Sunrise Beach, December 28:
Evonne Goolagong figures it was a case of better late than never.
The Australian tennis star was told by the WTA Tour that she should have been top-ranked for a two-week period in 1976. That was a stretch in which she was in the middle of winning six tournaments, including the Australian Open and the season-ending Virginia Slims Championship.
But when some tournament records were transferred to a computer in 1976, all of Goolagongâ€™s points were not entered and she never received the top ranking, the WTA said. The WTA has amended its records, making Goolagong one of 16 No 1 players since the introduction of tour computer rankings in 1975.
Two weeks ago, the 56-year-old Goolagong received a crystal trophy from the WTA.
A recent search of the rankings archive in St Petersburg found several paper records were missing between April and July 1976. Rankings were calculated twice weekly until 1990 â€” they are done weekly now â€” and it was discovered Goolagong overtook Chris Evert by 0.8 points after the Aussieâ€™s victory in the Virginia Slims in Los Angeles in late April 1976. Evert, under the revised calculations, regained the top ranking May 10.
Goolagong reached the finals of 16 of 24 Grand Slam singles tournaments from 1971 to 1976, winning five of them. She won Wimbledon titles nine years apart â€” in 1971 and 1980 â€” to equal Bill Tildenâ€™s mark for having the longest gaps between championships at the All-England Club. She has seven Grand Slam singles titles overall.
Goolagong retired in 1985 and lived in the United States â€” at Hilton Head, South Carolina and Naples, Florida â€” until moving back to Australia in 1992.