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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.
The one 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).
"Connors isn't 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.
"I like 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, Jimbo.
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.
Austin's perpetual 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 reunion.