An even more pressing question at the beginning of the Slims tour this year than who was going to replace Evert on the court was, at least as far as Philip Morris was concerned, who was going to replace her at the gate. Evert, King, Goolagong, Wade and, lately, Richards, sell tickets, but mostly Evert and King do. The Slims people predicted a 10% drop in attendance without Evert, but after seven tournaments the decrease is only about 5%, and it could as easily be accounted for by bad luck and bad weather as by an absent Chris.
Foster recounts the disasters: "In Florida we had a windstorm that knocked a truck off the freeway. In Houston it was 23� and the radio was saying, 'Don't go out,' the words a promoter most hates to hear. And in Chicago it snowed all week. We had 50,000 in Chicago as it was, but we could have had at least another 12,000 if it hadn't been for the snow." Furthermore, Billie Jean lost in the first round in Washington and retired in the first round in Los Angeles—in each instance it hurt the gate in the remaining rounds.
Fortunately, Philip Morris is still happy with its Virginia Slims promotion, even though there are probably more households in America today where Virginia Slims means women's tennis than where it brings to mind a skinny cigarette. Obviously, women's tennis is healthy if a circuit like the Slims can lose its superstar and suffer only minor repercussions at the box office. So on—to Kansas City, Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia and Oakland—with the show.