"Oh, I don't think that was it," Karen said to this, flustered.
"That certainly was it," Rod said. Karen's husband has the softest-looking brown hair imaginable, which makes it difficult to describe him as "bristling" but, in theory anyway. Rod bristles when he contemplates the efforts of the "certain elements" to break up his romance—efforts that extended even to the cloak-and-dagger point of keeping Karen's off-the-court whereabouts secret. Almost more upsetting to the courting couple was the fatherly advice they both received—Rod's a lot less gentle than Karen's. Karen reacts to questions about it all with a real fright, as though even now she and Rod could be separated, or swooped down upon and their tennis rackets snatched away. She doesn't like to talk about it. "Certain people did do things," she said nervously. "We won't mention any person's name. I mean, they thought they were doing what was right. I mean, I was young, I was 17. But you could come up to this tennis club and see Joe Nobody and Susie Nobody holding hands, or going together, and no one would care, and not that I'm in the limelight or anything, but as soon as they noticed I was interested in anything but tennis...." Her voice trailed off a little. Then, gathering courage, she went on, "Now I wonder how I ever let them do it. It's a natural thing, you don't spend all day looking at a tennis ball. But for some reason on the tennis circuit it's out of place. But it's natural, really."
Karen Susman obviously still suffers from the strain of having been told by an adviser of some importance that it was not permissible to fall in love and that she ought not to see Rod anymore. "And Karen agreed with him," Rod huffs. "Well, I kind of went along with him—no, I didn't," Karen struggles. "I'm polite, that's what it is."
Rod and Karen finally made their way through all this fuzz and were married last September after her third-round defeat in the Forest Hills tournament.
It was a small wedding, in San Antonio. Rod went back to Trinity University and Karen straight to housekeeping.
"We don't really know exactly what we'll do after Rod gets out of school," Karen said. "I think he'd like public relations, something like that, in business. Or just selling. He likes to sell. I think you have to work your way up," she said trustfully. "If I ever decide to go back to school I'd study to be a secondary-school teacher. I'd like to go to California. A lot of the kids there play tennis." For the moment, however, it's back to the house and the cookbooks. "I've got two I use," Karen says. "I traveled so much I never had to cook, but I do all of it now." Her first undertaking was meat loaf. "Really good, hm? It was an awfully rush thing. We were married on a Friday, and we went into Houston Saturday and Sunday for our honeymoon and Sunday night I said, 'Well, it's now or never. Let's have some meat loaf.' "
Karen has no hobbies—no time—but she admits to a suppressed passion for mosaics. "I love mosaic. I'd love to make one of those tables—have you seen them? But Rod won't let me. He doesn't think I'll finish it."
"Karen," Rod said to this, askance, "they might quote that. But how are you going to cart a 50-pound table around the country? What would you do with a 50-pound table?"
Rod's point is well taken, particularly since the Susmans hope to be traveling more, rather than less, for a while. Karen has never done the full tour, and since she has been married she has spent the school year at home, nine months out of 12. When Rod graduates they would like to have a go at the whole thing. "We plan to do it for about a year," Rod says. "If they still have a tour all year round." This will no doubt be all right with Karen, because everything is all right with Karen as long as she is with Rod (early this month she refused an invitation to Russia that could not include him), but she has said, "If you get into a routine of tennis 12 months out of the year, I don't see how you could want to go on playing." Also, Karen is not as strong as some of the beefier young ladies playing tennis. She does not play her best week after week after week. Since her victory at Wimbledon the young champion has been plagued by an injured thumb, and by Australia's Margaret Smith, who seems to have her jinxed; it may not be so much Margaret's game as a relentless stamina that Karen is not always able to match.
Whatever the case there, Karen Hantze Susman is a pretty girl who has won at Wimbledon and can make a good meat loaf. At 19, many girls would be content to sit down and rest on those laurels.