Best female athletes of the 1970's

BTURNER

Legend
Lets stipulate the criteria first. I am talking strength, speed, agility, balance, hand/eye coordination and I am talking about the whole package combined in a box and wrapped with a ribbon.
I think its pretty clear that Court was the best athlete of the early 70's. That box is stuffed to the top and its hard to get the lid to fit! Now at the very end we have Martina, while still not at the supernova level of the mid eighties, still has it all in 1978-79. Its the years in the middle from 1974- 1978 where I think there is a big question. Our nominees:

Goolagong - astonishing speed, balance, and agility but she did not overpower many opponents.
King - She still had some slams in her but the knees were no longer allies. Still her agility, balance and hand/ eye was flawless. I don't know how physically strong she was.
Court - She is an aging diminished player now, but I would be a fool not to remind us all, she's still Margaret Court.
Evert - She has impeccable balance and hand/ eye coordination, equal to anyone, but she can't rate higher than # 3 or 4 in the other categories in the 1970..
Casals and Turnbull were both very quick,, agile, and excellent hands and balance, but neither was particularly strong.

So help me out here!
 
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DMP

Professional
If you are going to include Casals and Turnbull then I would certainly include Wade. Great athlete and stronger than those two. Other names in that tier behind the very top group I would include Morozova and Tegart-Dalton for movement, and Kerry Reid for overall athleticism, although a bit on the small side, like Casals.
 
The best overall athlete would still probably be Court, even past her prime as a tennis player. So fit and super strong, yet also agile enough and fast enough, and pretty good in all athletic related areas, but with overwhelming strength, endurance, leaping ability, strength, and reach.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Lets stipulate the criteria first. I am talking strength, speed, agility, balance, hand/eye coordination and I am talking about the whole package combined in a box and wrapped with a ribbon.
I think its pretty clear that Court was the best athlete of the early 70's. That box is stuffed to the top and its hard to get the lid to fit! Now at the very end we have Martina, while still not at the supernova level of the mid eighties, still has it all in 1978-79. Its the years in the middle from 1974- 1978 where I think there is a big question. Our nominees:

Goolagong - astonishing speed, balance, and agility but she did not overpower many opponents.
King - She still had some slams in her but the knees were no longer allies. Still her agility, balance and hand/ eye was flawless. I don't know how physically strong she was.
Court - She is an aging diminished player now, but I would be a fool not to remind us all, she's still Margaret Court.
Evert - She has impeccable balance and hand/ eye coordination, equal to anyone, but she can't rate higher than # 3 or 4 in the other categories in the 1970..
Casals and Turnbull were both very quick,, agile, and excellent hands and balance, but neither was particularly strong.

So help me out here!
Court, by a country mile.
 

BTURNER

Legend
Court, by a country mile.
she wasn't nearly the athlete after she came back in 1975 by almost everyone's view. . That's why the same woman who won 3 of the four majors in 1973, never got passed the semis in one in 1975. She only got to 2 QF's and one SF in 1975. On the regular WTA tour, the story was the same. In 1973 she won 18 events. In 1975 She simply wasn't a factor even before her pregnancy in August. . She only won one tournament in Chicago over Martina, and only reached three other finals losing twice to Evert, and once to Evonne. .

She did much better in doubles in 1975 when she only had to cover half the court.

I am asking who took over her mantle as best athlete in 1974,1975,1976,1977.
 
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DMP

Professional
she wasn't nearly the athlete after she came back in 1975 by almost everyone's view. . That's why the same woman who won 3 of the four majors in 1973, never got passed the semis in one in 1975. She only got to 2 QF's and one SF in 1975. On the regular WTA tour, the story was the same. In 1973 she won 18 events. In 1975 She simply wasn't a factor even before her pregnancy in August. . She only won one tournament in Chicago over Martina, and only reached three other finals losing twice to Evert, and once to Evonne. .

She did much better in doubles in 1975 when she only had to cover half the court.

I am asking who took over her mantle as best athlete in 1974,1975,1976,1977.
I think Wade may actually have been the best athlete. She was fast, mobile and strong enough. I think where she was lacking was in technique and mentality She liked flashy winners (I remember reading interviews with both her and Francosie Durr where they said they both preferred to go for flashy winners and put on a show, rather than go for sensible play). Also I think she lacked the precision of certainly Evert and also Navratilova, that hustling to get into the right position. But as a pure athlete she was pretty good.
 

BTURNER

Legend
I think Wade may actually have been the best athlete. She was fast, mobile and strong enough. I think where she was lacking was in technique and mentality She liked flashy winners (I remember reading interviews with both her and Francosie Durr where they said they both preferred to go for flashy winners and put on a show, rather than go for sensible play). Also I think she lacked the precision of certainly Evert and also Navratilova, that hustling to get into the right position. But as a pure athlete she was pretty good.
Thank-you. It was a simple brain fart on my part excluding her. Frankly I have not seen that many matches where she was in good form so I am not the best judge. Personally I was leaning toward Evonne because my only question was about her physical strength. She was in my view very quick around the court in all direction, during those years with incredible agility and balance. Her timing on the volley and half volley was exquisite showing how coordinated she was.
 

