Where are they now? Pancho Gonzalez

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The Independent Online
MENTION Pancho Gonzalez and most memories long enough will recall the first-round match against Charlie Pasarell in 1969, before tie-breaks, which began with a first-set score of 22-24 and became the longest Wimbledon singles of all time, the 41-year-old Gonzalez winning 11-9 in the fifth after five hours and 12 minutes and 112 games. Fewer will remember that almost throughout the 1950s, Gonzalez was world No 1.

But that was on the professional circuit, with which Wimbledon then had no truck. 'I regret that I was unable to be there in my prime,' Gonzalez says today. 'I was proud to play Wimbledon in the open era, but when you get past 40 you are bound to be suspect.'

Born in California of Mexican parents, Gonzalez moved to Las Vegas in 1970 to become director of tennis at Caesars Palace casino and still lives there, working now for an agency that organises tennis tournaments for business executives. 'We go to the Bahamas and Hawaii among other places. It is like having paid vacations and it encourages me to stay in shape.'

He last visited the All England Club 15 years ago, while making the film Players, in which he coached John McEnroe. They tried the arrangement in real life once, 'but our temperaments were so similar that we lasted about half an hour'.

Now 65 and the father of eight children, Gonzalez only recently gave up playing senior tournaments. His marriage to Rita Agassi, Andre's older sister, ended in divorce three years ago.

(Photograph omitted)

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