Screengrab of the Hindustan Times on September 15, 1970.
Screengrab of the Hindustan Times on September 15, 1970.

HT THIS DAY: Sept 15, 1970— ‘Maggie’ court achieves grand slam — a rare feat in tennis history

A record crowd of 14,502 saw the exciting Rosewall-Roche centre court duel reach its climax in the third set which, after an exchange of breaks, went into a sudden-death tie break
By Associated Press, Forest Hills New York
UPDATED ON SEP 15, 2021 12:17 AM IST

Mrs Margaret Court became the toast of the tennis world here yesterday as she became the second woman after “Little Mo” to achieve the coveted grand slam by adding the U.S. title to her Australian, French and Wimbledon crowns. Tall, athletic Perth housewife Maggie made history with a facile 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 win over Rosemary Casals (U.S.) in the final.

Maureen Connolly was the first woman star to bring off the mighty sweep of four major titles in one season in 1953. It was such a feat that evaded such immortals as Suzanne Lenglen, Helen Wills, Helen Jacobs and Althea Gibson. Mrs Court has now won nine Australian titles, three French, three Wimbledon and four U.S. crowns plus numerous others.

The U.S. men’s title went to Ken Rosewall who overcame fellow Tony Roche 2-6, 6-4, 7-6, 6-3 in the final.

A record crowd of 14,502 saw the exciting Rosewall-Roche centre court duel reach its climax in the third set which, after an exchange of breaks, went into a sudden-death tie break.

It obviously was the turning point of the match.

The sudden death is a new scoring system introduced this year on a trial basis to effect at terminal point in tennis. When the score reaches, 6-6, the competitors play best five of-nine points, alternating services.

Roche had the first two services. Rosewall won the first point on a perfectly-played lazy lob Roche next netted a high backhand volley.

Rosewall led 2-0 and he had two services coming up. Rosewall, now serving, put out a volley but on the next point he zipped a forehand volley like a gun-shot past Roche’s racket. He led 3-1.

The serve shifted to Roche, Rosewall scored on a forehand return for 4-1. Roche served and smashed for 4-2. On the next point, after a long and excitive rally, Roche overhit a backhand and the set went to Rosewall. It was all downhill after that for Roche.

Roche was broken again in the second game of the fourth set. Rosewall, sensing victory, never relaxed, returning balls with fantastic sharpness and accuracy, and proceed to serve out the set and the match.

The women’s final played before a sell-out crowd of more than 14,000 at the West Side Tennis Club produced patchy, erratic tennis. In the final analysis, Mrs Court was simply too strong and too good.

Rosemary obviously was shaken by the increased ferocity of the Australian’s attack. Her service became more tentative, she double-faulted four times and her ground shots lost the grip they had in the second set.

A perfectly-executed backhand lob gave the rangy Australian a second service break in the sixth game and little ‘Rosie’ had spent her ammunition.

Mrs Court methodically served out the set and the match.

The first set produced lack-luster tennis with neither competitor playing to her full potential. Rosemary excited the gallery by winning her first service at love and hanging on for 2-2 through the first four games. But Mrs Court took charge and won the last four games of the set in a row.

The first prize was $7,500 ( 56.250). Miss Casals received $3750 (RS 28,125).

For a few tense moments, it appeared that Mrs Court might not make it. In the second set, Mrs Court lost her composure and timing completely.

She dropped three straight services in the third, fifth and seventh games-making errors on the simplest of shots. In the seventh game, she double-faulted, hit a forehand over the back line and dumped two volleys into the net.

Broken at love, she seemed despondent and merely went through the motions as Rosemary served out the set, clinching it with a looping forehand down the line. During that surge, the 21-year-old American won nine straight points.

But it was a different Mrs Court who answered the call for the final set. She hammered out the first game on service, broke Rosemary in the second and held again for a 3-0 lead.

Rosewall, a semi-finalist here as far back as 1953, became the second oldest player to win the title. Only Bill Tilden, who won it for the last time in 1929 at the age of 36, was older.

In the mixed doubles final, Mrs Court teamed with Marty Riessen (U.S.) to defeat Judy Dalton (Australia) and Frew McMillan (South Africa) 6-4, 6-4.

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