Written by By Casey Pugh, CNN
In April 2016, Evert, Davenport, Martina Navratilova, Navratilova and McEnroe would have turned 90. Despite leading the sport for decades, they had never earned a Grand Slam title in mixed doubles — until 2016.
The mixed doubles team of Federer and Wozniacki beat Croatian Ivan Dodig and Latvian Kaia Kanepi 5-7, 6-4, 10-6 in the Australian Open semifinals. It was the first time that two male players had played in a Grand Slam final in the event’s history. The win guaranteed the pair a chance to win the title.
“To play a Grand Slam event in mixed doubles for the first time since 1968 was an incredible feeling and the fans were tremendous,” Wozniacki said in a 2017 post on Twitter. “And of course we got to play on Rod Laver Arena for the second time in two weeks. The city really gave it to us!”
‘It’s a ‘nice day in tennis for girls’
Bjorn Borg and Ann-Sofie Johansson, pictured here, playing in the women’s doubles final of the French Open in 1981. Credit: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive
Despite considerable competition in the sport, Evert and Navratilova are the only active female players to have won Grand Slam singles titles. Evert won her eight in total at the U.S. Open, Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the London Olympics. Navratilova won eight — at the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, while Martina Navratilova won six.
The US Open and Wimbledon were the first Grand Slam events to introduce mixed doubles in 1968. As the men’s tour turned professional in 1973, McEnroe and Navratilova appeared in their first mixed doubles tournament at Wimbledon that year, but it took another six years for Evert and McEnroe to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“In tennis terms, it’s a ‘nice day in tennis for girls,’ ” Ennis-Hill wrote in 2010 of the challenge of campaigning for gender equality.
“Women at each step in their playing careers come under the glare of every competitive pressure ever known. Every breath their mothers take is watched, not as a cramp but as a slight delay that delays the next shot.”
BBC journalist and author Jen Gwynne recently spoke at her 35th and final SlamCon, a British-based education and networking festival for female tennis fans. She recounted her previous conversations with John McEnroe.
“I said to him, ‘Do you think your son will ever go and play mixed doubles?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely not.’ And I said, ‘Is your wife?’ And he said, ‘No.’ And I said, ‘Do you think he’ll go and play mixed doubles with your wife in the next 10 years?’ And he said, ‘No.’”