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View Full Version : Billie Jean King in 1972- missed a Grand Slam by not playing the Australian Open


grafselesfan
04-15-2009, 07:48 PM
It is interesting that Billie Jean King missed out on a Calender Slam in 1972 because she didnt even play the Australian Open. This was her best ever year, she won all 3 grand slams she played- the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S Open, but bypassed Australia to start the year. She started by winning her only ever French Open, an amazing feat for her given her general mediocrity on clay. She defeated Evonne Goolgong, someone generally regarded as a far superior clay court player in the final. She regained her Wimbledon title by thumping Goolagong in the final, avenging a loss from the 1971 semis. She then won the U.S Open to wrap up the year. I wonder how much she regrets not playing the Australian Open now in hindsight, or how likely she would have played it if she would have known how her year would have turned out.

This is an interesting quote from King on encyclopdia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billie_Jean_King

King won three Grand Slam singles titles in 1972, electing not to play the Australian Open despite being nearby when she played in New Zealand in late-1971. King said, "I was twenty-eight years old, and I was at the height of my powers. I'm quite sure I could have won the Grand Slam [in] ... 1972, but the Australian was such a minor-league tournament at that time.... More important, I did not want to miss any Virginia Slims winter tournaments. I was playing enough as it was."[54]

For the record Virginia Wade won that 1972 Australian Open with a win over Evonne Goolagong in the final. King's lifetime head to head with Wade is is 22-9. Not a gaurantee of course. Wade despite being overshadowed by Court, King, Evert, Navratilova, and Goolagong throughout her career is still a great player who can beat any of the big guns at any given moment. However you would still have to surmise her chances were pretty good, especialy in the form she obviously was in during her best year ever.

egn
04-15-2009, 08:03 PM
King skipping that was more important in her head. She felt getting a tour for women set up was more important. She needed to play those events so the tour would still be popular as she was one of the big names and the forefront of the tour.

King missed out of a lot of greatness because she would have rather set up the tour and help the rest of the women than achieve more in her career. A good thing that I feel always makes me like King a lot more than the other women players..she is the reason most of them are as successful as they are today. The top women were unhappy with Evert on the scene when she first arrived and King helped Navratilova in her tough times. King did a lot and the players recognize it but it is sad it does not help her career.

boredone3456
04-15-2009, 08:26 PM
King skipping that was more important in her head. She felt getting a tour for women set up was more important. She needed to play those events so the tour would still be popular as she was one of the big names and the forefront of the tour.

King missed out of a lot of greatness because she would have rather set up the tour and help the rest of the women than achieve more in her career. A good thing that I feel always makes me like King a lot more than the other women players..she is the reason most of them are as successful as they are today. The top women were unhappy with Evert on the scene when she first arrived and King helped Navratilova in her tough times. King did a lot and the players recognize it but it is sad it does not help her career.

I sort of Agree with this. In the early 70's the Australian was not considered as important as the other 3 majors so she skipped it and focused on getting the WTA in order. I don't know how much greatness she missed out on though, She was against a tough field when she was in her prime including Bueno and Court, then later in the 70's all those other women. She sort of had her hands full throughout her career in terms of the competition she had to face.

If she could go back and play the Australian I don't know if she would, she was never a great clay courter, not compared to others around her so I really don't think she ever expected to win the French anyway, with Goolagong and Court being much bigger forces of the clay than she was. She won the french and that probably shocked her as much as it did many in the world at the time. If she had known in advance she would win the French well maybe, but she probably never considered herself as much of a contender there as she was elsewhere.

The calender slam would have made her look better in the eyes of history, but that is only one more slam, would it improve her all time ranking in my eyes, not really, as the women above her (Nav, Graf, Court, Evert, Wills, Lenglen, Connolly) are all ingrained. I would actually argue the thing she would want more would be an Australian Open Doubles title as that was the only slam trophy she was never able to get in her career, and that probably aggravates her more than the 1972 singles title possibility.

egn
04-15-2009, 08:39 PM
I sort of Agree with this. In the early 70's the Australian was not considered as important as the other 3 majors so she skipped it and focused on getting the WTA in order. I don't know how much greatness she missed out on though, She was against a tough field when she was in her prime including Bueno and Court, then later in the 70's all those other women. She sort of had her hands full throughout her career in terms of the competition she had to face.

If she could go back and play the Australian I don't know if she would, she was never a great clay courter, not compared to others around her so I really don't think she ever expected to win the French anyway, with Goolagong and Court being much bigger forces of the clay than she was. She won the french and that probably shocked her as much as it did many in the world at the time. If she had known in advance she would win the French well maybe, but she probably never considered herself as much of a contender there as she was elsewhere.

The calender slam would have made her look better in the eyes of history, but that is only one more slam, would it improve her all time ranking in my eyes, not really, as the women above her (Nav, Graf, Court, Evert, Wills, Lenglen, Connolly) are all ingrained. I would actually argue the thing she would want more would be an Australian Open Doubles title as that was the only slam trophy she was never able to get in her career, and that probably aggravates her more than the 1972 singles title possibility.

