This Year, It Appears, the Wimbledon Story Is Navratilova-Lloyd

Times Staff Writer

Tired of stories about the dreary weather here? The skies are stormy, but that’s hardly news in a country where they don’t much worry about the weather unless there’s an invasion being planned.

And tired of stories about stormy John McEnroe? Who isn’t?

Well, here’s something different. There’s a story, it seems, in women’s tennis. It has been a while.

Martina Navratilova has company at the top. Just when it seemed she had left all of women’s tennis behind her, someone caught up. Back in the race is Chris Evert Lloyd, whom you might remember.


Navratilova and Lloyd are jointly seeded No. 1 as the Wimbledon tennis fortnight begins Monday. Now there’s some controversy about this. Sure, Lloyd beat Navratilova last month to win the French Open. But that was on clay, and you wouldn’t say Lloyd has been beating Navratilova regularly.

Still, she has made up ground. It was just a year ago that people were suggesting that Chrissie hang up here tennies and stop embarrassing herself. That was before she went all the way to the final before losing to Navratilova.

And Martina is in something of a slump. After winning six consecutive Grand Slam events, she lost in the Australian to Helena Sukova and then in the French to Lloyd.

The women could use something like a rivalry in a game where Navratilova beats everyone and Lloyd beats everyone else.


Who can beat them? Hana Mandlikova is seeded third, Manuela Maleeva fourth, Pam Shriver fifth, Claudia Kohde-Kilsch sixth, Sukova seventh and Zina Garrison eighth. Mandlikova is the best bet, but not a great bet.

Navratilova is attempting to win her fourth consecutive Wimbledon. Lloyd is looking for her fourth title here. There’s history at work. It could be a great matchup. Each of them even has a new book out, this being the time of year when you have to put it all together.

And the men?

The biggest story just might be McEnroe’s temper, or there might not be a story at all. Mac the Nice? For sure, he’s Mac the Great. He’s trying to become the first American man to win three consecutive titles here.


No one knows what Mac is up to these days. He is hiding out. No one has seen a sign of him in weeks, including the British popular press.

“I want to spend the least possible time in England,” McEnroe is quoted as saying in one paper here.

You know why. For the past couple of years, McEnroe has had more problems with the tabloids than with any of his tennis-playing colleagues.

This year, he’s trying to win them all. One of the tabloids, the Sun, a classy kind of paper in which a recent story on Cher was entitled, “Why My Bottom is Blooming Lovely,” had another story saying McEnroe is perhaps the greatest of all Wimbledon champions.


He’ll try to prove the Sun right this time. McEnroe, seeded No. 1, is going for that American record, and he isn’t a bad bet.

His principal competition should come from second-seeded Ivan Lendl, third-seeded Jimmy Connors and fourth-seeded Mats Wilander.

Lendl and Wilander have never won the title here, and McEnroe destroyed Connors in the final a year ago. Wilander is the hot young player (he’s just 20 and halfway to a Grand Slam), but can he beat McEnroe on grass? He’s one of three Swedes--along with Anders Jarryd (No. 5) and Joakim Nystrom (No. 7)--among the first eight seeded players. There is also No. 6 Pat Cash, the Australian, and No. 8 Kevin Curren, the American and former South African. People like Cash’s ability, especially on grass.

The rivalries are set--Lloyd-Navratilova and McEnroe-Lendl or McEnroe-Connors. But it will take a while to get to them this fortnight. Meanwhile, there’s the weather. . . .