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1973 Wimbledon Boycott In May 1973 Nikola (Niki) Pilic, Yugoslavia's number-one-ranked male tennis player, was suspended by his national tennis association. The governing body claimed he had refused to play in a Davis Cup tie for Yugoslavia against New Zealand earlier that month. Today tennis players routinely turn down invitations to play for their countries in Davis Cup competition, but back in 1973 it was considered a big no-no--especially in an eastern European country. Pilic denied he had done so. Be that as it may, Pilic was initially suspended for nine months. Yugoslavia's suspension was supported by the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF), but it was later reduced to just one month. Nevertheless, that month happened to be when the prestigious Wimbledon championships took place. Thus, Pilic would not be permitted to play at Wimbledon. The recently formed men's players union, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), stated that if Pilic was not allowed to compete, none of its membership should compete. As a result, 81 of the top players, including reigning champion Stan Smith, boycotted Wimbledon in 1973 to protest Pilic's suspension. The initial seeding for the men's draw had already taken place. Thirteen of the 16 men's seeds withdrew. This resulted in an enormous number of qualifiers and lucky losers getting into the main draw. Three leading ATP players, Ilie Nastase, Roger Taylor and Ray Keldie, defied the boycott and were fined by the ATP's disciplinary committee. Also among those who chose to play were two rising stars: Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors, who each advanced to the quarterfinals. Despite the boycott, the attendance of 300,172 was the second highest in Wimbledon's history at that time. The eventual men's champion was Jan Kodes of Czechoslovakia. He defeated Alex Metreveli of the Soviet Union 6-1, 9-8, 6-3 in the final. (Tiebreakers were played at 8-8 in those days.) Kodes is shown here planting a kiss on the championship trophy.
Tags: tennis  Wimbledon  boycott 
Added: 15th September 2012
Views: 3447
Posted By: Lava1964
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2012-09-16 
I always felt sorry for Stan Smith not getting a chance to defend the title he won in 1972. Who even remembers Niki Pilic and the controversy he created?
Posted by: eric1957 on 2012-09-16 
Been watching the Davis Cup on the Tennis Channel. Niki Pilic and Alex Metrevili would be a good trivia question. Also isn't that about the time of the amateurs vs. pros controversy in tennis?
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2012-09-17 
The amateur era in big-time tennis ended in 1967. Pros were allowed to compete in the four majors beginning in 1968. By 1973, the computerized ratings system had been developed and the male players had organized the ATP.

The Davis Cup is one of the great sports competitions on the planet. Too bad so few people in North America care about it. I attended a Canada-Mexico tie in 2002. There was no live TV coverage of the Canada-South Africa tie this weekend even though the event was held in Montreal. I had to rely on the Davis Cup website to keep me up to date.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2012-09-17 
I remember reading a Sports Illustrated article, published around 1980, about the dedication and passion of Wimbledon fans. The writer said something to the effect that fans would line up by the thousands even if two simians were playing tennis at Wimbledon--and that pretty much was the quality of the men's final in 1973 when Kodes beat Metreveli.

Thatccomment was blatantly unfair to the 1973 men's finalists. Kodes won the French Open twice, and Metreveli was a solid top-ten player.

Would they have gotten to the final in 1973 if all the top players had been present? Not likely...but we'll never know.
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