Yea but King hurt the most from the tour I think from 69-71 she was trying to really set up the tour, she was angry at the men who would not help her out who just got their tour. She spent a good portion of that time searching for help. The tour was than establish in the 70s and a lot of time was spent attempting to create an image and it was struggling, it was at risk of going under. King was under a lot of stress and was not focused on playing tennis as much as making sure everything was underway. I imagine if this was out of her life things would have been different and we see her with 3 or 4 more slams. Add that to the calendar year she is up 5 slams or so putting her at 17 the GOAT family would have more competition.

thalivest
04-15-2009, 08:58 PM
Yea but King hurt the most from the tour I think from 69-71 she was trying to really set up the tour, she was angry at the men who would not help her out who just got their tour. She spent a good portion of that time searching for help. The tour was than establish in the 70s and a lot of time was spent attempting to create an image and it was struggling, it was at risk of going under. King was under a lot of stress and was not focused on playing tennis as much as making sure everything was underway. I imagine if this was out of her life things would have been different and we see her with 3 or 4 more slams. Add that to the calendar year she is up 5 slams or so putting her at 17 the GOAT family would have more competition.

King only won 1 slam title from 69-71 and it was a U.S Open that neither Court or Goolagong played, and she played a 16 year old amateur Chris Evert in the semis. That is really lean picking for her. Granted while Court playing incredibly in 69 and 70, and Goolagong having her best year ever in 71 was probably a big part of that, I am not surprised to hear there was something else distracting her those years. I imagine had she been able to focus on tennis those 3 years especialy might have been alot better, a very dissapointing 3 years for her given her performance from 66-68 and from 72-75.

suwanee4712
04-16-2009, 09:06 AM
King skipping that was more important in her head. She felt getting a tour for women set up was more important. She needed to play those events so the tour would still be popular as she was one of the big names and the forefront of the tour.

King missed out of a lot of greatness because she would have rather set up the tour and help the rest of the women than achieve more in her career. A good thing that I feel always makes me like King a lot more than the other women players..she is the reason most of them are as successful as they are today. The top women were unhappy with Evert on the scene when she first arrived and King helped Navratilova in her tough times. King did a lot and the players recognize it but it is sad it does not help her career.


I agree on both counts. King's slam numbers were probably hurt by her off court activities. Her historical comparisons to Evert and Martina are probably hurt too considering how much she helped both of them. Speaking of help, it's interesting to think about how Mandlikova's first choice for a coach was King. King turned her down but pointed her in the direction of Stove. This isn't a slam to Betty, but can you imagine the potential of Hana harnessing her game under the guidance of King?

I'm always critical of King, Evert, Mac, etc. when they start talking about how the Australian or the French wasn't that big of a deal in the 70's. Maybe if I had been cognizant of the context of those days as it was happening I would understand it better. But I cut them no slack in having a lack of foresight about the importance of 2 of the slam events and their continuing importance to tennis history.

With that said, I think King had a great shot at winning the slam. Wade and Goolagong were both more than capable of beating her in slams and had already done so. But I would probably put King's chances at 60/40 of winning that event at least.

grafselesfan
04-16-2009, 11:31 AM
Unless I a mistaken Goolagong and Wade were only able to beat King in a slam once each. Wade at the 1968 U.S Open, and Goolagong at Wimbledon 1971. If that is really the case King's chances are even more likely had she played the 1972 Australian Open.

egn
04-16-2009, 01:21 PM
Unless I a mistaken Goolagong and Wade were only able to beat King in a slam once each. Wade at the 1968 U.S Open, and Goolagong at Wimbledon 1971. If that is really the case King's chances are even more likely had she played the 1972 Australian Open.

Coincidence that King spent most of that time trying to get the WTA up.

68 WCT established she pleades to the mens tour to get the women involved they deny her and she is angered goes to spend most of the reminaining 68-69 to find sponsors and someone to help run the tour. Sets up tour in 70 spends most of first two years fighting with sponsors, focusing on promotion and etc. Prior to 68 and post 71 she handled Wade and Goolagong with ease..

It almost seems as King missed out on what could have been some of her best years by not completely dedicating herself. THen again we might be glad that she did or no womens tennis..

grafselesfan
04-16-2009, 01:43 PM
Coincidence that King spent most of that time trying to get the WTA up.

68 WCT established she pleades to the mens tour to get the women involved they deny her and she is angered goes to spend most of the reminaining 68-69 to find sponsors and someone to help run the tour. Sets up tour in 70 spends most of first two years fighting with sponsors, focusing on promotion and etc. Prior to 68 and post 71 she handled Wade and Goolagong with ease..

It almost seems as King missed out on what could have been some of her best years by not completely dedicating herself. THen again we might be glad that she did or no womens tennis..

It is amazing to think how much selfless and tireless work King did for the womens game, even sacrificing her own career to some degree in the process.

