One week of rain, one week of ended reigns. That was Wimbledon 1985.
John McEnroe lost his Wimbledon title and could find his standing as the world's No. 1 tennis player in doubt before the summer is over. Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl, McEnroe's crown princes, not only were beaten, they were embarrassed. And even though Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert Lloyd remained firmly established as the dominant women's players, Navratilova and Pam Shriver were beaten in doubles in what was among the most stunning upsets of the fortnight.
But the major post-tournament question is this: Will this be remembered as Boris Becker's Wimbledon or as the Wimbledon that spawned Boris Becker?
The 17-year-old West German displayed power and poise perhaps never seen before in one so young -- including Bjorn Borg -- on his way to the men's championship. What might be more remarkable about Becker's victory is this: Leonardo Aavalle of Mexico, the junior champion, is four months older than Becker.
"I've faced harder serves, but I can't ever remember facing one that was so consistently well placed," said Kevin Curren, who lost the final to Becker in four sets, 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, on Sunday. "He certainly has the talent to be the No. 1 player in the world."
Becker, whose victory was worth far more than the $163,800 it brought, conceded Sunday that winning this championship will change his life. He knows that he no longer will be merely a prodigy. Now, he is a bona fide star. As she watched her son, dressed in a white dinner suit, walk through the hotel lobby en route to the champions' dinner Sunday evening, Elvire Becker said, "He's not our little boy any more."
In fact, Becker's performance here places him firmly in the No. 5 spot in the world, behind McEnroe, Lendl, Connors and Mats Wilander. McEnroe's 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 loss to Curren in the quarterfinals was the most stunning upset of the tournament. Even his tormentors in the British tabloid press seemed to feel for McEnroe, offering champagne as a peace offering the day after the match -- after ripping him in print one final time that morning.
McEnroe refused the champagne and left England a confused young man, no doubt wondering, at 26, if he still has the desire to work on his game to keep up with new challengers who hit the ball with the fierce power of Becker.
No one has threatened the men's top four for four years. Other than those four, no one in the top 10 today (Becker was ranked No. 20 going into Wimbledon) even has won a Grand Slam title. To challenge the top four, Becker must prove that Wimbledon was not merely a two-week wonder, a coming together of circumstances, luck and brilliance at the right time.
"He will only get better," said his coach, Ion Tiriac. "The desire is there to be the best. He takes all the work we give him and does it. Once he matures, there will be more championships."
If Becker improves very much, he someday might challenge the records of Navratilova and Evert. While seeded players were dropping in every corner of the All England club on the men's side, Evert and Navratilova cruised to the final without losing a set.
"I think it's obvious that Chris and I are way ahead of everyone else," Navratilova said. "There are other girls coming on, getting better, but right now there is a big gap."
Clearly. Yet, the gap between Navratilova and Evert is perhaps s narrow as it ever has been in their long rivalry. Navratilova's three-set victory Saturday gave her a measure of revenge for Evert's three-set victory at the French Open.
It also sets the stage for what should be a dramatic U.S. Open final. Evert has won on her surface, clay; Navratilova has won on hers, grass.
On the cement of Flushing Meadow, they almost undoubtedly will meet again on what should be equal footing.
"I'm really looking forward to that," Evert said, her eyes undimmed at age 30.
Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect about the week of rain that put the play so far behind schedule is that the doubles play had to be squeezed together.
Because of that, many people did not get to see some extraordinary tennis. Navratilova perhaps was drained Saturday by her emotional victory over Evert. Later that day, she and Shriver lost for the first time in nine Grand Slam events, 110 matches and more than two years.
The victors were Kathy Jordan and Elizabeth Sayers-Smylie, who had been a team for less than a year. In both the semifinals and the finals, they came from 3-0 down in the last set to win. For Jordan, it was her second Wimbledon doubles title, the first one coming in 1980.
Navratilova did get one back on Sunday. She and partner Paul McNamee, forced to play three matches the last day, won a 23-21 last set in the semifinals against Betsy Nagelsen and Scott Davis -- the longest set in mixed doubles history at Wimbledon -- then beat John Fitzgerald and Smylie in a three-set final less than an hour later.
"I figured we'd better get it over before Martina fainted," McNamee said, smiling.
It was Navratilova's first mixed doubles title at Wimbledon and her 13th overall championship, leaving her seven short of Billie Jean King's all-time Wimbledon record. At 28, Navratilova has a good chance to break that record, something she says she would like very much to do.
But that will come later. The more immediate issue is that of Becker. He will lead the West German Davis Cup team against the United States Aug. 2-4 in Hamburg and might well win. McEnroe and Connors have said they will not play; Curren and Johan Kriek, South African expatriates and now U.S. citizens, do not like clay courts; and Aaron Krickstein and Eliot Teltscher, the likely singles players, have had spotty summers.
After that, Becker will prepare for the U.S. Open, which will begin Aug. 26. There, some questions will be answered: Can McEnroe come back? What of Lendl and his baffling Grand Slam record? Is Connors through? Who's No. 1, Navratilova or Evert? And, finally, was Wimbledon one shining moment or merely a beginning for Becker?
And the fact that there is a new name about whom such a question can be asked perhaps is the greatest gift of the 99th Wimbledon championships.