Chris Evert(and the WTA) almost boycotted the '75 USO due to green clay

Crazy article. I would bet anything that Evert has no memory of this(her memory about her career is shockingly bad). For those that don't want to read the whole article, the gist of it is that women's players back then felt that clay made their game look bad/boring etc. Imagine the clay GOAT raising concerns about a major using clay as a surface! To her credit, I guess she cared more about the image of women's tennis than having a surface that favored her. But the USO didn't cave and she ended up winning 3 USO's on green clay, so I guess its moot point.

Top women tennis professionals are prepared to boycott the United States Open championships at Forest Hills, Queens, this year unless a faster playing surface is used for the tournament at the West Side Tennis Club.

At a meeting yesterday in Boston, 32 members of the Women's Tennis Association said they preferred a synthetic surface, Sporteze, over the Har‐Tru composition clay courts that will be installed for the first time at this year's championships. The event formerly was played on grass.

“We have not said we would boycott,” Chris Evert, the first vice president of the association and the world's top‐ranking player, said by phone from Boston, where the women are involved in the national indoor championships. “But that was the general feeling. All of the girls, without taking a vote, agreed to play another tournament rather than play on clay at Forest Hills.”

Miss Evert said the association was seeking to have the Sporteze synthetic sur face, which plays considerably faster than clay, laid over the Har‐Tru courts for the Open.

Bill Talbert, the tournament director, said such a move was impossible. Talbert also chided the women professionals for their attitude.

“The U. S. Open was the open that first did for them what they wanted — equal money,” he said. “If the U. S. Open has so little meaning that they aren't that concerned, what are we all doing? If they play on HarTru, I can't believe it's going to hurt them that much.”

The fear of unfavorable publicity from dull matches on clay that could damage the credibility of the women's tour in the future was given as one of the reasons behind the unanimous accord reached at yesterday's W.T.A. meeting. Mrs. Billie Jean King, Rosemary Casals and Evonne Goolagong were among those in attendance.

“Women's tennis is more exciting on a faster surface,” Miss Evert said. “Men's tennis is more exciting on a slower surface.”

Miss Evert said the association “had offers from other places in New York to hold a separate tournament,” although she declined to name the specific site or sponsor.

“All of the girls want to play Forest Hills,” Miss Evert said. “We're taking a chance, we realize that. They may never want us back if we boycott it.”

Miss Evert, a Floridian who is at her best on slower surfaces such as clay, said she would be “willing to stand by any W.T.A. decision.” On the question of whether the association's demand for a faster surface was aimed at cutting into her dominance, she said: “I wouldn't want to think that. Even if they do think that, they wouldn't admit that.”

Miss Evert said a final vote by the entire association would be taken in May if no agreement could be reached with United States Open officials. Even then, it is uncertain whether all members of the association will follow the vote, as was shown in the recent controversy for equal prize money at Wimbledon. Although the association voted overwhelmingly to boycott the Wimbledon event if no agreement could be reached, only three of the top 10 women (Mrs. King, Miss Casals and Kerry Melville) were believed to be committed to the boycott.

Miss Evert found one note of irony in the women's demands.

“I think the men will be happy if we don't play,” she said.
/QUOTE]

 

BTURNER

Legend
Fascinating. Never heard about any of this. But in effect the women got what they wanted, now didn't they? And Evert was the only woman to win a US Open on clay. So she got her titles and she got to be on the winning side of this debate along with BJK, Goolagong and Casals.
 

muddlehead

Semi-Pro
As the article states, a common tennis thought back in that time often written and spoken about was: Women's game so slow inherently it needed to be played on a faster surface. Even Evert states this (suprisingly to me) in the article. Men's game so fast (on grass and indoors on carpet in those days) that it needed clay to slow it down. Always thought, it was and is an interesting topic. In the same vein, isn't the WTA ball today smaller or lighter than ATP ball. Wonder when the difference in balls started?
 
Last edited:

Greatgatsby

Professional
Having watched the 1980 QF at Wimbledon it was pretty boring as there were no rallies between Martina and Billie Jean.
 
