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The hand that rocks the cradle
Barry McDermott
October 17, 1977
Also swings a racket, and Goolagong is busy getting herself back on the ball
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October 17, 1977

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

Also swings a racket, and Goolagong is busy getting herself back on the ball

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Goolagong was in surprisingly good condition. During her pregnancy, she had monitored her weight so well that a month before Kelly's birth, some acquaintances, assuming by her appearance that they must have missed something, were asking her "How's your baby?" Replied Evonne mischievously, "Still kicking." Some pregnant women get bizarre craving for certain foods; Evonne's was an insatiable desire for lemons, and she ate so many that her dentist warned her to stop eating them because the citric acid was affecting the enamel on her teeth. During pregnancy she gained only 14 pounds, and thanks to a running-exercise program instituted by Roger, she is now five pounds lighter—125 pounds—than her previous playing weight.

Goolagong and Reid had an easy time in the doubles, winning in three sets 5-7, 6-1, 6-4. Her opponent in the singles would be Reid, a gritty player familiar with Goolagong's game. Over the years they have had a series of tight matches and this would be no different. Goolagong won the first set 7-6, taking the tiebreaker 7-4, and her well-placed strokes had Reid so much on the go that it was she and not Evonne who first ran out of gas. With the spring in her opponent's legs gone, Evonne raced through the second set 6-3 and wrapped up the match. "Two weeks ago," said Roger, "Kerry would have beaten her 6-1, 6-1." "Judging by the way she played today," said Reid, "she'll be tough again by the beginning of the year."

For Evonne, the applause alleviated the sore muscles. "I'm getting keen about coming back," she said. "Losing at Toronto was good practice for me. That match just about killed me. I was exhausted. I think I went to sleep afterward. It made me realize how much I have to catch up. But it's a nice feeling to know you've worked so hard and you are gradually getting better. My life has changed so much now. I feel more of a whole person. I make a lot of decisions on my own and I'm happier for it. And Kelly is my joy. She weighs 20 pounds going on 40. I think that is where I get my strength from, carrying her around."

Later that afternoon, Goolagong and Bjorn Borg played a mixed-doubles match against Roscoe Tanner and Reid, losing 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Two matches in one day were a bit much and it showed in her singles finals the following day when Evonne met Virginia Wade. She had not lost to Wade since 1975 but in the third set she tired badly and Wade won 6-4, 6-7, 6-3. Evonne was happier in defeat than she had been in some time. "To win one set off the No. 2 woman in the world is fantastic," she said.

"We didn't think Evonne could do something like this for three more months," added Roger.

For the future, Goolagong will keep practicing, then return to her native Australia for tournaments in November and December, culminating with the Australian Open. After that she will play the Virginia Slims circuit. Whether she ever again will be No. 1 is a matter to be thrashed out with her family as well as with Chris Evert, but her composed performance at Hilton Head indicated that she is not quite ready to retire to the kitchen.

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