Travel, TV and Breakfast at Wimbledon
As a child, my family typically traveled on or around the July 4th holiday. Like most vacations, outings and visiting family members factored into our schedule. However, few outings other than going to church with relatives occur on Sunday mornings. I was 6 years old at the time and recorded my first specific tennis memory. My father did (and still does) play tennis. I knew that he liked tennis at age 6. He and my mother also followed tennis tournaments at this time. I certainly watched tennis prior to this, but the 1982 Wimbledon final is the first match that I remember to this day. It was a good match to get me started as a tennis fan.
Jimmy Connors trailed 3-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-6 at this point
The first thing I remember about this match is that my parents were rooting for different players. My father was pulling for McEnroe, and my mother was pulling for Connors. It was rare for me to see them divided on anything including sports (both love the University of Kentucky’s basketball team). In my mind, I had to choose who I would favor and chose Connors largely due to my tendency at that time to disagree with my father. I became a Lakers fan in the 1980s in large part due to his love of the Boston Celtics.
The second thing I remember is how intense both players were. I did not know or understand what was at stake, but it did strike me that these two players did not want to lose. There were also some cool exchanges at the net in terms of one player hitting a volley and the other guy reacting by volleying off a winner (see the above video). I don’t remember much else about this match other than liking tennis a lot after seeing it.
What I did not know at that time was that John McEnroe had taken over the number one ranking in 1981. Bjorn Borg retired and had Connors not had his 1982 resurgence prior to Ivan Lendl coming into his own, McEnroe might have owned tennis for 4 years. I did not know that Connors had not won a Grand Slam title since 1978 and had not won Wimbledon since 1974. I did not know that Connors had defeated McEnroe in the Queen’s Club championship a few weeks earlier giving him confidence prior to this match. None of that registered for me as a 6 year old viewer. Looking back, this win helped redefine Jimmy Connors’ career, and it prevented McEnroe from fully dominating the tour until 1984. Jimmy Connors defeating John McEnroe 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-4 and winning his second Wimbledon title had historical significance.
1974 to 1982: Worth the Wait & Classic Fist Pump at 3:32