Yet todays women feature in one of the worst fields ever and are getting so much more money than the more deserving women of that time period did. Hardly any of them even half appreciate it either. It is a shame really.  One thing I do like about the Williams sisters is they seem to be two of the few who really appreciate all King has done for womens tennis, although of course has helped them as well when they were coming up.

suwanee4712
04-16-2009, 03:22 PM
Unless I a mistaken Goolagong and Wade were only able to beat King in a slam once each. Wade at the 1968 U.S Open, and Goolagong at Wimbledon 1971. If that is really the case King's chances are even more likely had she played the 1972 Australian Open.

You're right. I was probably too conservative with my estimate.

CEvertFan
04-16-2009, 09:45 PM
She probably did, but then so did Evert I'm sure - one of those years during the mid to late 70s she would have won all 4 majors if she had played all of them every year. Like King said, the AO was not considered important at the time - the Aussie players only played it because they conveniently lived there and it was their national tournament. Everyone else seldom did which is telling on how unimportant it really was. It's hard to fathom that now considering that the AO is pretty much in the same caliber as the other majors now.

flying24
04-24-2009, 10:50 PM
King played amazingly well in 1972 but in all fairness was very fortunate to win the 1972 French Open anyway. She isnt the calibre of clay courter to deserve to win a French Open, heck some of the more noted weakest of winners like Majoli and Myskina might even be better than her on clay. She won a French Open with Evert, Court, and Richey all skipping the event. What were her chance of beating any of those 3 on clay? The only quality and clearly superior clay courter who played was Goolagong. Well this is Goolagong, the Mandlikova of the 70s. Evonne is so unpredictable that she can win any event or lose in the 1st round to anyone. So with her the only major obstacle anything could happen. Yeah I know King beat her in the final but who knows what Evonne showed up that day.

Her 1972 French Open win was under similar circumstances as her 1972 Australian Open absence which she likely would have won had been there. Just the way both events were viewed for a period of time. She probably should have won 3 of 4 slams that year, just the Australian instead of the French.

BTURNER
04-24-2009, 11:04 PM
I agree Flying. She had contempt for clay and the feeling was mutual. Sorta like a Alicia telling a Rick "I let you take me to the dance you if you were that last man on earth! " After he asked Jennifer.

grafselesfan
04-24-2009, 11:22 PM
Why wasnt she better on clay? Was it her groundstrokes or her comfort with moving on the surface, or something else altogether? Having seen King, Navratilova, and Court all play I think Martina and Margaret had much stronger standard drive groundstrokes, so much more powerful and solid. King was an excellent serve-volleyer, and hit alot of very clever shots from the baseline like drop shots and dinks, which probably worked better on grass.

BTURNER
04-25-2009, 07:28 AM
Why wasnt she better on clay? Was it her groundstrokes or her comfort with moving on the surface, or something else altogether? Having seen King, Navratilova, and Court all play I think Martina and Margaret had much stronger standard drive groundstrokes, so much more powerful and solid. King was an excellent serve-volleyer, and hit alot of very clever shots from the baseline like drop shots and dinks, which probably worked better on grass.

First: King needed an attitude adjustment! She was so negative about clay court tennis its no wonder she lost! If you hate what you are doing, its sure to reflect itself in performance. She said clay tennis was boring and tedious and not fan friendly etc. Second: King needed a more consistent forehand. It was definitely the shot that everyone went to, to get an error from the backcourt even of faster surfaces. third: King needed to feel comfortable sliding. Fourth: King needed more practice and patience. She barely played one or two events a year on clay and wanted to end points too quickly.

I think she could have done better, had she put in more effort. Her court sense, versitility, and tactical brilliance would have served her well.

flying24
04-25-2009, 04:08 PM
I agree Flying. She had contempt for clay and the feeling was mutual. Sorta like a Alicia telling a Rick "I let you take me to the dance you if you were that last man on earth! " After he asked Jennifer.

Hehe that is a good line. :) It sounds like Sampras on clay.

CANADIAN763
04-25-2009, 07:35 PM
Well federer missed a grand slam three times because nadal was alive:)

grafselesfan
04-26-2009, 04:02 PM
Well federer missed a grand slam three times because nadal was alive:)

Definitely not. 2 at most. He didnt win the Australian Open in 2005 or 2008, and Kuerten took him out at the 2004 French.

grafselesfan
04-26-2009, 04:03 PM
First: King needed an attitude adjustment! She was so negative about clay court tennis its no wonder she lost! If you hate what you are doing, its sure to reflect itself in performance. She said clay tennis was boring and tedious and not fan friendly etc. Second: King needed a more consistent forehand. It was definitely the shot that everyone went to, to get an error from the backcourt even of faster surfaces. third: King needed to feel comfortable sliding. Fourth: King needed more practice and patience. She barely played one or two events a year on clay and wanted to end points too quickly.

I think she could have done better, had she put in more effort. Her court sense, versitility, and tactical brilliance would have served her well.

OK thanks. It sounds like she just wanted no part of clay if she could help it, LOL! With that in mind it was a remarkable effort for her ever to win the French even with the big clay guns almost all skipping it that year.