After a fortnight that included Trey Waltke's flannel pants, Chris Evert Lloyd's stomach virus, Kevin Curren's machine-gun aces, Carling Bassett's Valley Girl lines and a new African noble who answered to the splendid title of Duke of Odizor, a thoroughly whacked-out Wimbledon finally righted itself. Just when the tournament threatened to plunge into utter chaos, John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova, Spin and Marty, came to life and proved that they're the best male and female players on earth. If Wimbledon is to remain the game's premier event, the All England blazers obviously must invent some ultra-skill, unisex bracket and make McEnroe and Navratilova play each other. Grant Spin but one serve, give Marty the doubles alleys and let them bray and preen across the tape from one another until the Tower Bridge crumbles into the Thames.
On Sunday in the men's final McEnroe brought a sensible conclusion to fantasies that had been bubbling everywhere. In three immaculate 6-2 sets of serve-and-volley tennis, the once (1980 and present champion overwhelmed New Zealand's Chris Lewis, the last of the mystery guests who gave this Wimbledon its special flavor. Mac lost only nine points on serve all afternoon. On the receiving end, he was just as impenetrable, repeatedly blistering returns to places where Lewis' quick feet could not carry him. The fifth game of the second set was a prime example. Lewis got his first serve in on all six points, but at 30-15 Mac blocked a backhand return winner and then whipped twin forehand passes within an inch of each other for the break. He had stretches of 12 and 13 straight points and won 24 of the last 30 points in the match.
Lewis, ranked 91st in the world, was the first unseeded player to tread the Wimbledon greensward in a final in 16 years. Like his countryman Tony Wilding, who won four straight Wimbledons from 1910 to 1913, Lewis is a romantic figure, with his high-cheekbone charm, his long hair and his gypsy bandannas slapping the breeze. Wilding was the sport's first matinee idol. If Lewis were a movie star he'd be a welder from Pittsburgh, and they'd call the flick Sashband.
Before last week Lewis, who won the Wimbledon junior title in 1975, had advanced beyond the semis in only three pro tournaments. He has a lot of time to think about his defeats because he fears flying and regularly drives to work on the U.S. and European circuits. Fortunately, he needn't suffer these journeys alone, an exquisite girl friend named Tammy Sayers being his latest passenger.
"Let's face it, this was a great opportunity for me to win easily," said McEnroe. "This guy wasn't Borg or Connors. But it's not my fault he got to the final."
McEnroe and Lewis weren't the only examples of the familiar mixing with the unfamiliar at this Wimbledon. Outrageous novelty concessions from the Colonies such as Baskin-Robbins' 31 flavors and Chipwiches cluttered up the food village, along with—my word, Jeeves!—that old English plebeian favorite, chips themselves. Then Waltke showed up in his nifty white flannels with turnups (Lilywhites of Piccadilly Circus, £14) and his crisp, roll-sleeve white disco shirt (Fred Segal of Hollywood, ask for a deal), and the lawns of SW19 suddenly had been whisked back to the 1930s. Ted Tinling, couturier to the stars, sewed belt loops on the flannels so Waltke, an elegant L.A. boulevardier long before this episode, could tie a striped cravat around his waist—just as the oldtimers did—before he took Centre Court against Ivan Lendl. Waltke was the first player to appear there in longies since Yvon Petra in 1946. "Nice pants," said Lendl, who won in straight sets. "I should have gone with the Tilden racket," said Waltke.
Meanwhile, lucky losers, those non-qualifiers who get into a tournament only when an accepted entrant withdraws, seemed to be hurtling about the place as if they really belonged. One was Chris Bradnam, a local wild card. Bradnam wasn't an official lucky loser, but he gave the term real meaning when he became the father of a baby girl just hours before losing to Charlie Fancutt. Moreover, Fancutt was the fellow who had beaten John McCurdy 9-7 in the fifth set in his final match of the qualifying tournament. Subsequently, McCurdy, a former Australian-rules football player from Yarrawonga, almost penniless and giving tennis a last try, was about to "break my rackets" when he was notified that 10th-seeded Jimmy Arias had pulled out of Wimbledon and that he, McCurdy, could play. McCurdy promptly won three matches while issuing such statements as "my favorite shot is the short smash with the opponent lying on the ground." He was the first Wimbledon lucky loser ever to reach the round of 16. "I've never played Tim Mayotte before," said McCurdy of his opponent in that round. "Come to think of it, I've never played anybody before."
The fourth round was when the fortnight took on the look of an NCAA champions' reunion. Eight former collegiate titlists made the last 16. That made all the more implausible the official program notes, which one day spelled Stanford, the distinguished university that supplied three of those NCAA winners, "Stamford." "Listen," said Sandy Mayer, Palo Alto 73, "I know a lot of guys who graduated and spelled it that way."
An erstwhile NCAA semifinalist who made the final 16 was Lagos, Nigeria's own Nduka Odizor, who had preceded his countryman, basketball star Akeem (The Dream) Olajuwon, at the University of Houston before joining the tour last year. Presumably Houston's African Extension Program is available to non-athletes as well. Odizor became the Duke on Fleet Street by upsetting Guillermo (Guarantee Willie) Vilas; by bouncing balls on his head during tense moments in matches and then catching them behind his back; and by exhibiting such insouciant charm that he could clear up the week-long confusion over whether his father was a "chief or a "chef with a simple grin. "It really doesn't matter," said the Duke. "He's dead anyway."
Alas, Lewis concocted a Duke sandwich, spreading Odizor thin over three easy sets between his surprising defeats of the missile-serving doubles partners, ninth-seeded Steve Denton and Curren, the 12th seed. Curren, remember, had blown off the premises one James Scott Connors with 33 aces in the fourth round. Curren also had survived Mayotte's self-acclaimed "best two sets of my life" in the quarters. In retrospect, because Curren was 2-1 in the three best matches of the tournament and delivered a total of 80 aces, perhaps Wimbledon Highlights '83 will belong as much to him as to McEnroe and Navratilova.