Skip to main content
Original Issue


This was the season in which Jimmy Connors (right), baseline slugger and return-of-serve artist, discovered the serve-and-volley. And, by Jimbo, it served Connors well. First, in a meeting of tennis' reformed and reigning enfants terribles, he won Wimbledon with an untidy 3-6, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 outlasting of John McEnroe. Then, two months later, in the finals of the U.S. Open, Connors came up against Ivan Lendl, who earlier in the year had won 44 consecutive matches. This time Connors needed just four sets to triumph. Not since 1974 had he won the two major majors in the same year. Martina Navratilova took the women's title at Wimbledon, beating Chris Evert Lloyd in three sets, and afterwards she was interrupted in the tub by friends who laved her in swells of champagne. It was an appropriate enough ending to a cold and wet fortnight, in which a number of the top men didn't play: Lendl said he was allergic to grass, then went off to play golf; Argentina's Guillermo Vilas and Jose-Luis Clerc boycotted on account of the war in the Falklands; Bjorn Borg didn't qualify, and you can't let just anyone play Wimbledon. Evert Lloyd won the U.S. Open after Martina was upset in the quarters and then Chris went on to gain her first Australian Open win ever. But Navratilova came roaring back in the Toyota Championships, beating Evert Lloyd 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 to finish the year No. 1 in the world.

Connors and McEnroe topped the charts, but a 17-year-old Swede named Mats Wilander was coming up fast. He raced through the French Open field with successive upsets of Lendl, Vitas Gerulaitis, Clerc and Vilas to become the youngest champion in the history of the event, outdoing even his countryman, Borg, who was 87 days older when he first won the French. While the men's tour laid out a welcome for Mats, Wimbledon warily watched the return of the old lady, Billie Jean King. After the public airing of her affair with her former secretary, Marilyn Barnett, many had wondered if King would ever play again. The answer was a resounding yes. At 38, she outfoxed and outslugged 19-year-old Tracy Austin to become the oldest player to reach the Wimbledon semifinals in more than a half century.

The computer had Mac No. 1, but Jimbo got his jugular at Wimbledon.

Pam Shriver ousted Navratilova, her doubles partner, at the Open.

Vilas, clayboy and playboy, didn't wince at dating Princess Caroline.

King's triumphant return to Wimbledon after a year-long self-exile included a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 quarterfinal upset of Austin, who was half her age.

Evert-Lloyd won the U.S. Open after a bout with bad cheesecake, but Martina was more fetching at Wimbledon.

Navratilova eyeballed more money—$1,475,055—in one year than any woman athlete ever.

Clerc (right) finished No. 6 in the world, though he was a victim in Wilander's (below) sweep through the field at the French Open.