Not a bee in her bonnet but a bee on her bustle was Pam Shriver's only worry this rainy day at Wimbledon. The wide gulf in women's tennis between the best and the rest was seldom more apparent than in Shriver's 6-4, 6-1 domination of Kathy Rinaldi. The world's No. 7-rated player made the 16th look like a nervous kid 15 years old, which Rinaldi was today in her first appearance on Centre Court.
Everyone expected No. 1 Martina Navratilova to waltz past Anne White, as she did, 6-1, 6-4, in another third-round match as rain from morning to late afternoon limited play to a few women's matches. The delay threw Wimbledon 120 matches in arrears and raised the possibility the tournament might run past its scheduled finale July 4.
Of other seeds, only No. 14 Andrea Leand was beaten, losing, 7-5, 6-2, to Claudia Kohde. Anne Smith (13) and Virginia Ruzici (15) won in straight sets.
Rinaldi, unlike White, had a longshot's chance against the seventh-seeded Shriver, who on days she can't get out of her own gangly, 6-foot-3 way is vulnerable to the patient, clay-court, moon-balling style that made Rinaldi the tour's youngest pro last summer.
Rinaldi promptly broke Shriver's serve to begin the match, possibly, Shriver was to say later, because the 6 1/2-hour rain delay had given her so much time to worry about losing to this youngster in full view of the sophisticated Centre Court tennis patrons.
Shriver, at 19, a veteran of four years on tour, said, "If I was relaxed, I'd have won 6-1 and 6-1 because Kathy's not strong enough to do on grass courts what needs to be done." By that, the Baltimorean meant Rinaldi's serve is a powder-puff job so weak even the first serve can be attacked on return.
So Shriver promptly broke back to make it 1-1, and after the first-set victory the only fun was in watching an episode that the London scandal-sheet newspapers might dub, "killer bees at Centre Court."
Photographers shouted to Shriver during a change of ends in the second set.
"They were saying my 'right' something," Shriver said. "I looked at my arm, my side. They said, 'No, on your right cheek.' " Deftly she swept the bee off her bustle and shortly thereafter a bee stung Rinaldi inside the left bicep. During a change, Shriver extracted the bee's stinger from Rinaldi's arm and applied a cream from a tube thrown onto the court by a fan in the fourth row.
"It was a bee cream, I mean it had a picture of a bee on it," Shriver said. "These English think of everything."
Returning to play with a 4-1 lead in the second, Shriver hammed it up by stomping on an imaginary bee at the base line. The English chuckled, and chair umpire Catherine McTavish joined in, announcing on her microphone, "a penalty point, Miss Shriver, for killing it."
For Shriver, the first significant match of this tournament won't come until early next week when, if form holds, she will meet Barbara Potter in the quarterfinals with Chris Evert Lloyd likely to be in the Shriver bracket semifinal.
For Navratilova, she may not have a significant match until the field of 96 women is narrowed to her and one last victim. In 57 minutes today, she not only served irresistibly but mixed in the delicate touches of deftness that have helped her win 50 of 51 matches this year.
"I was serving great," the 1978-79 Wimbledon champion said, "and I was loose as a goose . . . I used the lob quite effectively."
Shriver said the rain delay was not a total loss. "Want to hear a joke Martina did with Virginia Wade?" She asked. "Anybody have a 10 note?"
The newspapermen dug deep and found a 5 note.
"Now, look at it and find a dairy product and a movie title," Shriver said.
Nobody could find such.
"Give it to me," Shriver said. She dramatically held up the 5 note and slowly ripped it down the middle.
"Half and Half," she said, smiling, "And 'Gone With The Wind.' "
She tossed the bill into the air.