Jimmy Connors, who will be 33 in September, is asked almost daily how long he plans to keep playing. He is noncommittal. But he does say he is changing his mind about playing 35-and-over tournaments.
"I used to think if I couldn't play with the big boys I didn't want to play at all," he said. "But now I see a lot of the guys I came up with playing or getting ready to play in them. Guys like Dick Stockton, Harold Solomon, Brian Gottfried. Now, I'm thinking it might be fun. We'll see."
At the other end of the scale is Gabriela Sabatini. There is considerable concern among tennis people that she is playing too much and facing too much pressure for a 15-year-old, especially in light of burnout cases like Tracy Austin and Andrea Jaeger.
Sabatini was supposed to go home after the French Open three weeks ago but came here because, according to her coach, Patricio Apey, "She wanted to."
That riles tennis people who think that Apey and her agents at ProServ are asking too much of Sabatini. She is scheduled, in addition to tournaments between now and the U.S. Open, to play World Team Tennis in Florida. The reason? Apey coaches the team there.
When someone told Pam Shriver the other day that Sabatini was playing in the revived league run by Billie Jean King, Shriver said, "Team tennis for her? Boy, that's really . . ." She stopped in midsentence, just short of the word "stupid," and continued, "That's really, uh, tough." She added, "I don't want to get Billie Jean mad at me." The Last Word
Some other highlights of the first week:
Peter Fleming, frustrated by the lack of bounce on the damp courts during his four-day, five-set loss to Vitas Gerulaitis, after taking another in a series of falls: "This isn't tennis, this is Laurel and Hardy."
Jimmy Arias, angered by calls from the chair during his five-set loss to Jay Lapidus, turning to the umpire: "Are you his dad?"
Lloyd Bourne, to another umpire: "You guys make calls like that and, when we complain, we get the reputation for being jerks."
John McEnroe, responding to Arthur Ashe's comment that the grass court surfaces might someday be removed at Wimbledon: "Why listen to him? What the hell does Arthur Ashe have to do with today?" And then, "Isn't he the guy who said Wilander was a major threat to win here?" (Yes, but he wasn't alone.)
Eliot Teltscher, on why he hadn't played Wimbledon for eight years: "This may be hard for you people to believe, but there is a world out there. People do still do other things while Wimbledon is going on."