06-23-2009, 07:39 AM
King took a set and a 4-1 lead and then Julie Heldman, won 6 straight games and 9 of the last 10. Leading 4-1 in the third Heldman asked the umpire if the 60 seconds were up on a changeover and he said more than up. The newspaper quoted Heldman as addressing BJK, "We must continue or stop the match." BJK replied, "Okay, if you want it that much, you can have it."
The article says that King was battling the flu, fatigue and the heat but that seems a bit lame. Both MN in 1982 and CE in 1983 and 1989 finished their matches and gave Shriver, Jordan and Sanchez a win not a default.
I admire BJK but this really surprised me when I saw it years ago in another publication. To be fair the 1973 piece seems more tame and the other casy BJK in a more sore loser light.
06-23-2009, 08:27 AM
Thanks for that post! It brought back memories of reading a BJK autobiography in the 1970s and she pretty much confirms what you say - and while I doubt she'd thank you for your interpretation of her behaviour, it's pretty much how the fans viewed it.
For added spice, Julie's mom, Gladys Heldman, helped put together the first women's pro tour - indeed she and Billie Jean were the prime movers behind it. Julie, a solid touring pro, signed up from the start, too.
I will not attempt to excuse Billie Jean for that day - it was probably the first time in years that she found herself in deep trouble against a 'lesser' player in one of the majors, which can't have helped her mood - but instead observe that she took her beating most other days. And at least it was R4 and not a major final.
The US nationals had seen this kind of thing way back when: Suzanne Lenglen pulling out to Molla Bjurstedt Mallory in their R2 match in 1921 - an absolute sensation in its day - and, far worse, Helen Wills Moody denying eternal runner-up Helen Jacobs her moment when behind 0-3 in the third set of their 1933 final. The crowds respected Wills Moody's awesome record - she did not lose a set of tennis anywhere in the world between 1927 and 1932! - but it was difficult to warm to Little Miss Poker Face, and they didn't hesitate to boo the perceived lack of sportsmanship.
Lenglen took a jeering, too, and the whole affair became a cause célebre when an official of the FTF resigned after they exonerated their darling, citing an illness which he insisted was entirely feigned when she found herself in an unaccustomed position against a player whom she routinely trounced, playing the match of her life.
The Australians were rather kinder to Justine Henin-Hardenne, as she then was, than most commentators were inclined to be when she did the same thing in her 2006 final to Amélie Mauresmo of France. At least La Mauresmo secured sweet revenge in their final at SW19 later that year, denying the Belgian a career slam - unlike the unfortunate Miss Jacobs, who found herself at match point up against Wills Moody in their 1935 Wimbledon final showdown, but couldn't close it out. She did claim her Wimbledon title, in 1936, but it is forever noted that Wills Moody was absent - hardly Miss Jacobs's fault. Their final tally was: seven major finals, six of them to Wills Moody and that 1933 US default to Jacobs.
Finals really matter. I remember the BBC commentator Dan Maskell observing during Boris Becker's straight-sets implosion against his 'lesser' countrymman Michael Stich in 1991 that he had never seen behaviour like this in a Wimbledon final. What about McEnroe, a colleague asked. "Never in a final!" he shot back - and he was absolutely correct. There was a little grumbling in his final, losing set, to Jimmy Connors in 1982, but nothing to write home about.
Now, there's no excusing BJK in 1973, but at least she never pulled a stunt in a major singles finals showdown either - and she togged out for quite a few of those, if memory serves.
06-23-2009, 02:33 PM
EVeryone is entitled to an episode of lousy temperment once or twice in a career of over 20 years. . She felt like '***' and just couldn't take the mouth that particularly day. She needed to go home.
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