Well, that scene on Centre Court today certainly wasn't Suzanne Lenglen-Mrs. Lambert Chambers all over again. Right? Okay, for the one or two of you in Olney who might have forgotten that bit of Wimbledon lore, we'll slip back to 1919 when . . .
The women's singles holder and seven times champion, Mrs. Chambers, defended against French prodigy Lenglen. The champ was 40, the challenger 20, and after two tough, tense sets Mrs. Chambers needed a belt of brandy.
It didn't help.
At 4-5 and 15-40 of the third set, the match got tipped Lenglen's way on two net-cord points: she went on to dominate Wimbledon for years.
There was a time, not too many years ago, when Martina Navratilova's mind would come undone in matches the world cares for: now that happens only to her skirt at Wimbledon. Four finals, four titles.
Navratilova spent hours on practice courts and minutes in matches these last two weeks. In 54 minutes today, she dispatched the player rated third in the world, the teen-aged base line-bopper, Andrea Jaeger.
Jaeger got broken so swiftly, the first set lasting just 16 minutes, that many went scurrying for the record book. Could this be the shortest final in women's singles history, briefer even than the 25 minutes Mrs. Chambers needed for that love-love number she did on Miss P.D.H. Boothby in 1911?
Jaeger also sensed that.
"I was looking at the (scoreboard) clock and going, 'Oh, great. I'd better take my time on these changes,' " she later allowed, taking the rout in good humor.
For Navratilova, this day was another chance to forehand herself deeper in the minds of those who rate tennis immortals, another step toward making that neat little Wimbledon museum tucked high and away from the traffic here.
Grand as it was, this fourth Wimbledon victory won't nearly do it. You could get two doubles teams out of the other women who have managed at least as well. Mrs. Chambers won seven titles, Helen Wills Moody won eight.
Get cracking, Martina.
Surprisingly, given that a great deal of male chauvinism still abounds at Wimbledon, one comes face to face almost immediately inside the museum with an oil portrait of a woman, Mrs. K. Godfree, singles champion in '24 and '26.
That's even before you begin a tour that includes the admission that the Egyptians were playing a game not unlike tennis 4,000 years before the first Wimbledon tournament. And that the courts here were bombed 16 times during World War II.
Probably, Navratilova could have beaten Jaeger today wearing the necktie, long-sleeved shirt, ankle-length skirt and what look like combat boots Muriel Robb was bound by during her victory in 1902.
If she minds her business, Navratilova might one time fairly soon see a large, action picture of herself near those of the two Helens, Wills and Jacobs. Or, at the very least, join the montage that includes Pauline Betz Addie, Doris Hart, Althea Gibson and Maria Bueno.
Navratilova is so dominant now, at 26, winning 135 of her last 139 matches, that she is asked, quite seriously, how she might fare against men professionals. She does not give that question a flip reply.
"I think I would qualify for some events," she said. "I know for sure that I'd get better. I'm quicker than some of the men, but all of them are stronger. That's the big difference. Strength. I know I could take a game from anybody, but it would be difficult winning matches.
"The biggest difference is first serve. A man's first serve is so tough to return. If they had only one serve, it would be a different ball game."
On grass, it's a different ball game for Jaeger against Navratilova.
"I thought I had a chance," Jaeger said, "if I returned well and got in deep first serves. Sometimes, she can get rattled."
She didn't today.
"Oh, well," Jaeger sighed.
Every inroad Navratilova makes in history also reminds us of her sad side, that her family must huddle near the Czech-East German border to pick up radio reports of her important matches. She is mentioned in her native-land papers, she said, but not lauded.
What's Navatrilova's incentive now?
"To get better," she insisted. "Like I didn't serve that well today. Why? I don't know. I think I can think a little better on the court. And the backhand. I can't complain about it, but it can be a lot better. So, for me, it's reaching for potential I know is there. And until I get there I won't stop. Hopefully, it won't take me 12 years to do that."
Two or three times this sunny afternoon, it seemed as though the zebras the National Football League lets loose in the fall had stumbled into Wimbledon. One call that would have given Jaeger break point in the sixth game of the second set, seemed inches out. Jaeger took that well.
"This definitely has been the highlight of my career," she said. "I'd never beaten anyone great at Wimbledon (before trouncing Billie Jean King in the semifinals Thursday). Usually, I lost before my seed."
She volunteered that all the protocol here had her baffled.
"In fact, I forgot to curtsy (after being presented the runner-up medal by the Duke of Kent)," she said. "I'd never been through something like that before. Usually at tournaments, they give you a check, you thank everybody and leave.
"This was a great experience for me. I'm still learning."
The rest of sport is learning of Navratilova's brilliance.
"So athletic, so confident," said Virginia Wade. "Like a finely tuned sports car. Everybody else is a regular model; she's a Ferrari."