Class of 2003
World No. 2 (1969)
Grand Slam Results
6-time major champion, 6-time finalist
Member of the U.S. Fed Cup Team 1964, 1968, 1969
Member of the U.S. Championship Fed Cup Team 1969
Overall Record: 15-2
Singles Record: 10-1
Doubles Record: 5-1
Member of the U.S. Wightman Cup Team 1962-1970
Member of the winning Wightman Cup Team 1962-1967, 1969-1970
When opponents faced Nancy Richey, they needed to be physically fit, mentally strong, be prepared to hit a lot of tennis balls, and play a long, tiresome match. A 5-foot-3 dynamo who could pound shots from the baseline as long as it took to grind out a victory, Richey played in 12 major singles and doubles finals, winning six, two in singles and four in doubles. Richey compensated for not being the fastest player on the court by putting constant pressure on her foe. Richey wasn’t about to beat herself – she had a perfectly timed and patient forehand and a whipping one-handed backhand that could not be exploited. She possessed a tactical all-court game that could keep her comfortably on the baseline where she could dictate long rallies, or when the opportunity arose, advance to the net and employ her exact volleying game.
Those who faced Richey on clay must have felt disheartened before the match ever started. She won a record six consecutive U.S. Women’s Clay Court Championships (1963-68) and the 1968 French Open over Brit Ann Haydon Jones, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.
Richey had one distinct advantage in developing her flat and powerfully hit forehand: She was taught the game from her teaching pro father, George, in San Angelo, Texas. Her brother Cliff won 28 titles in a 15-year playing career, so there wasn’t any shortage of available partners around to hone her game. Richey was a singles finalist in three major events in 1966 – the Australian, French, and U.S. Championships – and lost in straight sets in each one (in the 1966 Australian, Margaret Court won in a walkover from a knee injury sustained in the semis), before capturing the 1967 Australian title over Lesley Turner Bowrey easily, 6-1, 6-4. Richey only played in Australia twice (1966, 1967). Her last major championship match came at the 1969 US Open where she and Court actually traded strokes, but during those days Court was nearly invincible and won without a fuss, 6-2, 6-2.
Richey won the first four major doubles finals she played in, three coming in the 1966 campaign, where a French title would have earned her a Grand Slam. She and fellow American Carole Graebner won the 1965 U.S. Championships over Billie Jean King and Karen Hantze Susman, 6-4, 6-4 and remained partners in winning the 1966 Australian Championships over Aussies Court and Turner Bowrey, 6-4, 7-5. For the Wimbledon and second U.S. championships, Richey teamed with Brazilian Maria Bueno. A Wimbledon championship was earned with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Smith and Judy Tegart. The U.S. Nationals title was over King and Rosie Casals, 6-3, 6-4. The Richey-Bueno duo remained intact but lost in the 1967 Wimbledon final to King and Casals. In her final major championship at the 1969 French Open, Richey and Smith lost to Françoise Dürr and Haydon Jones.
Richey was ranked in the World Top 10 eleven times between 1963 and 1975, reaching No. 2 in 1969 and was ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in 1964, 1965, 1968, and 1969. She played Wightman Cup for eight years (1962-70) and her teams won all but one time. She also played for the United States Fed Cup teams in 1964, 1968, and 1969, had an impeccable 15-2 record, and won with her team in 1969.
Australian Championships: W 1967
French Open: W 1968
Wimbledon: SF 1968
U.S. Nationals/US Open: F 1966, 1969
Australian Championships: W 1966
French Open: F 1969
Wimbledon: W 1966
U.S. Nationals: W 1965, 1966
Australian Championships: QF 1967
French Championships/Open: QF 1964, 1965, 1968, 1969
Wimbledon: QF 1965
US Open: QF 1970