Convincing pair of champions at Wimbledon
Wimbledon, England — So the memorable 1984 Wimbledon is over. And the tennis world, having seen seven great finals, knows it has eight great champions. Two of course tower above the rest - Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe.
If one places Martina first it is not just because this tournament marked the centenary of women's competitive tennis and, therefore, was something special. She is at the peak of her playing powers, the winner of five consecutive Grand Slam tournaments. Most experts speak of her as easily the best woman tennis player and possibly the best of all time. Her performance here supported this opinion, as she beat Chris Evert Lloyd 7-6, 6-2 to become a five-time singles champion, then added a sixth doubles title.
McEnroe became someone very special too. Three times singles champion, six times men's doubles champion with Peter Fleming, he played flawless tennis to defeat Jimmy Connors 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in the most one-sided men's final since 1938. But more than that, his behavior on court was flawless too, as it had been throughout the tournament.
Thus McEnroe not only moved farther along the road of becoming one of the all-time great Wimbledon champions, but took some important steps toward becoming, as observers here have always hoped, a good sportsman as well.
The more calmly McEnroe played the better he played. He said later that, yes, he had learned a lesson.
Martina won the women's doubles with Pam Shriver. And for the second year running, Britain's John Lloyd won the mixed with Australia's Wendy Turnbull. For the first time since seeding was introduced in all five major competitions (men's and women's singles and doubles plus the mixed doubles) the five top seeds won each final.
The sixth and seventh ''great finals'' were those for the boys and girls singles. In the girls section the winner was young Annabel Croft of Great Britain, who in the main championship had given even Evert Lloyd a spirited match and who now came from behind to snatch victory from Elna Reinich of South Africa.
Here was the first British girl to win in 27 years. The boys' winner was Mark Kratzmann of Australia, who also beat a South African, Stefan Kruger. This again is a name to remember.
In the men's over-35 singles Stan Smith of the United States, winner of the main title in 1972 when he defeated Ilie Nastase, beat Colin Dibley of Australia in two sets.
The most unusual player in the tournament was American Luke Jensen, who played in the juniors and who can (and does) serve either right-handed or left-handed at will. ''I won a lot of first sets,'' he remarked.
McEnroe, distrusted by the press on his arrival, left Wimbledon a media hero. He has inherited the title given to one of Britain's favorite prime ministers, Harold Macmillan - they call him ''Supermac.''
There is no doubt that his new calmness has enabled him to take his game to new heights.
In the final, Connors won the toss and elected to receive - which may have been a mistake, since McEnroe won that first game easily and was on his way, while Jimmy just never got into the match.
But John played the most marvellous, controlled but powerful tennis. Seventy-five percent of his first serves struck truly home. There were aces galore. He was always in the right position for any return and prepared with the right rhythm. He seemed somehow to slow the ball down, so gentle and graceful was his rhythm.
In the women's singles, Evert Lloyd gave Martina a much tougher match. Chris started by winning three games in a row, breaking Navratilova's service twice. By rights she should have managed to win the first set. But one bad error brought it to a tie-break, which she lost.
By this time Navratilova's serves had become virtually unreturnable, and Chris's chance had well and truly gone. But this was a wonderful example of women's tennis at its very best.
The English weather too conspired to make this a glorious Wimbledon. One cannot remember weather quite so fine, so warm, so still for so long (except in some distant childhood). Monday the rains came. But it will take more than rain to wash out the memory of this superb tournament.