progressed one round for each of her three years at Wimbledon, but her lack of
speed and—this time—depth kept her at a disadvantage against Martina, even when
she served for the first set at 5-3. Right then Navratilova took advantage of a
bad call against Austin, began attacking and won nine straight games (to 5-0 in
the second set). Martina also had the patience, confidence and nerve to belt it
out from the baseline, which produced a striking contrast between herself—tall
and strong—and Tracy, still fluttery and squeaking like a church mouse as she
lunged in vain after Navratilova's power.
had some unfinished business to clear up. She had defeated Evert in last year's
final, yet she felt her victory was considered a fluke. And she was right. Then
a few weeks ago, at Eastbourne, the two rivals played what may have been the
finest women's match of the open era, a 7-5, 5-7, 13-11 victory for Mrs. Lloyd,
who saved three match points.
To get to
Navratilova again, Lloyd defeated Cawley 6-3, 6-2 over 62 of the longest, least
inspiring minutes imaginable—"The result," one wry Englishman
explained, "of marrying Englishmen."
Then, on Friday,
Navratilova finally proved she is no longer the ultimate choker. Toward the
ends of two sets that weren't even close—"I was never in the match,"
Lloyd admitted later—Navratilova served at 5-3 and was broken both times. Here,
with chances to wither and fall apart, she composed herself, hit out with
alarming precision and broke back in each set to win her second championship,
time," Martina screamed to her mother in their native tongue, shortly after
which Ted Tinling, the dress designer who has been observing Wimbledon for more
than 50 years, called Navratilova's performance "the most powerfully
dominating exhibition since Helen Wills."
everybody back to talking history again, back to 23-year-old Bjorn Borg. The
fellow has now won 38 of 41 matches at the All England Club and 28 in a row,
which is three short of Rod Laver's record. His four singles titles match
Laver's; however, Rod's did not come in consecutive years. The Rocket won in
1961 and 1962, then in 1968 and 1969. As a pro, he was not permitted to compete
in the interval. But Borg's four straight are otherwise unprecedented because
Wimbledon discarded the challenge-round system in 1922.
A true measure of
Borg's achievement, however, must wait on a comparison with other individual
sports and sportsmen. While Borg himself mentioned Eddy Merckx, the Belgian
cyclist who won five Tour de France, probably the Swede's awesome streak in
London stacks up more realistically somewhere between the stunning longevity of
Muhammad Ali and the instant legend accorded Olympians Bob Beamon in Mexico
City and Mark Spitz in Munich.
What, then, has
Borg done? "I don't think the rest of us in tennis can even relate to four
Wimbledons in a row," said Tanner.
still, what in the world is Bjorn Borg yet to do?