Somehow, it seemed the perfect ending to a perfectly strange Wimbledon. John -- not Chris Evert -- Lloyd today became the member of the family to claim a Wimbledon championship this year.
As his wife looked on, Lloyd and partner Wendy Turnbull defeated Steve Denton and Billie Jean King to win the mixed doubles championship, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-5), 7-5.In the process, Lloyd became the first British male since 1936 to win any sort of Wimbledon championship and he deprived King of her 21st Wimbledon title and the Americans of their first sweep of all major titles since 1939.
For once, King declined to speak to the press. The press office said she sent her regrets but was "tired from the championships." At age 39, with countless matches and the disappointing loss to Andrea Jaeger in the semifinals behind her, she was entitled to remain mum for once.
King has said she will decide about her tennis future after the U.S. Open. Turnbull fully expects to see King here next year. "As they said in the Newspapers, Billie will be playing everyone's grandchildren," she said.
For Turnbull and Lloyd, winners of the mixed doubles at the French Open last year, it was a particularly sweet victory, having lost in the final here last year. For Lloyd, who has not won a singles title since 1974, it was a chance to stand apart and on his own. "We're married and we're a team," he said. "It doesn't bother me if she's the more famous one. I don't have a big ego that way. It's good for my self-respect that I won a Wimbledon title. But it's not like I'm trying to get one up on Chris."
Evert lost to Kathy Jordan in the third round, the first major upset in the tournament. "It's been disappointing in one way," Lloyd said. "Chris has been great the way she's reacted to it.She's gotten as excited as I did about the mixed. She's rebounded fantastically from the disappointment."
Lloyd, whose ranking has dropped from 33 in 1977 to 326 now, handled the predictable inquiries with humor and elan. "I did look at the prize money for the mixed which is phenomenal (Lloyd's share was $40,140). I thought, "That's a nice little bonus." To think, "I earned more than Chris this week . . ." She earns more the other 364 days, it doesn't bother me."
Not since 1936, when Fred Perry won the singles title and Pat Hughes and Raymond Tuckey won the doubles has a British male been a Wimbledon champion. Lloyd and Turnbull, the second seeds, beat Denton and King, the first seeds, by breaking King's serve in the 12th game of the final set. King and Denton had already saved a match point, two games earlier. But Lloyd hit a forehand volley between them for match point and a forehand return winner for the championship.
"I thought it was going in," Lloyd said. "Then I saw her leave it. In that space of time, I thought, "It's going out." Then I heard everyone cheer. It dropped in."
They won despite the overwhelming advantage of Denton's fearsome serve. "It's a challenge," Turnbull said, smiling. "I just try to get a racket on it. I'm not afraid of it. If I was afraid of it, I'd be standing behind the fence."
Lloyd glanced at his partner, their timing as perfect as ever and said, "I thought you took life insurance out."