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.
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.
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