Former Wimbledon Champ Takes Part In U.S. Open Pickleball Championship

Posted on April 28 2018

Wimbledon Champ plays U.S Open Pickleball Championship

Few things can add legitimacy to a new sport quite like a former champion in another sport taking it up and playing well. From a game aspect, it’s an opportunity for people to see the sport played by someone recognized for her excellence in a similar sport.

However, from a competitive standpoint, it can be seen as a reason not to enter. Going from one of the biggest stages in tennis to something with “pickle” in the name could be looked at as a major step down. Also, other contestants could be scared off by the “former Wimbledon champion.”

It would be like finding out Warren Moon is the quarterback for the flag football team you’re playing against. Yeah, he’s long past his prime, but he is a Hall of Famer for a reason.

But a former Wimbledon champion is taking part in the U.S. Open Pickleball Championship this week—JoAnne Russell.



Russell, now 63, was played on the WTA Tour back in the 1970’s and 80’s. Over the course of her career, she won six titles, two singles and four doubles including the 1977 Wimbledon Ladies’ Doubles title.

So—how does a former Wimbledon champion end up taking part in the U.S. Open Pickleball Championship?

After she retired from the Tour, she became the tennis pro at the Grey Oaks Country Club in Naples, Florida. A few years ago, the club tennis director asked her to take up pickleball, so she could teach members.

But does pickleball compare to playing tennis?

“It’s the same exact stroke I use in tennis,” Russell said (via “People ask if (pickleball) bothers my tennis game. No. My footwork is so good for tennis. If you’re playing (pickleball) at a pretty good level, you start moving better in tennis. Your legs are so fit.”

She loves it and is now an avid competitor. She took part in the U.S. Open Pickleball Championship last year and won gold in the over-50 doubles 5.0 skill division with her partner, Gee Gee Garvin.

This year, she had a new partner, Stephanie Lane. They ended up losing in the semifinals match to Alex Hammer and Jennifer Lucore.

“Win or lose, she is just a dream partner,” Lane said (NaplesNews). “It’s so exciting to get to play with such a champion as JoAnne.”

The U.S. Open Pickleball Championship closes out National Pickleball Month with a week of competition at the East Naples Community Park. Over $40,000 in prize money will be awarded.

Pickleball has been around since the 1960s when it was created in Bainbridge, Washington.

It is most easily described as a cross between badminton, tennis, and ping pong. It is now played in countries around the world including India, New Zealand, Canada, Finland, Spain, France, and Belgium.

Cruise liners are starting to include as one of the daily activities available to passengers. It has grown enough in popularity to warrant the formation of the International Federation of Pickleball.


Kollectaball Blog

Pickleball ball Collector

Play Pickleball but hate collecting the balls? Kollectaball has a range of Pickleball collectors that will stop you from getting in a pickle collecting!

We have two units that will collect Pickleball balls, the Kollectaball Mini, the Kollectaball Max and the Kollectaball Feeder.

You may have seen our ball collectors for other sports or even the agricultural markets collecting fruits and nuts.

Each Kollectaball has 60 wires that insert into a circular ring creating a wire cage that has the perfect tension and flexibility to allow tennis balls to enter and hold them in the cage.

To collect Pickleballs, all you have to do is use half the wires and away you go! By placing only 30 wires in the cage, you give the cage less tension meaning lighter balls will not ping off the wires.

If you haven’t already, check out our video of the K-MAX collecting Pickleball balls!

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