Vic’s Victory: Seixas Turns 100


Bill Simons

New York

WHEN TO RETIRE? From 27-year-old Bjorn Borg to Ash Barty, who was 26, there have been many stars who have retired incredibly early in their careers. Others, like Jimmy Connors and Pancho Gonzalez in singles, and Martina Navratilova in doubles, have lingered long on the circuit. 

Now, Venus Williams has triggered a debate. She’s ranked No. 410, has a 3-7 record this year and hasn’t won a title since 2016. Some say that knowing when to step aside is an art form, and it’s her time. 

James Blake contended, “When you can’t improve anymore, it’s time to retire.” ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith was blunt: “It’s time for Venus to retire. Enough is enough. She’s the oldest player on the tour. She’s 43 – with a bad knee.”

After Venus went  21-0 in first rounds at the US Open, she’s lost in the opening round three straight times. And she’s been bounced out of her last twelve Slams in the first or second rounds.”

But Jon Wertheim countered, “No journalist (or fan) should tell any athlete to retire.” 

Venus’s backers noted her core passion and love for the game. It’s her thing. So why not go on? 

BTW: Rafa Nadal, who hasn’t played since the Aussie Open, is more then ever on retirement watch. Of course, his fan base would hope that, like Venus, the 37-year old would battle on until he’s 43.


Vic Seixas, the oldest living member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, turned 100 Wednesday. Here’s our reflection.


The boy (that was me) was sweaty, tired and elated. He’d just finished hours of sprints playing a new game he was falling in love with (that was tennis).

Then his dad came home, opened the sports page, and commented, “Look, that guy from Philly, Vic Seixas, just won that tournament over there in England – they call it Wimbledon.”

It was a big deal – and Vic Seixas was a big deal in my life and in tennis history. He was the first man to inspire me, and, 70 years later, he’s still inspiring. At 100, Seixas is the oldest living Grand Slam champ and the oldest player in the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

He not only won Wimbledon in 1953 and the US Open in 1954, he was No. 1 in the world and led the US to a key 1954 Davis Cup win in Sydney, in front of 25,000 fans at a time when Australia had an iron grip on the Davis Cup. Overall, Vic won 15 majors: two singles, five doubles and eight mixed doubles titles, and was our Davis Cup captain.

But what intrigues us is a straight-from-a-novel life journey. The son of a Depression era plumber with a tough name to pronounce (“say’-shus”) emerged from a Philadelphia park and began playing the circuit in 1940. But then war roared. He became a test pilot for the Army Air Corps and went off to Papua, New Guinea to make sure small mustangs and big bombers were ready for battle.

After the war, he had little interest in his father’s plumbing business. Instead, he played the amateur tennis circuit. Sure, his groundies weren’t that great. But he had speed and athleticism, and was a demon at the net. As he charged forward, his slashing volleys dictated.

When he won Wimbledon he got a trophy and a gift certificate. He bought a sweater. In today’s world he might have pocketed $35 million.

But, oh well, life was good – the world was his oyster. He had a pretty wife, and then another. He traveled to Johannesburg, Buenos Aires, Melbourne and Hollywood and rubbed elbows with the stars. Promoters paid his way and he told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “We lived like kings and queens.”

Vic went on to become a stock broker for Goldman Sachs for 17 years. He came to Mill Valley and a haven by the Bay, the Club at Harbor Point, where he taught tennis and tended bar.

These days, the great mover isn’t moving that well. He’s in a wheelchair. His eyesight is diminished. He uses an amplifier to read and enjoys daytime TV.

The man who inspired this writer now inspires the entire sport. His longevity is a marvel.

July 4th was the 70th anniversary of his Wimbledon win. Today, he turned 100. On September 29, at Alamo’s Round Hill Club, he’ll enter the Northern California Tennis Hall of Fame.

And on any day when anyone looks into the annals of American tennis, they’ll see a man of class, grace, elegance and ferocity; a pillar that this sport was built on.

