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Computer glitch denied Goolagong No. 1 WTA ranking in '76

SUNRISE BEACH, Australia -- Evonne Goolagong finally made it
to No. 1, although the honor was 31 years late in coming.

The Australian tennis star was told by the WTA Tour that she
should have been top-ranked for a two-week period in 1976. That was
a stretch in which she was in the middle of winning six
tournaments, including the Australian Open and the season-ending
Virginia Slims Championship.


But when some tournament records were transferred to a computer
in 1976, all of Goolagong's points were not entered and she never
received the top ranking, the WTA said.


The WTA has amended its records, making Goolagong the 16th No. 1
player since the introduction of tour computer rankings in 1975.


Two weeks ago, the 56-year-old Goolagong received a trophy from
the WTA that is now displayed in her oceanside home.


"I'm very proud of the achievement," Goolagong told The
Associated Press. "I was on a roll for that stretch in 1976. It
was a great surprise to hear after all these years."


A recent search of the rankings archive in St. Petersburg, Fla.,
found several paper records were missing between April and July
1976.


Rankings were calculated twice weekly until 1990 -- they are done
weekly now -- and it was discovered Goolagong overtook Chris Evert
by 0.8 points after the Aussie's victory in the Virginia Slims in
Los Angeles in late April 1976, before Evert regained the crown May
10.


"Unfortunately our record-keeping wasn't perfect in those early
days of women's tennis and our ranking system was viewed as a means
of just accepting tournament entries," WTA Tour chief executive
and chairman Larry Scott said.


"It wasn't until the early 1980s that the media and players
started to pay attention to the changes in the rankings during the
year as opposed to only the end-of-season rankings."


Goolagong reached the finals of 16 of 24 Grand Slam singles
tournaments from 1971 to 1976, winning five of them. She won
Wimbledon titles nine years apart -- in 1971 and 1980 -- to equal
Bill Tilden's mark for having the longest gaps between
championships at the All-England Club. She has seven Grand Slam
singles titles overall.


Goolagong retired in 1985 and lived in the United States -- at
Hilton Head, S.C., and Naples, Fla. -- until moving back to
Australia in 1992.


Now, Goolagong is frequently seen power walking in the streets
around her Sunrise Beach home north of Brisbane. She and husband
Roger Cawley organize tennis camps for Aboriginal youths. During
next month's Australian Open, 15 young athletes from across
Australia will be flown in for a camp outside Melbourne.