In Retrospect Wade wining Wimbledon. A charming article (The Times)

PDJ

G.O.A.T.
4 views of the historic win.
It really is quite charming.
Part One
Did it matter that I won with a beautiful shot? Absolutely’
Four of those involved in the historic 1977 Wimbledon women’s singles final recall their memories — fond or otherwise — to Alyson Rudd

Virginia Wade — The last British woman to have won a grand-slam title, she defeated Betty Stove 4-6, 6-3, 6-1

I went to sleep the night before, visualising what it was going to be like — which is a very good way of going to sleep, by the way. This day was different from any other day. I had slept well and it was nice weather. I was playing well, but so much better rehearsed than usual so I was ready for anything.

I’m sure I ate the same breakfast and listened to the same music — Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto. You have to have a certain amount of routine.

Earlier in the tournament you get psyched when you think about who you might play in the next round but by the final there are no other rounds to worry about, which means it is important not to feel flat, which can happen. The dressing room is empty, it’s the end and people are closing down.

I practised on the Wimbledon courts and then an hour and half before the match I sat quietly on Centre Court for ten minutes to resurrect the feeling of theatre.

The Queen was coming and everyone was excited. It had been an extraordinary year with all the Silver Jubilee celebrations. Everyone was in love with the royal family and it had been drab in the 1970s so it was an occasion for the whole population to celebrate. Wimbledon felt more buoyant, so much more dramatic.

I spoke to Betty perfunctorily — you don’t want to say more than that, you just want to be polite.

Arthur Ashe had won Wimbledon two years before and he and I had the same birthday and we had won the US Open the same year in 1968 — there seemed to be a bit of destiny and tennis coincidence in our lives. He wrote me a note and in it said something like, “Get to the net and camp out there.” You needed to be up at the net volleying as much as you could. If people say something worthwhile it can really stay with you.

I wasn’t distracted by losing the first set, although I might momentarily have been uncomfortable. If you have an amazingly good first set, anything can go wrong, and if you have a terrible first set, it’s not the end of the world. I had tremendous belief that Betty couldn’t actually beat me. I had come through against her before even when behind so I knew I had the psychological edge.

The crowd was definitely one-sided and got more and more supportive to the point that she was going nuts. I broke early in the second set but she broke back. I was on a streak and from 3-3 in the second set I couldn’t do anything wrong, I was playing on the cloud.

My best performance had come two days before, a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 win in the semi-final against Chris Evert. Chris was so tough but had not quite hit her stride. She was definitely the best player in the world, you had to work every single point because she never missed.

Just before the winning shot of the final, I was high but in a controlled way. She placed a volley to my forehand side and I chased it and I slipped and I thought it was funny and you could see I was definitely going for it.

The winning point was a forehand down the line. Did it matter that it was a beautiful shot, that I won with a great shot? Yes it did. I’ve never actually been asked that before but I felt strongly about finishing matches with a flourish. And that could get me into trouble, aiming for something exotic. It pleases me that I ended with a winner. I ran around her second serve and crunched it.

It felt like total exhilaration and unbelievable satisfaction, finally it had come to pass. When the crowd started singing and cheering; I’d never heard anything like that and it makes you feel quite small that I was the reason for it.

Afterwards people would say, “Oh we had a day off school to watch you.” I knew there would be people stood in front of TV stores.

That evening I was with all my family and friends at a lovely Indian restaurant by Harrods. People coming up to me was a constant from then on.

After the men’s final there was a dinner, rather than a ball, so I didn’t get to dance with the wonderful Bjorn Borg.

It all goes by in a bit of a flash. You’re holding this amazing trophy and it’s so heavy that you can’t hold it up for that long. And the Queen was standing right there, so that was the ultimate moment.

