A Q&A With Virginia Wade, 1968 U.S. Open Champion

A Q&A With Virginia Wade, 1968 U.S. Open Champion

No.

Really?

I mean, I was excited to play Billie Jean. Billie was always like somebody who really wanted to help other players. And she, so she had communicated with me quite a lot. I mean, the one thing was, you know, Billie really gave you a lot. But if you began to get competitive with her, she didn’t really want that.

Which is normal, really.

Absolutely normal. So, by that time I had realized that I had to, you know, distance myself a little bit from her, because she was very — Billie was very powerful, and. …

Amazing mental capacity.

Yeah.

You were intimidated.

Yeah. It’s just that it was going really well. I wasn’t really having any trouble in these matches. I was very happy with just getting there. And then when I get to the final and I’m like, “Oh my God, I’m in the final.” And then we played after — the men played the semis, and that went on and on and on. And we were running out of daylight.

And I’m sitting in that dressing room down in Forest Hills, which is still there looking just the same. And I was sitting there thinking, “I’ve got to win this match because I may never be in the final again.” So I decided — I just made the big decision I was going to win it, and I won it. And I think my serve was probably at its best in those days.

Yeah, you had a beautiful serve.

It was very natural then. And then as time went by it wasn’t quite as fluid, I don’t think. Like somebody said to me: “Ginny, you used to have such an easy serve. What happened to your serve?” And, you know, unfortunately stress enters into it.

I want to go back to that final against Billie. I mean, you were the massive underdog.

Yeah, sure.

What made you feel as confidently as you did, and how difficult was it to play against somebody who was so dynamic and strong-willed as Billie Jean King?

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