Jacqueline Onassis ooohed over Chevy Chase (“He’s so funny and attractive”) and aahed over Bruce Jenner (“He’s the fastest at the decathlon”). Cheryl Tiegs took a few forlorn swats at a tennis ball and moaned, “It takes me a while to get warmed up.” White House aide Ham Jordan aphorized, “Athletics and politics are nothing alike. In athletics you have to be coordinated. In politics you don’t.”
It wasn’t necessarily the most coordinated tennis, but the 86 players at the seventh annual Robert F. Kennedy Pro-Celebrity Tournament at Forest Hills did draw more than 12,000 fans who paid up to $125 a ticket. (The proceeds benefit disadvantaged youth.)
Arnold Schwarzenegger got the crowd all pumped up by taking his shirt off. Parker Stevenson grinned constantly and lost every set. Bill Cosby, who ran hard while partner Tiegs stayed planted at the net, shouted, “What is this, a new show called ‘Root’?”
Hostess Ethel Kennedy, a no-nonsense competitor, had moments of agonizing reappraisal after losing to chum Andy Williams: “I’m playing all right, but that one game was so bad I was embarrassed.” Carly Simon and hubby James Taylor were asked to enter. “I told Ethel we weren’t very good,” says Carly. “She said, That’s okay—I’ll put you with Shirley Mac-Laine and you’ll never know.’ ” (All three wisely avoided the courts, as it turned out.)
In the finals, Bruce Jenner and pro partner Anand Amritraj pulverized actress Dina Merrill and Clark Graebner, 6-0. But this was one tournament where winning or losing was less important than whom you played the game with. Mrs. Onassis took match point just by showing up. When her party got ready for lunch, she demurred, however. “Maybe I should stay here and not go,” she said. “It causes such a commotion when I move.” She was persuaded otherwise.