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When We Spoke To Lisa

1      What is your funniest incident you remember from your career?


Not so much funny really, more entertaining and insightful. When I first started on the tour, Chrissie took me under her wing and helped me a lot. I started practicing with her, and really became her main practice partner over next couple of years. Then in 1983, I think it was, I played her in the semi-final of the Pan-Pacific tournament in Japan and beat her. She never practiced with me again!


2      Of all your opponents:

 

Who had the best serve?


I would have to go for Martina. It wasn’t just that it was great serve in itself, it was how brilliantly she used it. Being a leftie, she would swing it away to my backhand, and then she would be right there at the net to put it away however you returned it. It was a nightmare to face; really quite intimidating.


Who had the best backhand?


Definitively Chrissie. Possibly because she had such a good practice partner maybe, but more likely because it was just about perfect. It looked fabulous, it was so accurate, and it held up so well under pressure. No matter how important the point, it always seemed right on the money.


Who had the best forehand?


Steffi, without a doubt. A real weapon. It was heavy, she took it early, it was unfailingly accurate. And as she seemed to run round her backhand at every opportunity, she could use it even when you tried not to put it on a plate for her!

 

Who had the strongest mentality?


I would go for Monica Seles, I think. The awful knifing in Hamburg affected her terribly, of course, but before then she was so strong. People forget now, but she beat Chrissie at fifteen, and was world No. 1 at sixteen. Over a two-year period made it to 33 out of 34 finals - and you don’t do that that unless you are tough, no matter how good you are. I really do think that, if it hadn’t been for that knifing in 1993, it would be her name on the top of the Grand Slam winners list today.


Who did you most dread playing?


Martina. We just matched up really badly unfortunately. I didn’t grow up playing anyone who played remotely like her, so it was all new to me - and I never got to work out what I could do to get at her. I think I played her on every surface and didn’t get close to a set. Though in fairness, I guess lots of people could say that about her!


3.    Is there a great story you could share about a prominent player of the Golden Age?


I may have dreaded playing Martina, but I liked her a lot. She’s a really generous and clever person, as well as being a wonderful player. My lasting memory of her was in the dressing room before games - she would spend hours and hours playing with a Rubic’s cube. And she was damn good at that too!


4.    Apart from yourself, of course, who did you think was the most stylish dresser of the Golden Age?


It has to be Chrissie. She always looked so cool and feminine. When she wore her Ellesse range it was so refined and elegant. They didn’t call her the Ice Princess just because she was so composed! I love her, but boy it was annoying she always looked so great.


5.    Do you think tennis clothes today have the same panache and style as those in the past?


Absolutely not. Lots it of just screams ‘look at me’ – it’s all colour with seemingly no reference to a colour palette. Call me conservative, but I think tennis is the beautiful game, and its stars should wear clothes that befit this. I would see some of the clothes back in the golden age and immediately want to reach for my cheque book to buy them; now I just want to reach for my sunglasses.

 

6.    Why did you want to agree to become an ambassador for GAOT?

When you have something culturally great, we really shouldn’t lose it just because fashion and trends move on. I think Golden Age of Tennis is doing a great job preserving the great clothing and style of a wonderful time in tennis, and I’m just delighted to be part of that and help in any way I can. 

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