Kerry Melville Reid was 23 years old when she played in the groundbreaking Virginia Slims Invitational in Houston in 1970. Her career haul of 22 singles titles is highlighted by her home Grand Slam, the Australian Open, in 1977; a further 40 finals included the Australian Open in 1970, and in 1972 both the US Open and the Virginia Slims Championships – the precursor to the WTA Finals. A singles Top 10 regular throughout the 1970s, peaking at No.5, she also won three doubles majors. She was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014.
How did you get into tennis?
KMR: I was aged 10 when I hit my first tennis ball in Melbourne with my father. He had played for Sydney University with Adrian Quist, and my mother was one of the top juniors in Sydney and played a lot with Thelma Coyne Long, another Australian great. Ma was also a schoolgirl sprint champion, so you can see this is where I inherited some athletic genes!
At what moment did you know you loved the sport and wanted to choose it as a career?
KMR: I loved playing tennis from the first time I hit the ball with Pop. We would play every weekend and I would get all his tennis clothes out on Friday night and clean his canvas sneakers. I was so excited to play – to say I was obsessed with tennis from then on would be an understatement. I would hit on a wall often before school and at lunch, and then from the age of 12, my Ma would pick me up from school and take me to play with my coach, Keith Rogers. Of course, I didn’t know then that I wanted tennis as a career, but I knew that I loved it.
What was the transition to the senior ranks like?
KMR: When I was 18, in the mid-Sixties, I was Australian junior champion, and Karen Krantzcke and I were selected in an Australian team to travel the world with five guys and a manager, Cliff Sproule. We travelled all through Europe, the UK and finally the US and basically all we had to do was play tournaments and practice hard. It was an amazing experience that taught us the ropes of travel and competition. The second year, Brian Tobin – who later became president of Tennis Australia – was our manager and he was wonderful. Those two years really set me up for what was to come.
How would you describe your style of play? What were your strengths?
KMR: I was a baseliner with a big inside-out, sidespin forehand. After I switched coaches to Neil Guiney I learned more topspin and to volley much more effectively. I’d say I was a pretty tough competitor!
How has your life been impacted by tennis?
KMR: In 1974, World TeamTennis started and I was drafted by the Boston Lobsters. The first team meeting was when Raz Reid entered my life, and three weeks later we were dating. We were married before the season started the next year and we are about to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. We have two beautiful daughters, Kati and Kimi, and three grandkids. Without tennis we most certainly would never have met!
What was your favorite tournament?
KMR: The Australian Open in Melbourne was my favorite tournament to play. I won it in 1977 at Kooyong, and the best part was that my family and friends were there, plus my coach Neil and his family. It really was special for all of them to see me win in my hometown.
Describe your most memorable win and what you learned from it.
KMR: Aside from my victory at Kooyong, winning the Wimbledon doubles title in 1978 with another Aussie, Wendy Turnbull, was my most memorable win. We played Virginia Ruzici and Mima Jausovec and I remember returning serve at match point down in the second set tiebreaker. We had a fast exchange at the net and Wendy put away a backhand volley. We went on to win and it was very exciting. Poor Raz, having to sit through that!
Any funny stories from your time playing on the WTA Tour?
KMR: I was playing a match against Mary Carillo on Court 2 at Wimbledon. When I went on, Raz was at a set all on the back courts and I got into a tough match with Mary, who was a crafty, lefty grass court player. We got to 5-5 in the third set and finally I saw Raz in the stands and he gave me a thumbs up, indicating that he had won. This gave me a boost and I proceeded to win eight straight points to win the match… only to get off court and find out that he had lost. Quick thinking on his part!
What have you been up to since retiring?
KMR: After we retired from tour life – Raz was my coach towards the end of my career – we became the directors of tennis at Long Cove Club in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina for 10 years. Then we both really fell in love with fly fishing and became sales reps in that industry, which is something we still do. It’s a team effort. I also do some volunteering with Meals on Wheels and basically try to soak up all the things Hilton Head Island has to offer, especially all the outdoor activities, like golf.
Who do you look up to, and why?
KMR: I look up to all the Original 9 girls who signed the dollar bill contracts to make a stand for women’s tennis. I’m proud to be one of them. Who would have guessed how far the WTA has come!