WADE’S ROUTE TO WIMBLEDON GLORY
  • 1st round: Beat Jo Durie (GB) 6-3, 6-2
    2nd round: Beat Betsy Nagelsen (US) 6-2, 6-1
    3rd round: Beat Yvonne Vermaak (SA) 6-1, 6-2
    4th round: Beat Mariana Simionescu (Rom) 9-7*, 6-3
    Quarter-final: Beat No 6 seed Rosie Casals (US) 7-5, 6-2
    Semi-final: Beat No 1 seed Chris Evert, (US) 6-2, 4-6, 6-1
    Final: Beat No 7 seed Betty Stove (Neth) 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
  • *Tie-breaks at 6-6 were not introduced at Wimbledon until 1979

Betty Stove — The Dutch player was in the remarkable position of making all three finals at Wimbledon in 1977

I woke up feeling probably a little bit edgy. I went through everything the day before playing against Sue Barker so I knew what to expect from the crowd after the semi-final. I was also very busy with the doubles and mixed doubles. I consider myself a total player. I think I was the last player to play in three events.

There was fuss around it and it was my first time in the finals. I practised a little bit, showered and ate a little. You get your flowers and you walk on, I knew to expect that. In the changing room it was quiet, Virginia is not the sort of person to make small chit-chat anyway.

The crowd plays a big, big part when you are facing an English player. I probably did try to withdraw into myself in the changing room but you still have to go through the emotions and hear the applause when you walk on. Fortunately there were chairs for us to sit on. There did not used to be.

I was superstitious with the lines; I was a serve-and-volley player and, being 6ft, going over my head was not that easy. Whenever I left the court or finished the point I had to step over a certain line with a certain foot. If I didn’t do that I had to stay behind the baseline. I had to receive the ball from the ball girl before I stepped over the baseline.

After I won the first set I knew she had to up her game. She might think she has nothing to lose anymore so she will go for it and the crowd were behind her, so I had two opponents. It cost me so much energy getting back to 3-3 in the second set with the noise around me.

I was prepared to fight like an idiot to reach the finals but what I didn’t like, and what hurt me a lot as a runner-up, was that you got your medal and went back to your chair and that was the end of it. These days you get a plate. You need two players to make a match.

My tournament didn’t finish, I had the mixed and the doubles semi-finals to play. I went to the dressing room to shower and then did a little bit of press but not for too long because I had two other matches to play, it was a tiring night. I have no idea which came next. I won them both and then the next day I played doubles and mixed doubles finals and I lost them both.

It was heartbreaking but what was really nice was that when I came out of the clubhouse on the Saturday night, there were 150 people waiting to sing “For She’s A Jolly Good Fellow” and that uplifted me more than anything else.

The whole of 1977 was a great year for me, I reached the semi-finals of the US Open and I won the doubles and the mixed doubles there.

The photograph in my mind of that day is that you walk up with the flowers and you curtsy in front of the Queen at the beginning. I was able to walk on there and then fight for something I believe in. Now I look at my career and what I’ve done for tennis and the WTA, as a president of the players’ association, and the ITF, as a member of its committee of management, I gave back a lot and taught players like Jana Novotna, Hana Mandlikova and Kristie Boogert. I gave it my all. You have no private life, nothing, but I have no regrets.
 

PDJ

G.O.A.T.
Part Two

Christine Truman Janes — Commentated on the match for BBC Radio 2 and had reached the final at Wimbledon in 1961, losing to Angela Mortimer Barrett

It felt special, the Queen was coming and everyone was wondering if she would stay and watch the tennis, knowing it’s not her favourite sport. We all know now she had lunch and did stay to watch but in the morning it was a case of “would she, wouldn’t she?” It was a little unreal.

Virginia was predicted to beat Betty Stove but Stove had beaten Martina Navratilova in the quarter-finals so it was all up in the air. It was an exciting build-up that year.

The crowd were urging on Virginia to win. It was the jubilee and everything fell into place. I knew Virginia over the years and I saw her parents after the final and they were quite overwhelmed, her mother particularly. It was a big day and people have never forgotten it.

