The Quirky Hall of Fame

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Van Deer Meer's ocelot, Dropshot, who liked to play with Billie Jean King, along with Gussy Moran and Ted Tinling, are in the Quirky Hall of Fame.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame vigilantly protects the heritage of the game, and its Newport museum is filled with glorious artifacts. But here’s a zany, late-summer collection of alternative items we could imagine might pop up in the Tennis Hall of Quirky.

  • The apron worn by pizza waitress Melissa Johnson, who joyfully streaked across Wimbledon’s Center Court just before the 1996 final.
  • The crazy, whiplash spaghetti racket that was banned in 1978.
  • The litter Billie Jean King was carried in on as she came into the Astrodome to play the Battle of the Sexes.
  • The yellow and red Sugar Daddy coat Bobby Riggs wore during much of the match.
  • The lace panties Gussy Moran wore at Wimbledon.
  • Any of Bethanie Mattek-Sands’ truly wacky outfits before she went mainstream.
  • A pair of Bud Collins pants.
  • A pair of Nadal’s Capri pirate pants.
  • Andre Agassi’s toupee.
  • Dennis Van der Meer’s pet cheetah.
  • Ted Tinling’s earring.
  • The made-by-her-mom pinafore dress worn by teen Tracy Austin.
  • The flask the mother of all tennis divas, Suzanne Lenglen, drank cognac from during changeovers, way back when.
  • Some of the beads that young Serena and Venus wore in their hair.
  • The black biker suit Serena wore at the US Open.
  • The emblazoned cream blazer Federer sported at Wimbledon.
  • Ivan Lendl’s sensible French legionnaire hat, which was perhaps the dorkiest tennis headgear that has ever been worn.
  • The golf balls Richard Nixon gave to Arthur Ashe.
  • Some of the ticker tape in Althea Gibson’s parade after she won at Forest Hills.
  • The station wagon Jack Kramer’s barnstorming troupe of pros drove in to take tennis to Topeka and Tulsa in the 50s.
  • Pat Cash’s checkerboard headband.
  • The spiked shoes Rod Laver changed into to win the Grand Slam in 1969.
  • The green couch featured courtside for years at the Family Circle tourney.
  • Agassi’s denim tennis shorts.
  • The rackets Bob Dylan and George Harrison played with when they hit on the Isle of Wight in 1969.
  • The aluminum pole young Martina Navratilova hugged in 1974, when she won the first tourney of her career and didn’t have anyone else to embrace.
  • One of the red flags that were originally used to signal a tiebreak.
  • The towel Fernando Verdasco imperiously demanded from a ball boy.
  • Rafa’s kabillion-dollar watch he wears during every match.
  • Dominik Hrabaty’s pink shirt with all its holes.

By the way, after losing to his fellow Zambian Musumba Bwayla, Lighton Mdewayl contended, “Bwayla is a stupid man and a hopeless player. He has a huge nose and is cross-eyed. Girls hate him. He beat me because my jockstrap was too tight and because when he serves he farts, and that made me lose my concentration, for which I am famous throughout Zambia.” Mdewayl’s jockstrap has got to go in the Quirky Hall of Fame.

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