GO FIGURE: Until now, it’s been said that the former Yankee manager Joe Torre got the loudest ovation of any celebrity at Ashe Stadium. But the ear-splitting roar for Michelle Obama on opening night topped that…Thanks to his first-round win, at the end of the Open Novak Djokovic will again be ranked No. 1.


“If I were you I would have left after the third double fault, so thank you for staying and being patient.” – Aryna Sabalenka, who has long struggled with her serve

“Even under normal circumstances, the tension of Grand Slams is enough to make you sick.” – Pam Shriver, reflecting on the struggling Ons Jabeur

“I love the game of tennis, and I love this tournament!” – Michelle Obama

KING ON KING: On opening night, Billie Jean King quoted Coretta Scott King, who once said, “Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it, in every generation.”

NOTHING LIKE HER: Singer Sara Bareilles told the opening night crowd, “There is no one like Billie Jean King on this Earth.” Then, after Ons Jabeur had struggled to win her first-round match, the on-court emcee told her, “The world knows that you are absolutely the happiest person on this planet.” 

SAY IT ISN’T SO: The Next Gen ATP Finals will be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia…John McEnroe has COVID…Danielle Collins had two second-set match points against the crafty Belgian Elise Mertens, but lost in three sets…Former US Open champ Dominic Thiem had to pull out of his match against Ben Shelton due to an abdominal problem.

GOOD SPORTS: Before the Open, Djokovic thrilled us when he again did a round of player imitations…In another pre-US Open event, Jimmy Butler did a stint as a ball-boy…After his first-round win, Carlos Alcaraz broke into song and did a dance. 

COOL THE HYPE: Venus Williams is now embraced as an icon. But early in her career some bristled at all the over-the-top hype that came her way. Martina Navratilova quipped, “We might as well all go home because Venus Williams is going to beat everybody.” Chris Evert suggested, “Yeah, she’s the greatest that ever lived.”

COCO TO PLAY LAST MATCH: Relax. It’s not that one. Coco Gauff, 19, should be playing for decades. But 31-year-old CoCo Vandeweghe is hanging it up. The former Top Ten player, who emerged out of a storied Californian sporting family, reached the 2017 Aussie Open semis in singles and won the US doubles with Ash Barty, will be retiring after playing the US Open doubles with Sofia Kenin. “The WTA,” said one observer, “will always have the Original 9 and the original CoCo.” 

NICE WINS: American Michael Mmoh scored his fourth top-20 win of the year when he beat No. 11, Russian Karen Kacahanov…Taylor Townsend, whose resurgent career seems to be inspired by the birth of her son, downed No. 19 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia…Former No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov, who’s had an extraordinary up-and-down career, downed Slovak Alex Molcan 6-7(9), 6-7(5), 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(9) in a scintillating marathon.

ON OUR RADAR SCREEN: Aliso Viejo, California, native Alex Michelson, continues to amaze. The still gangly 6’ 4” 19-year-old, who reached the Newport final, downed Spain’s Albert Ramos Vinolas in straight sets. He had plans to go to the University of Georgia, but a few weeks ago turned pro.

SWISS SHOCKER: Switzerland’s FORF (Friend of Roger Federer) Dominic Stricker came back from the brink to down No. 7 Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets. The Greek has never gotten beyond the third round in NYC.

BIG LOVE FOR BIG JOHN: John Isner’s pals Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson and the Bryan Brothers all came out to see him play Tuesday. After the soon-to-retire Isner won, USTA chief Brian Hainline said to him, “You are a champion of light who inspires us all, and we are grateful.” A teary-eyed Isner noted that, without tennis, he wouldn’t have met his wife and had his family. He then spoke of being an American who has played 17 US Opens: “I don’t take it for granted. I’m so lucky and so blessed – and it’s not goodbye yet… I still want to keep this going.” He next plays Michael Mmoh. 



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here