The stage is set: Billie Jean King (women's singles champion six times in '66 , '67, '68, '72, '73, and '75) will play Martina Navratilova n1978 and 1979 champion and King's doubles partner); Chris Evert Lloyd (champion in 1974 and again in 1976) will play Andrea Jaeger (first time at Wimbledon and youngest seeded player ever to complete here).
Evonne Goolagong (champion in 1971 and out in the semifinals last year) will play Wendy Turnbull (out at the quarterfinals last year); Tracy Austin (semifinals last year) will play Greer Stevens (her first time reaching the quarterfinals).
Austin is playing well and efficiently. She beat Terry Holladay in straight sets l-2, 6-3 in the fourth round on Monday. Goolagong, facing Betty Stove playing at the top of her form (King says of Stove: "When she's playing well, look out") dropped the first set 6-7, but took the next two 6-3, 6-1. Goolagong is liquid and quick, moving around the court like a disciplined drop of mercury.
And then there is Jaeger, whose two-fisted backhand, down-the-line passing shots, and run-down-every-ball strategy eliminated the 1977 champion, Virginia Wade, in straight sets, 6-2, 7-6.
Jaeger does not have a strong serve, and in the sixth game of the second set in fourth- round play, Wade pushed the youngster to love-40, and broke her service to hold a commanding lead of 4-2. But in the next game, Andrea out-ran and out-lobbed her opponent and broke right back, bringing the score to 4- 3.
It was the tenth game which Jaeger said was the key one. Wade was at 5-4, and Andrea was serving. A short lob from Jaeger set up what should have been a winning slam by her taller and much more experienced British opponent. But Andrea raced to get in position and sent up another lob. Again, Virginia was in a position for a winning slam, and again the youngster from Lincolnshire, Ill., met in behind the baseline and sent up another lob.
Yes, another smash from Wade, but this time a hard drive by Jaeger passed Virginia on the backhand side to bring the score to 5- all.
Asked before the match what she thought of playing a 15-year-old, Wade remarked: "When she plays the way she does, she's not 15, she's 25." Jaeger's two long ponytails, though, present a less-adult look than the wash-and-wear hair styles of King, Navratilova, and Wade.
For the most part she acts fully mature, but her Centre Court match gave Jaeger a challenge. Several times she threw her racket at a passing shot in frustration more than in anger. And once, while retrieving it from in front of the spectator stands, she smartly stepped on to the end of the handle, tipping the head up so that she did not have to bend over ot get it.
Yet, such antics were few. What was dominant was a tireless consistency and total concentration. And also some clever strategy as she several times lured Wade up to the net on a short drive up the middle, then passed her with a backhand winner.
Asked where she thought she needed to improve, Andrea graciously replied, "My serving and my volleying." And she was gracious, too, about the partisan spectators, who had good reason to cheer for Wade, the only remaining Briton in the singles competition. "I thought the audience clapped even: They were fair," Andrea said, adding that Wade played very well in the second set. And almost with a sigh remarked, "She's very hard to beat off the baseline."
But beat her she did, setting up Andrea to play Evert Lloyd in the quarterfinals. When Andrea was just seven years old in 1972, the 17-year-old Evert progressed to Wimbledon's semifinals, where she lost to Goolagong.
But this is 1980, and the world's hardly standing still. Evert, after several yers of dominating the women's circuit, has married and begun to contemplate retirement. Navratilova has been busy securing a niche among the game's greats, and now Austin and Jaeger are knocking on the door. It's not inconceivable that the door will swing open this year and a teen-age tigress walk through.