Well, Borg hadn't
won it yet. There was still Adriano Panatta out there with his raging band of
screaming Italian waiters over from the restaurants in Chelsea. There was still
the dark horse, Pat Dupre from Anniston, Ala., conquerer of Gerulaitis (6-3 in
the fifth set) and of Bob Lutz (8-6 in the fifth), not to mention being the
husband of Darcy Dupre, whose father helped found Jack-in-the-Box. Dupre ground
up Panatta and all the noisy waiters in a sizzling five-set quarterfinal but
was himself ground up by Tanner in an un-sizzling straight-set semi. By the
time he was through playing 264 games at Wimbledon—10 more than Borg in one
match less—Dupre was, shall we say, well done.
And, oh yes, there
was still a man named Jimmy Connors. Sssshhhh! That's Jimmy (The Quiet Man)
Connors who, if some kind soul had handed him a honker, could have communicated
a la Harpo Marx. As it was, Connors, angered by the seeding committee's
decision to rank him third, elected to stay away from the players' tearoom, to
pass through the locker room only to and from the courts and to say nothing to
anybody, not even his good friends, the press. "Blank the press,"
Connors announced to a club official shortly after Borg had—once again—beaten
him 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.
breathtaking question that went begging was why Jimbo had worn tassels—you got
it, tassels—on his socks in his match against Jean-Francois Caujolle but not in
his confrontation with Borg. Who cares? Listen, Connors needs anything he can
get nowadays, what with Borg bombing him on serve (11 aces), passing him at
will and making a joke out of their "rivalry" with straight-set
victories on clay (Boca Raton), cement (Las Vegas) and grass (Wimbledon).
the same player he was," said Ashe. "He doesn't walk around like he's
going to win anymore," said McEnroe. And this was before Borg hammered
Jimbo in their semifinal.
Jimmy," Borg said in reply to a question while flashing his biggest smile
of the week. "I'm in love with the guy." Honk if you love Bjorn,
Love was here,
there, everywhere in the women's draw. There was mother-love: Evonne Goolagong
Cawley accompanied by her infant daughter, Kelly. There was wife-love: the
former Christine Evert making her first appearance in the championships as the
spouse of British Davis Cup player John Lloyd. There was daughter-love:
defending champion Martina Navratilova in ecstasy over the arrival from
Czechoslovakia of her mother, Jana, whom she had not seen since her defection
in 1975. And, of course, everybody fell in love with Linda Siegel and Betty Ann
Stuart, two buxom California roommates who kept popping out of their dresses
and into the tabloids under headlines such as WIMBLEDON OR BUST.
Alas, the distaff
side was a total bust except for two shining moments, both made possible by
that old war mare, Billie Jean King. Along about sundown of Wimbledon's final
day, the 35-year-old Billie Jean at long last won her 20th All-England
championship (the women's doubles, in partnership with Navratilova), breaking
the record she held jointly with 87-year-old Elizabeth Ryan, who had collapsed
at Wimbledon 24 hours before and died on the way to a hospital.
Five days earlier,
King had taken center stage in a singles quarterfinal when she found herself
opposite Tracy Austin for the first time. B.J. and the Babe it was—a taut,
emotional struggle that one would tend to describe as a war had not the
contestants been a 16-year-old schoolgirl just out of braces and a
self-described "old lady" with Frankenstein scars for knees.
"Babycakes," King good-naturedly called Austin. "I want her,"
Austin said, sounding like a punk prizefighter, fleaweight division.
Austin got all she
wanted of King, who for two hours and two minutes threw every shot and
stratagem she had ever learned at a youngster who hadn't even been born when
King won her first Wimbledon title. Lobs and drops. Cuts and slices. Topspin,
both sides, all speeds. Serve and volley stuff. Still, Austin kept banging
everything back like a windup mechanical doll. Tough and steely, the kid
ignored the effects of losing a second-set tie-break and falling behind 2-0,
40-30 in the third. Instead, she bore it, started running King up to the South
Fields tube station and back and ultimately won the last six games and the
match 6-4, 6-7, 6-2.
ground-stroking was not enough, however, in her semifinal against Navratilova,
a match won by Martina 7-5, 6-1. Or was it won by Martina's mother? Sometimes
it was difficult to ascertain just who was responsible for the Czech woman's
victories, so intertwined were the mother and daughter in the joy of their