Navratilova, McEnroe rule Wimbledon
This year's tournament at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club will be long remembered. It was the tournament of superlatives. Two champions in the classic mold confirmed their total supremacy - John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova. And both are champions this year in singles and in doubles, McEnroe with Peter Fleming, Navratilova with Pam Shriver.
Players emerged from the shadows and played as they had never done before. Chris Evert Lloyd's husband John, whose ranking had fallen to 362nd, won the mixed doubles championship with Australia's Wendy Turnbull, thereby becoming the first Englishman to win a Wimbledon title since Fred Perry 47 years ago.
Chris Lewis of New Zealand, ranked No. 91, clawed his way through the 128 -player draw to win a place in the men's singles final. He was no match for McEnroe, but his semi-final tussle with South Africa's Kevin Curren will be remembered as one of the finest and fiercest battles ever to grace the centre court.
Arrangements for spectators were immensely improved, as had been those for players. Wimbledon's position as the world's premier tennis tournament was unques-tionably reestablished. And the weather, dry for the whole of the competition, crowned the tournament by providing on the final day one of those memorably perfect English summer afternoons.
McEnroe, who secured his second Wimbledon title, appeared to make his peace with tournament authorities. The crowds treated him as a hero returned.
He won the very one-sided final 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in only 85 minutes, prompting the vanquished Lewis to say afterward, ''McEnroe is in a class apart. There was nothing I could do. He was just far too good. He is an artist with a racket.''
In every tournament like this victory or defeat is to some extent a matter of peaks. Curren reached his peak in his match with Jimmy Connors. He had not lost a service game for a week and in this match served 33 aces against the defending champion. Curren was never quite the same player after that.
Connors may have peaked before the tournament. In the warm-up at Queen's Club he thrashed McEnroe 6-3, 6-3.
Lewis peaked in his semifinal with Curren. In the final his speed of return and his devastating placing of those returns had gone almost completely.
McEnroe however worked up gradually to the peak that set him far above all other men in the tournament. He was deceptively fast, improbably powerful, and in total command of the court.
In the women's singles Navratilova was as far above the other competitors in her section as McEnroe was in his. In the final she handcuffed Andrea Jaeger 6- 0, 6-3 to capture her fourth Wimbledon crown.
The only person who could have seriously challenged her was Evert Lloyd, who entered the tournament in simultaneous possession of titles in the US, Australian, and French Opens for the first time in her career. Unfortunately her bid for a Grand Slam ended when she was upset by unseeded Kathy Jordan 6-1, 7-6. Although unfit at the time of the match, Evert Lloyd played a brave and uncomplaining game. But it did look from the way Martina performed as if she will set a new world standard in women's tennis in the years immediately ahead.
As with Lewis against McEnroe, Jaeger had no reply to Navratilova's brilliance and power. She was hopelessly outclassed. However she is still only 18 and obviously has great years ahead of her too.
Billie Jean King nearly brought her tally of Wimbledon wins to 21. For although put out of the semifinals by Jaeger she reached the finals of the mixed doubles in the last match of the last day on a simply glorious afternoon.
Billie Jean and the immensely powerful Steve Denton finally went down 7-6, 6- 7, 5-7 to the splendid partnership of Turnbull and Lloyd.
For this correspondent, one of the highlights of the tournament was the look on Chris Evert Lloyd's face as her steadfast husband, John, deservedly made his little bit of history. Yes, it was a splendid tournament.
In previously unlisted results, McEnroe and Fleming won an all-American men's doubles final against Tim and Tom Gullikson 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. Navratilova and Shriver (US) defeated Rosie Casals (US) and Wendy Turnbull (Australia) 6-2, 6-2 in the women's doubles.
Stefan Edberg (Sweden) beat John Frawley (Australia) 6-3, 7-6 in the boys' singles, while Pascale Paradis (France) defeated Patricia Hy (Hong Kong) 6-2, 6- 1 in the girls' singles.