Madelyn had little in common with her in-laws, but she says it was Pancho who kept them at a distance. He told Henrietta that the only family he had then was Madelyn and their daughters.
In truth, winning was his pride and joy. After beating Hoad 51-36 in 1958, Gonzalez spent the next few years dispatching all comers: Ashley Cooper, Mai Anderson, Rosewall, Olmedo, Andr�s Gimeno, Barry MacKay. He retired in 1961, at the end of his contract with Kramer, then returned for a humiliating first-round loss to Olmedo at the U.S. Professional Grass Court Championships at Forest Hills. There, after cautioning reporters not to write him off, Pancho took Madelyn's hand and sat while his eyes filled with tears.
In '63 Gonzalez coached the U.S. team to the Davis Cup final, against Australia, in Adelaide. The team arrived Down Under in mid-December, and, says Dennis Ralston, one of the U.S. players, "Madelyn would refuse Pancho's collect phone calls." According to Ralston, she was angry at Pancho because he wouldn't be home for the holidays. (Madelyn says she doesn't recall this.) "She wouldn't let him talk to his kids at Christmas," Ralston says. "He'd slam the phone down and take four or five drinks."
Gonzalez headed home before the matches began. "Trying to keep peace in the family," he said in a TV interview.
When he felt like it, Gonzalez could turn on a radiant charm. He made room in his life to tutor young U.S. players such as Ashe, Cliff Richey, Pasarell and Ralston, who all held him in awe, but his generosity often lost out to his rage. On that same Davis Cup trip to Australia, Gonzalez and Ralston were playing a practice match in front of some 1,500 people, five dollars a set. Ralston lost the first 6-4 and said playfully, "Double or nothing, but you got to give me a game and the serve."
Gonzalez glared at him. "Get out the way you got in, punk," he said. Ralston went up 4-0, and Gonzalez gathered his rackets. "Listen, you son of a bitch, you crybaby, all you do is cry," he snapped at Ralston. Then he walked off the court. The crowd heard it all.
"I was heartbroken," Ralston says. "This was my idol. There was a party that night at the U.S. ambassador's, and I didn't want to go. Pancho came over and apologized: 'I'm sorry, kid; I just lost it.' "
In 1965, 17-year-old Richard Jr. gave his father some bad news: Richard's girlfriend was pregnant. Richard expected anger, disdain—anything but what happened next. Pancho began to cry. He wrapped Richard in his arms and held him close, tears streaming down his cheeks. Richard had never seen his father weep, and he thought Pancho was looking back at his own life, at his marriage to Henrietta and the son he'd had at 20, the son whose life had now changed for good. Richard had never known a moment like this.
It would be another 30 years before he got that close to his father again.
The boy was hungry. He knew few people in London on that June day in 1969, and he was alone and far from home. His mother would've told him to eat, to spend his 50 pence of dinner money, but Vijay Amritraj had no intention of eating. Pancho Gonzalez was playing at Wimbledon that evening, and the 15-year-old Amritraj knew he had to be there. As a rising junior player in India, poring over newspaper stories and photos, Amritraj had worshiped Gonzalez without ever having seen him play. Stomach growling, he spent the 50p on a standing-room ticket for Centre Court.