Golden age for champ
88-year-old star eyes off singles title
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.”
PLAYING TENNIS AGAIN WOKE ME UP AGAIN, REMINDED ME THAT LIFE IS TO LIVE – YOU FORGET THAT SOMETIMES. MARGARET FISHER
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.