I had to give a picture in words on the radio. Virginia had on a special Teddy Tinling creation for the day. She had an athletic figure and would have looked good in a sack, to be honest. She was a star and still is.

Having been in the final myself it meant I wasn’t speaking out of turn having been there and felt that and done that. It means you don’t come across as fake.

Virginia had been erratic, not always living up to expectations. You always knew Chris Evert would be cool but Virginia was slightly prone to being unpredictable. I felt it was a matter of getting going on the day and not becoming overwhelmed. I felt it was beyond Betty to win.

It was a nervy day all round, the tennis was nervy. It all felt different with the Queen there. It was a memorable day and special day.

I felt Virginia’s win was deserved, she had been knocking on the door and had a game that was capable of victory at Wimbledon. She had beaten Evert, the No 1 seed, in the semis so she had the game to topple the big players.

Virginia was aggressive and not so reliable from the back of the court — to stay in long rallies was not her forte. She and Betty had similar games but Virginia had more flair and talent than Betty.

John Beddington — Member of All England Club, who worked on the Grand Prix tennis circuit

I was in the members’ section next to the Royal Box, 20 yards from the Queen, behind and to the left of her. When the game was on we all forgot she was there and she became another spectator. I felt it was a big occasion, the first year the Queen had been there since 1962. For her to come, knowing that she is not particularly interested in tennis, and to see the first British finalist since Ann Jones, it was a big deal.

I don’t recall any special arrangements. We didn’t know the Queen was going to be there until shortly beforehand. There was a buzz around the club that morning but I don’t recall anything in advance of that.

We had breakfast at home, I drove to the club, had lunch with the members, and then enjoyed the match.

I knew both Betty and Virginia and was definitely rooting for Virginia at every single point and when she lost that first set we were nervous she was going to have a wobbly.

I wasn’t embarrassed by the partisan nature of the crowd. They were biased but when Betty played well they gave her her due. I think the crowd were pretty fair. We all kind of expected Virginia to win. Betty played pretty well until the third set, when Virginia overwhelmed her really.

Virginia was in very solid form from about the middle of the second set. If she had been nervous, she got rid of that and played much better. She played her normal, slightly aggressive game, which worked.

I was thrilled to have been there the day she won, we have been good friends for over 40 years. I was honoured to give the speech at her 60th birthday dinner.

She was determined, certainly one of the most intelligent tennis players I have come across and her intelligence helped her on court. She was a smart player, albeit occasionally nervous.

It was spine-tingling, that day. We have had occasional really great moments at Wimbledon and that’s in the top two or three. One or two of Roger Federer’s wins have been pretty special. That day, we’ll never replicate. Maybe a British player will win on the Queen’s 100th birthday, but it is one of the very special days since I’ve been going to Wimbledon.

• Virginia Wade was talking to The Times courtesy of Lanson International, official suppliers of champagne to Wimbledon.
 
Kids got the day off from school to watch the final? That is something both really cool and, as an American...a little bizarre.

Its something to see both ladies and their interpretations of both the final and build up. You don't see stuff like this today. Reading them both talk about their pre-match interactions, how formal Wade seemed and how Stove just was like "well she doesn't make chit chat"....its sort of a weird behind the scenes moment haha.

Thanks for posting this
 

PDJ

G.O.A.T.
I had the day off school. It really was magical. I was just about young enough to remember it, plus being from a tennis family it was HUGE in our household.
I recall many people came to watch it at our house in our very small village.
 
