The women’s tennis scene changed a lot in 1968. Up to 1968 the tennis world had been in an era that we know today as the amateur era. In this era there were only certain players that were allowed to play in the Grand Slam tournaments. These Grand Slam tournaments consist of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. These tournaments are well known as the most competitive and most sought after tournaments in the world of tennis.
As mentioned before, only amateur players were allowed to play in these tournaments for a time. This was the case with the Australian Open in 1968. However, following the Australian Open there were some changes made that allowed professional players to play in these tournaments. This would be the beginning of what we know as the “open era.” Today you will often here about players and how they have the most wins in specific events since the beginning of the “open era.” This refers to the time from the 1968 French Open until today.
In 1967 the tennis world really saw the emergence of one of the greatest players to ever play the game. Billie Jean King won her first Grand Slam tournament in 1966 and then she really turned it on in 1967 and managed to take home two more Grand Slams. The dominance of Billie Jean King continued in 1968.
The dominance of Billie Jean King continued in what would be the last Grand Slam of the amateur era. Billie Jean King managed to take home the victory in the Australian Open. This meant that she would be the winner of the last three Grand Slam events in the amateur era. She was really started to take over the tennis world at this point.
Nancy Richey wasn’t about to let her run away with all of the Grand Slam tournaments in 1968, however. Richey was the winner of the Australian Open in 1967 and she still had enough in the tank to take her second and final Grand Slam tournament in 1968. Richey won the first event of the open era by taking the Grand Slam title at the French Open.
Billie Jean King wouldn’t let a loss at the French Open Slow her down. Billie Jean King still had a chance to take home another Grand Slam at Wimbledon. It was beginning to become clear that Wimbledon was where King played best. She had already won at Wimbledon in the two previous years and she continued to dominate in 1968. Over the course of her career King would win 6 of her 12 Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon.
That victory would be the last Grand Slam title of the year for King and Virginia Wade was ready to step in to take the first Grand Slam victory of her career. She took home the US Open. This Grand Slam title would be the first of three titles that she would win over the course of her career.