3 minute read

Rosemary Casals

Slims Tour Takes Shape

Gladys Heldman of World Tennis magazine, also a Hall of Famer, put up $5,000 of her own money and provided operational help to King and Casals. "B.J. and Rosie were the ringleaders on court, close doubles partners, (and) frequent final-round saleswomen for the emerging tour," Collins wrote. "They were perfect role players, feisty but good-humored kids off the public courts who believed women had a destiny in professional sport."

In 1971, the first full year of the Slims tour, Casals competed in a record 32 tournaments in singles, 31 in doubles-in all, 205 matches. King played in 210. "More than 200 matches in a season? Steffi Graf has played as many as 117 only once," Collins wrote. By then, the USTA and other associations had lifted their sanctions. In 1973 Casals, who competed in a record 685 singles and doubles tournaments throughout her career, won the first large-pay tournament, collecting $30,000 with the Family Circle Cup, while defeating King and clay-court specialist Nancy Richey.

Chronology

1948 Born November 16 in San Francisco, California
1970 Helped organize threat to boycott traditional tournaments if pay for women's tennis players not increased
1971 Virginia Slims women's tour commences
1972 Wimbledon official orders Casals to change out of purple-lined white dress, citing tournament policy
1973 Network TV commentator on "Battle of the Sexes" exhibition tennis match between King and Bobby Riggs
1974 Appeared in episode of ABC-TV series "Love American Style."

Awards and Accomplishments

1966 Wins U.S. hardcourt and indoor championships with doubles partner Billie Jean King
1967 Casals and King capture Wimbledon and U.S. Open women's doubles championships
1968 Repeats Wimbledon doubles title with King
1970 Wimbledon mixed doubles champion with Ilie Nastase
1970-71 Casals and King win consecutive Wimbledon doubles titles
1971 U.S. Open women's doubles champion with Judy Tegart Dalton
1972 Wimbledon mixed doubles champion with Nastase
1973 Captures fifth Wimbledon's doubles title with King
1973 Wins Family Circle Cup championship and first prize of $30,000, considered major payout at the time
1974 U.S. Open women's doubles champion with King
1982 U.S. Open women's doubles champion with Wendy Turnbull
1990 Wins U.S. Open Seniors' women's doubles title with King
1996 Inducted into International Tennis Hall of Fame

Casals won eight of her 10 Grand Slam doubles titles playing with King. She also won the U.S. Open with Judy Tegart Dalton in 1971 and with Ilie Nastase, in mixed doubles, in 1975. She and Nastase took Wimbledon mixed doubles in 1970 and 1972. "For sheer shot-making sorcery, plus merrymaking on one side of the net, the amalgam of Casals and Ilie Nastase, winning the Wimbledon mixed in 1970 and 1972, may never be equalled," Collins wrote.

Casals was also a commentator on the ABC telecast of the "battle of the sexes" exhibition match in September, 1973, between King and Bobby Riggs at Houston's Astrodome. It drew 30,472 spectators, a tennis record. Some media critics railed over the choice of Casals, because of her longstanding affiliation and friendship with King. Riggs was known for trumpeting male athletic superiority. King won 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in a match seen as a publicity breakthrough for women's sports.

Where Is She Now?

In a last hurrah with King, Rosemary Casals and her partner won the U.S. Open Seniors women's doubles championship in 1990. Today, Casals, who lives in Sausalito, California, has added golf to her hobbies, organizes tennis tournaments and competes annually in the Wimbledon and U.S. Open senior invitationals. She also occasionally competes in exhibitions. She founded her Sportswoman Inc. in 1982 to promote a women's classic tour for older players. She also began a television production company, Midnight Productions.

Casals served on the board of the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee, which attempted to get San Francisco the bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. San Francisco was runner-up to New York as U.S. finalist.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsTennisRosemary Casals Biography - Rich Game, Poor Background, Fought For Women's Improvements, Slims Tour Takes Shape