Golden age for champ

88-year-old star eyes off sin­gles ti­tle

Western Times - - OLDER & WISER - TA­NIA PHILLIPS For more, go to poz­i­ project/88-gold.

MAR­GARET Fisher has her eyes on a big prize – fi­nally win­ning gold in the sin­gles cham­pi­onships for Aus­tralia at the World Su­per Seniors Ten­nis Cham­pi­onships in Croa­tia, which start in late Septem­ber. As there are no pub­lic spon­sor­ship funds avail­able for elite el­derly ath­letes, the 88-yearold pen­sioner, By­ron Shire’s 2018 Cit­i­zen of the Year, is cur­rently crowd­fund­ing to make the jour­ney. She’d like to de­fend both her over-85s mixed dou­bles and women’s dou­bles ti­tles, won last year in Florida. But it’s the big one she re­ally wants now – the gold that has eluded the dual gold medal­list for the past eight years – the world sin­gles ti­tle. “I’d love to have the triple,” she laughed. “But it would be just nice to win the sin­gles. “I’m go­ing to try my very, very, very best!” And you can be sure she will give it a red-hot go as Mar­garet doesn’t do any­thing by halves, nor is she one to give up, no mat­ter what gets in her way. This be­came clear three years ago when she was knocked off the court by cancer. Her fit­ness level en­hanced the med­i­cal op­tions avail­able to her and as a re­sult she made a full re­cov­ery. Not only that, but the next year she was back play­ing world cham­pi­onship ten­nis and re­turned home from the ti­tles in Croa­tia with the 2016 sin­gles sil­ver medal. At 88, she is not only still play­ing ten­nis, she is fit­ter than she was at 80, 70 or even 60. At 80 she couldn’t run to the net. At 88 she can run all over the court. She plays five days a week against much younger op­po­nents at By­ron and most week­ends does half an hour’s serv­ing prac­tice each day with her trusty dog “coach” Leo jump­ing and catch­ing her serves. The two are lo­cal celebri­ties around the Bay. Mar­garet has al­ways loved ten­nis, “learn­ing on Mr Ken­dall’s 17 beau­ti­ful grass courts” as a young girl grow­ing up in Al­bury on the NSW/Vic­to­rian border. They are the same courts that Mar­garet Court learned to play on. In 1953 the then 23-year-old teacher went to Lon­don to play at Wim­ble­don. “My father in­sisted I have a job to go to over there be­fore I left,” she said. So Mar­garet taught, played ten­nis and saw Lon­don, and it gave her a wan­der­lust she’s never re­ally lost. This next trip will be her third to Croa­tia. How­ever life, busy ca­reers first in teach­ing and then at Par­lia­ment House in Can­berra, and rais­ing four chil­dren meant that for many years ten­nis took a back seat – with Mar­garet play­ing so­cial games when she could. That was un­til eight years ago – on the eve of her 80th birth­day. “My younger brother Ian was go­ing to Turkey (for the World Ti­tles), there were places in the team,” she said. “I think I got a bronze in the mixed dou­bles that year. “Play­ing ten­nis again woke me up again, re­minded me that life is to live – you for­get that some­times.”


Photo: Con­trib­uted

SU­PER SE­NIOR: Ten­nis champ Mar­garet Fisher, pic­tured with her dog Leo, is keen to claim gold in the sin­gles cham­pi­onships at the World Su­per Seniors Ten­nis Cham­pi­onships in Croa­tia.

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