It's been 50 years since Helen Worland visited the All England Lawn Tennis Club

WHAT A CAREER: This month marks 50 years since Helen Worland's improbable appearance at Wimbledon in 1970. Photo: JUDE KEOGH
WHAT A CAREER: This month marks 50 years since Helen Worland's improbable appearance at Wimbledon in 1970. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

It's been half a century since Helen Worland played at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club but the evergreen 70-year-old is just as passionate about tennis today as she was then.

Helen and her husband Ian are currently the world champions in the 65-70 age bracket after the dynamic duo won the most recent seniors event at Croatia in 2019 and don't plan on stopping their doubles run anytime soon.

It was in the doubles circuit where Worland qualified for Wimbledon in 1970 when she and a playing partner were touring the world, bouncing from event-to-event when they were fortunate enough to earn a spot in the world's most prolific tennis tournament.

"We started off in South Africa and travelled through Europe ... I was only 19 at the time," Worland said.

"It was very different in London. We played against Rosie Casals, Billie Jean King and Margaret Court.

"You have to play well against those types of people and you really appreciate the names you're going up against."

While she had the time of her life on tour as a young lady, Worland cherishes those memories more and more as she gets older and says she's always reminiscing with her former playing partners.

"I appreciate the events more now than when I was playing them," she said. "At the time, you're so intent on doing well and the next step and all those things.

"But, when we look back now, we're in awe of what we've done."

After she returned from England, Worland's young career was somewhat interrupted when she ran into a gentleman at a tournament in Victoria - a man she'd end up spending the ensuing 50 years with.

I appreciate those events more today than when I was playing in them.

Helen Worland.

"When I got back to Australia I was sent to be coached by Keith Rogers who was Margaret Court's coach," she said.

"But, I met a fellow that I really, really liked at Wangaratta. A lot of tennis girls meet tennis fellows and it's nice that their careers are able to continue."

While her love life took precedent for a short time in her early 20s, the partnership she had with Ian led to a the the formation of doubles team, too, and even though they won't be travelling abroad in 2020 they've already had a memorable run together.

"We've been around the world a few times and it's been really special," she said. "We've been to Brazil, Turkey, Poland and Croatia."

Worland lives 10km out of Orange at Emu Swamp and, instead of playing tennis in Europe's finest sporting cities this year, will stick to her backyard facilities. She has a tennis court right next to her house.

This story Magic milestone: Worland celebrates half a century since Wimbledon first appeared on Central Western Daily.