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There is an expression in England: at the end of the day. It means exactly the same as our "bottom line." And God knows we need an alternative to that. But you can have Wimbledon either way, because the bottom line is that, at the end of the day, this wasn't a tournament at all. It was 127 ladies and 127 gentlemen—and indeed they all were ladies and gentlemen—assembled so that two extraordinary soloists might have an orchestra with which to perform.
On occasion, one man or one woman has utterly ruled a Wimbledon. But never in the Open era—perhaps ever—has a Fortnight been entirely the shared realm of both champions. This year, though, John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova seem to have arrived at some numinous place where the longitude of majesty and the latitude of grace meet. It was all the more intriguing that McEnroe and Navratilova—McEntilova, if you will—together formed an androgynous whole, for it was the woman who won foremost with power, and the man with subtlety.
McEnroe's 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 rout of Jimmy Connors in the final was simply bedazzling, cadenza upon cadenza, and if Don Budge gave up only four games and Fred Perry but two in their greatest Wimbledon finals, no one who had the honor of watching McEnroe play tennis on Sunday could imagine anyone else ever having displayed so many gifts. Poor Jimmy. He couldn't return McEnroe's serve—the champion converted a stunning 78% of his first deliveries and dropped only 11 points in 11 service games—but neither could Connors deal with the glare from the other facets of the diamond. McEnroe made a grand total of two unforced errors in the entire match. It wasn't just that he wouldn't let Connors play; he wouldn't even let him run things down. He wouldn't let Connors be Connors.
Navratilova's triumph was marginally more gratifying, for at least she was tested for a while in her final by Chris Evert Lloyd; McEnroe was only playing against himself. Evert Lloyd began by breaking Navratilova twice to go up 3-0, but soon enough the lead eroded, and then vanished in a tiebreaker. So now Navratilova, who won 7-6, 6-2, has bulldozed through two straight Wimbledons without the loss of a set. That gives her three Wimbledons in a row, five all told, five consecutive Grand Slam titles and 38 matches without a defeat. She has lost only once in her last 93 matches. For something to do after tea, Navratilova and Pam Shriver won their fourth straight Wimbledon doubles crown.
Likewise, the day before McEnroe sliced up Connors for his 55th victory in 56 matches in '84, he and Peter Fleming won their fourth doubles at The Championships. Throughout the tournament, the boy they used to call Superbrat behaved so impeccably as a man that it was positively Borging. MAC THE NICE, the headlines cheered, SAINT JOHN. In another upset, the weather was just as benign. And what with a quarter of a million Americans flooding London, scalpers' prices for Centre Court ducats soared to dizzying new free-market heights ($655 a piece). And for what? It took two ho-hum weeks to round up all the usual suspects—McEnroe, Ivan Lendl and Connors; Navratilova, Evert Lloyd and Hana Mandlikova—and then stir Patrick Cash of Ringwood, Australia and Kathy Jordan of King of Prussia, Pa. into the semifinal pot. No wonder, amid this ennui, the Johnny-one-note British press concerned itself only with Navratilova's best friend and McEnroe's own worst enemy.
The only other sustaining issue that popped up—at least on the distaff side—was: Who's No. 2? The top women are a feisty lot, and they took after one another like so many fishwives. Mandlikova, Shriver and Jordan all rushed to welcome Evert Lloyd to the old Y Class in the back of the plane. "Chris is at our level now," snapped Jordan, who employs a rolling-pin grip on the court as well. Mandlikova went further: Referring to a match Evert Lloyd played against Carina Karlsson, a Swedish ingenue, she spoke of "Carina and the other girl."
Evert Lloyd had some good comebacks and some bad comebacks. Of Mandlikova she said, "I guess she should be cocky. She beat me three years ago." But then, of the widening gap with Navratilova: "If it weren't for Martina, I'd be dominating women's tennis"—which is rather like Gary Hart saying, "If it weren't for Walter Mondale, I'd...."
Evert Lloyd also said, "Everyone is my coach. Everyone tries to tell me how to play. And maybe when you get older you start thinking more. Perhaps it would be better for me just to go back to hitting the ball." And that's exactly what she did against Navratilova—and against Mandlikova, too, for that matter. Luckily, Mandlikova came first. Hana won the first game from the other girl and then dropped the next nine en route to losing 6-1, 6-2. Mandlikova, as is all too often the case, didn't have the foggiest. She would approach behind powder-puff crosscourt shots and then sort of mill about in the middle of the court while Evert Lloyd knocked passing shots down the line. It was interesting to see somebody back-doored in tennis. When the debacle was over, Mandlikova rushed away, curtsying on the hop to Princess Di, who was in the royal box this day.
Meanwhile, in the other half of the draw, Navratilova pressed ahead to the finals by a score of 6-4, 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 (!), 6-2, 6-2, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4. Here's the highlight film: long shot, shadows, Navratilova walking onto Centre Court for first match, with Peanut Louie. Cut to sun-kissed No. 2 court action, against Iva Budarova in third round. Budarova provides good color—a canary-yellow racket. She must be the youngest player extant, male or female, to hold two balls to serve. Dissolve to mélange: the big, fiat Navratilova serve down the T, a slice backhand on the chalk, a perfect drop volley, a slice serve, a crunching overhead, the bang forehand, the deep volley. Now a kick second serve, a running forehand down the line, a lob for anyone who dares take her net. Segue into a little human interest: poor Liz Sayers, the sacrifice in the round of 16, doubled over on the baseline after the first set, knocked out by a stomach bug.
Then quick, some contrived tension in the quarters: 17-year-old Manuela Maleeva of Bulgaria is Navratilova's first bona fide challenger. She conquered Evert Lloyd at the Italian Open with the same two-handed backhand, but there is something of an original here: Maleeva's thoughtful shots tumble with accuracy, not just with the unwitting velocity most Chrissie clones have displayed. Maleeva even earns some break points against Navratilova, but the champion shuts her down. As the match peters out, the observers grow more interested in Maleeva's appearance than her game—the bow in her hair, her fetching outfit. "She's the prettiest here," says a Yank. "Too twee," says a Brit. "Game, set and match to Miss Navratilova," says the umpire. Another round, another rout.