Bill Friedman Jr.
I was a tennis brat. My father brought the US Davis Cup team to Des Moines for a charity event exhibition, and then the USLTA indoor circuit to Vets Auditorium for tournaments three years running when I was a young teenager.
US Davis Cup Team
I took it for granted at the time, but looking back, it was quite something to watch my father hit balls with the likes of Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, and Ilie Nastase while holding his own admirably well on the court. I bumped into Mr. Nastase in the Wimbledon players lounge twenty years later. Of course I had to reintroduce myself (I was a kid the last time I’d seen him) as Bill Friedman Jr.’s daughter, but he remembered dad very well, and graciously invited me to join him for a drink.
Since I rebelled, dad had Tatjana on the courts young
Much to dad’s disappointment I never became a decent tennis player, but I did love watching those tournaments and flirting with the cute young players! You have to admit they are HOT. If I were thirty years younger I’d have a massive crush on Rafa.
Dad with Bobby Riggs
There was one player in particular, a young Australian called Ian Fletcher that I developed a wild crush on. He had long blond hair and played guitar at the party my parents threw to welcome the players every year. I was only fourteen, and he knew I had a crush, so he humored me with an occasional wink during his doubles match.
Mom and dad with “battle of the sexes” champ, Billie Jean King
When I was fifteen, I went to my first Wimbledon with my parents and sister, Patty. We were sitting in the players box at center court when someone came up from behind, masking my eyes, saying “guess who?” I only knew one Australian, so it wasn’t hard. I was so flattered he remembered me! My heart was doing flip flops and flutters, as dad reluctantly agreed to let me roam the outer courts with Ian, but I got the “don’t mess with me look” as he said be back by 6:00PM sharp.
Driving my sister nuts with “Ian, Ian, Ian…”
We made the rounds, stopping to watch a women’s doubles match. Ian pointed to a blond woman, and told me she was going to be a huge star. It was Martina Navratilova. Before I knew it, it was 5:55PM, and I had to go back to meet my family. Ian invited me to come to Anabel’s nightclub with him that evening, and kissed my cheek as I left. Of course my parents forbade me to go, so I spent the rest of our trip throughout England and France torturing them as I pined for Ian, Ian, Ian (pronounced with a breathy sigh).
Dinner with Emily Cash in London last summer
I never did see Ian again, but years later I became great friends with Australian Wimbledon champ Pat Cash and his wife, Emily. Pat was amused when I relayed the story about Ian, and told me he is now the head pro at a country club coaching tomorrow’s tennis stars. I wonder if any of them will be playing the US Open this week at Arthur Ashe Stadium?