree in the room and she was pulling off the leaves as she paced around. I was just amazed to be in there with them.”
Inspired by “the act of adidas believing in me” and having Claus (Marten) and Sue (Bodnar) watching, Antonoplis was on a mission. “I really wanted to win for them,” she said. “We played next to Centre Court and it was really noisy with every point Virginia won. We finished about twenty-minutes before they ended, and I got to see the last game and watch everyone sing ‘For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow.’ The Queen, who was celebrating her Silver Jubilee, and Margaret Thatcher were there. It was one of the more memorable moments I have ever seen at Wimbledon. That day was one of the greatest of my life.”
(Tennis administrators are a breed unto themselves. This was very apparent in 1977 when the USTA selected Louie and Smith to play the Wimbledon Girls’ tournament and made Antonoplis a US alternate though she was higher ranked than they were and would finish the year as the No. 1 junior in the world.)
Thatcher is part of another recollection. “I remember being picked up (for the Ladies’ tournament) by the Wimbledon transportation service,” Antonoplis said. “Everyone around my B&B (the Beaver Hotel) was amazed. At that time, the cars dropped you off right in front of the steps that lead to Centre Court entrance. I felt like a queen because all the fans watched to see who would get out of each car. In 1977, I was in a car coming into the grounds and there was a Bentley in front of us. Margaret Thatcher got out and stood on the steps for a minute. I got out and was right next to her for fifteen seconds. That couldn’t happen today.”

Analyzing her career, she offered, “I think I played my best tennis from 1976 to 1985. After that, I had ‘off and on’ injuries that made it hard to stay in shape. I was a serve and volleyer, with a good backhand. As I lost foot speed with age and injuries, my singles game dropped off and I played a lot of doubles with a lot of success. I made it to the WTA Championships in New York one year and was seeded at the Grand Slams. I played with Barbara Jordan mostly.”
After playing intercollegiate tennis at USC, she became a regular on the pro tour. Following her retirement, she spent a couple of years coaching Alycia May, (a talented junior from Beverly Hills, California, who competed at UCLA for season, before joining the professional ranks). When May stopped playing, after two years, Antonoplis was approached about becoming the Head Professional at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club. She took the job, and the rest is history…
“I taught at lot of people including Hollywood movies stars and million-dollar financial advisors,” she said. “After two years, I wanted to make a change and one of the financial advisors offered me a job. I took it and have been a financial advisor for twenty-four years. I always loved studying the stock market. As a teenager, I would spend a lot of time reading about companies and investing. I started buying my first stocks when I was 18-years-old. I still enjoy it today. I think having to make quick and educated decisions while playing tennis gave me confidence to help others decide on their investments. I trust my instincts and my research. Tennis gave me the confidence to do that.
“This Wimbledon will be the first time I have come to the tournament since I retired in 1989. I played singles, doubles, or both from 1976 to 1989. So, it’s forty-one years since I won Junior Wimbledon and twenty-nine years since I last attended the tournament, and I am really looking forward to it.”
Additional Wimbledon memories are sure to ensue as Lea Antonoplis Inouye, shares her “look back” adventure with her husband, Ken and daughter, Kristina.
A visit to The Championships is guaranteed to do that.
 

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