Friday, January 30, 2009

Barbara Jordan, forgotten champion

A few years ago, Australian Open officials held a ceremony to honor past tournament champions, and forgot to invite Barbara Jordan. When she learned about the omission, she found it amusing, which means she has a much different sense of humor than many of us have.

Jordan may have the strangest record of all time. She won only two singles titles her entire career, but one of them was the 1979 Australian Open. Jordan defeated number 4 seed Sharon Walsh, 6-3, 6-3, to take the title.

Jordan's victory came during a time when the Open was held during the Christmas holidays, and many American players opted to stay home. It should be noted, however, that she upset the great Hana Mandlikova in the quarterfinals, and she also upset 3rd-seeded Renata Tomanova in the semifinals. Jordan recalls: "I remember I was at a WTA board meeting the next year and we were talking about the Australian Open. Chris Evert was saying how she hadn’t won there. I just looked up and said, 'Yeah, that’s no big deal. I’ve done that.' Chrissie really laughed hard at that one.”

Jordan, by the way, is the sister of Kathy Jordan, a much better-known player. And though the Australian Open was the only major singles title she won, Barbara Jordan also won the 1983 French Open mixed doubles title, with Eliot Teltscher.

Jordan is now an attorney in San Jose.

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