DMP

Professional
Thank-you. It was a simple brain fart on my part excluding her. Frankly I have not seen that many matches where she was in good form so I am not the best judge. Personally I was leaning toward Evonne because my only question was about her physical strength. She was in my view very quick around the court in all direction, during those years with incredible agility and balance. Her timing on the volley and half volley was exquisite showing how coordinated she was.
I agree with you, I only put Wade's name in there because I think as an pure athlete she justifies being in the discussion, certainly ahead of Casals and Turnbull. Her actual game could be a bit wild, which is why she isn't up there with the others in terms of results, but as an athlete she justifies consideration.

Over the 1970s overall I think you could say Goolagong was the best athlete because Court was really finished quite early in the decade. Over her whole career I would say Court hit that sweet spot between Goolagong's movement and the greater discipline of Navratilova and Evert. You got me thinking about it and I would describe Navratilova, Evert, and King as hustling athletes. They didn't flow as well as Goolagong/Court/Wade but their strength was anticipation, getting in position, being there, having a dependable shot. I would describe Barty among the current top women as being similar.
 

urban

Legend
Stoeve is an example, that the fitness level on the womens tour in the 1970s wasn't that high. She was big and strong, but extremely slow and immobile. I also remember Karen Krantzke, a big Australian, who sadly died at a young age. Court was the best athlete, due to the Hopman training regimen, which she learnt by Frank Sedgman and his gym, but i found her always rather slow. Its correct, that Wade was the most modern looking player in terms of athletic appearance. Overall when i grew up, i saw in womens tennis at Wim or Rothenbaum more of a contest of balletic, elegant strokes, than a real athletic battle. To use dropshots to disturb the rhythmic game, was a sacrileg. When the players were extended in their reach, they used high lobs.. Lea Pericoli, Lesley Turner, Helga Schultze were all beautiful women (i hopefully might say that in times of me too), but not athletes. All Aussies wanted to play mixed doubles with Helga, but Emmo said of her, that she would catch her own serve, if she followed it to the net. In Germany we also had Helga Masthoff-Niessen, which i often saw train at the Rochus-Club. He was a majestic player with ultra long legs and a royal aura, but she camped on the baseline, and didn't really run.
It changed with Martina and Graf. Martina in the 80s transformed herself from a bit overweight player into the muscular "bionic woman", as World Tennis wrote. You can note exactly the shaping of her body, between late 70s and early 80s. Chrissie also reacted to that, and changed and shaped her body herself. It was Graf, whose success depended heavily on a new level of speed, stamina and mobility. Graf was a natural athlete like a track and field runner. That gave her a great advantage over all her peers, including at her late stages Hingis. Then the Williams sisters brought more power to the game.
 

DMP

Professional
If we stray a little from the 70s to the 80s then another name that comes in is of course Mandlikova.
 

urban

Legend
I want to add, that from clips i found Althea Gibson very athletic, like Alice Marble before. From what i read, she never had a chance against big hitting and tough Little Mo. From an athletic standpoint, i think the 1970s players would have their handful with Mo and Althea. Ted Tinling, the closest observer of womens tennis, always said, that in the womens game the hard hitting baseliner would beat all netrushers, because no women would cover the net completely.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I want to add, that from clips i found Althea Gibson very athletic, like Alice Marble before. From what i read, she never had a chance against big hitting and tough Little Mo. From an athletic standpoint, i think the 1970s players would have their handful with Mo and Althea. Ted Tinling, the closest observer of womens tennis, always said, that in the womens game the hard hitting baseliner would beat all netrushers, because no women would cover the net completely.
I don't know about that...Martina at her best, pretty much smothered the net. But, she had the service game to back it up. None of today's baseliners have faced anyone near that caliber, let alone any S&V. Similar story for the men. Would love to see someone try and break the trend.
 
she wasn't nearly the athlete after she came back in 1975 by almost everyone's view. . That's why the same woman who won 3 of the four majors in 1973, never got passed the semis in one in 1975. She only got to 2 QF's and one SF in 1975. On the regular WTA tour, the story was the same. In 1973 she won 18 events. In 1975 She simply wasn't a factor even before her pregnancy in August. . She only won one tournament in Chicago over Martina, and only reached three other finals losing twice to Evert, and once to Evonne. .

She did much better in doubles in 1975 when she only had to cover half the court.

I am asking who took over her mantle as best athlete in 1974,1975,1976,1977.

Was that really her athletic skills declining that much or just her tennis skills? Or her mind? It is anyones guess really. It isn't neccessarily solely her athletic skills.

If Court had declined best athlete would probably be between King and Goolagong.
 

BTURNER

Legend
Was that really her athletic skills declining that much or just her tennis skills? Or her mind? It is anyones guess really. It isn't neccessarily solely her athletic skills.

If Court had declined best athlete would probably be between King and Goolagong.
As I say, her doubles record seemed unaffected so I presume her hunger and mental game were still sharp. 1975 she played those 'big points' just fine to reach the finals of the Aussie with Morozova, and won both the US OPen and the Virginia Slims tour doubles championships with Wade (both times) over King and Casals (both times), and won the mixed doubles at Wimbledon w/ Reisson. That's what made me suspect she was not quick covering the court or lost some of her power edge, as she had been prior.
 
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