As the article states, a common tennis thought back in that time often written and spoken about was: Women's game so slow inherently it needed to be played on a faster surface. Even Evert states this (suprisingly to me) in the article. Men's game so fast (on grass and indoors on carpet in those days) that it needed clay to slow it down. Always thought, it was and is an interesting topic. In the same vein, isn't the WTA ball today smaller or lighter than ATP ball. Wonder when the difference in balls started?
even though it was a common thought, it’s shocking to see the WTA saying it publicly at the time (and basically admitting that women’s tennis on clay isn’t a good product)
And yeah even crazier to see Evert say that. Notice what she says when asked if WTA was doing this to limit her dominance? “even if it was true, they wouldn’t admit it!” That’s a pretty frank statement. And “the men would probably like it if we didn’t play at all”

I have noticed in old articles and post match interviews that players of the 70s, 80s to some degree, could be pretty blunt, it felt like they were more honest back then (at some point players turned into robots when talking to press)

re men and women using diff balls, they were definitely doing it at the USO in the 80s, I recall Tony Trabert and John Newcombe mentioning it on air.
 
Also did anyone notice the article said King and Goolagong were committed to boycotting Wimbledon ‘75 due to the women not getting equal prize money? So much for that. King played Goolagong in the final that year. Sounds like the WTA talked more about boycotting back then than actually doing it. They didn’t get equal prize money till 2007, I wonder if a boycott would have made that happen sooner.

NY Times might be a better resource for info on tennis of the 70s than bios or interviews with these players today. Great reporting back then.
 

BTURNER

Legend
Having watched the 1980 QF at Wimbledon it was pretty boring as there were no rallies between Martina and Billie Jean.
I see your point, but there is nothing boring about watching BJK when she is really trying to win. I enjoyed watching it. Its a masterclass in tactical acumen just to see what she does to force her opponent to hit an uncomfortable ball and make errors. You sort of learn to see weaknesses in her opponents that you hadn't before because BJK shows them to you, even if she can't execute them to fruition often enough or makes errors herself.

If you want to learn what shots and patterns really frustrates Martina, or Goolagong, Austin or Evert in play, watch what King gives them over and over.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
Seems very strange and ironic for her to want to boycott a surface on which she would go on to win the majority of her Slams (7 at the French, 3 at the US) and is arguably the best woman player on it in the Open Era.
 

Ronaldo

Bionic Poster
even though it was a common thought, it’s shocking to see the WTA saying it publicly at the time (and basically admitting that women’s tennis on clay isn’t a good product)
And yeah even crazier to see Evert say that. Notice what she says when asked if WTA was doing this to limit her dominance? “even if it was true, they wouldn’t admit it!” That’s a pretty frank statement. And “the men would probably like it if we didn’t play at all”

I have noticed in old articles and post match interviews that players of the 70s, 80s to some degree, could be pretty blunt, it felt like they were more honest back then (at some point players turned into robots when talking to press)

re men and women using diff balls, they were definitely doing it at the USO in the 80s, I recall Tony Trabert and John Newcombe mentioning it on air.
Aren't the women still using regular-duty balls and men Xtra-duty balls on hardcourts?
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
Seems very strange and ironic for her to want to boycott a surface on which she would go on to win the majority of her Slams (7 at the French, 3 at the US) and is arguably the best woman player on it in the Open Era.
But, she didn't know this at the time - that she would win so many majors on clay. Even if she did, she seemed content to look at the bigger picture.
 

muddlehead

Semi-Pro
@Moose Malloy "" NY Times might be a better resource for info on tennis of the 70s than bios or interviews with these players today. Great reporting back then. ""

Yup.
Just this week I was looking at article in the TimesMachine about Alice Marble's first pro match at Madison Square Garden. Budge/Tilden - Marble/Mary Hardwick Hare. Marble wrote in her terrific book it was a sellout crowd. Had to verify cause that's what I do. Jan 6, 1941. Article states not a sellout, but close enough 13,500 or so. Revenue approx. 25k. Check marks the square to Ms. Marble for that one.
 

muddlehead

Semi-Pro
Did anyone watch the Wade-Evert 1977 Wimby match on YT that appeared for the first time yesterday? Watched it last night. Great stuff. VW had it going on that day. Sweet BH slices to mostly Evert's BH where the ball stayed low and skidded just a bit on the grass did the trick. Highly recommended viewing.
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
Did anyone watch the Wade-Evert 1977 Wimby match on YT that appeared for the first time yesterday? Watched it last night. Great stuff. VW had it going on that day. Sweet BH slices to mostly Evert's BH where the ball stayed low and skidded just a bit on the grass did the trick. Highly recommended viewing.
I did watch it and enjoyed it. I also watched a lot of Connors-Pernfors 1987 - and for some reasons this specific video accentuated just how ugly and crazy some of those grass-court bounces could be.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Never knew this. Pretty ironic. Does anyone know what drove them to go to Har Tru? I know the grass was problematic, but why clay?
 
Top