I had the day off school. It really was magical. I was just about young enough to remember it, plus being from a tennis family it was HUGE in our household.
I recall many people came to watch it at our house in our very small village.
Thats pretty cool. I'm born and raised in Boston...which has its share of sports history. I remember as a kit, when the Boston Red Sox finally won the world series after an almost 90 year drought and there was this huge celebratory parade, not only were schools not closed some schools actually threatened to suspend kids if they skipped school to go to the parade. Talk about a different world haha.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
I think in 2017 to celebrate 40 years.
That sounds logical but this comment from the interview with John Beddington makes me doubt it:

"It was spine-tingling, that day. We have had occasional really great moments at Wimbledon and that’s in the top two or three. One or two of Roger Federer’s wins have been pretty special. That day, we’ll never replicate. Maybe a British player will win on the Queen’s 100th birthday, but it is one of the very special days since I’ve been going to Wimbledon."

If he said this only last year why would he make no reference to Murray's 2 wins??? o_O
 

PDJ

G.O.A.T.
That sounds logical but this comment from the interview with John Beddington makes me doubt it:

"It was spine-tingling, that day. We have had occasional really great moments at Wimbledon and that’s in the top two or three. One or two of Roger Federer’s wins have been pretty special. That day, we’ll never replicate. Maybe a British player will win on the Queen’s 100th birthday, but it is one of the very special days since I’ve been going to Wimbledon."

If he said this only last year why would he make no reference to Murray's 2 wins??? o_O
I'll check.
Maybe he's not a Murray fan :)

Edit: definitely NOT a Murray fan. 1st July 2017. Possibly 40 years to the day Wade won Wimbledon, given Finals would fall around then given the tournament used to finish on a Saturday and the ladies being on the Friday.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
I'll check.
Maybe he's not a Murray fan :)

Edit: definitely NOT a Murray fan. 1st July 2017. Possibly 40 years to the day Wade won Wimbledon, given Finals would fall around then given the tournament used to finish on a Saturday and the ladies being on the Friday.
Thanks. That would be precisely 40 years as Wade's Wimbledon win occurred on 1st July 1977.

As for Beddington (whoever the heck he is), that just completely destroyed his credibility as far as I'm concerned and spoiled what was otherwise a really good article! :rolleyes:
 
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Mainad

Bionic Poster
Kids got the day off from school to watch the final? That is something both really cool and, as an American...a little bizarre.
Thats pretty cool. I'm born and raised in Boston...which has its share of sports history. I remember as a kit, when the Boston Red Sox finally won the world series after an almost 90 year drought and there was this huge celebratory parade, not only were schools not closed some schools actually threatened to suspend kids if they skipped school to go to the parade. Talk about a different world haha.
Don't recall any schools being closed in the UK on that day. These days it wouldn't be an issue anyway as Wimbledon finals are now played over the weekend (ladies on Saturday, men on Sunday).
 
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PDJ

G.O.A.T.
Don't recall any schools being closed in the UK on that day. These days it wouldn't be an issue anyway as Wimbledon finals are now played over the weekend (ladies on Saturday, men on Sunday).
We definitely had the day off.
 

PDJ

G.O.A.T.
Thanks. That would be precisely 40 years as Wade's Wimbledon win occurred on 1st July 1977.

As for Beddington (whoever the heck he is), that just completely destroyed his credibility as far as I'm concerned and spoiled what was otherwise a really good article! :rolleyes:
He's only one view of four. Plus he may not genuinely think Murray winning was special to him.
It really wasn't for me. Happy he won, but didn't watch the match as I've never especially cared for him.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
He's only one view of four. Plus he may not genuinely think Murray winning was special to him.
It really wasn't for me. Happy he won, but didn't watch the match as I've never especially cared for him.
Personal feelings don't enter into it. The fact remains that Murray ended a 77 year drought of male Wimbledon champions and not to acknowledge that or pretend it somehow never happened when practically the whole country was enthralled by what happened that day is frankly ridiculous and dishonest. It goes directly to the heart of a tennis commentator's integrity and objectivity. Beddington simply comes across as an ignorant and hopelessly biased fool, declaring how much Wade's win meant to him and then pretending nothing like it has ever happened at Wimbledon since? Honest and objective tennis fans will never be able to take him seriously again.
 
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