"I felt honored to know her." Few things could be preferable to that when being spoken of at the time of one's passing. And so Chris Evert, the so-called ice queen of 1970s and '80s tennis, spoke of Barbara Bush, the 41st first lady of the United States who perpetually wore a strand of fake pearls around her neck.
Bush died on April 17 at age 92, leaving behind a dynastic family of politicians and passionate world-changers, as well as her own legacy of wit, tenacity, grandmotherly charm and a famous verve for the sport of tennis. She even went so far as to scold granddaughter Jenna Bush, via handwritten letters, over her "unsportsmanlike conduct" during a tennis match.
Bush was an icon: Along with Abigail Adams, she was the only woman to serve as first lady alongside one U.S. president and be mother to another leader of the free world. Retired tennis players including Evert, Billie Jean King and Pam Shriver shared remembrances via social media about this FLOTUS, one who reigned in the public conscience – Bush was immensely popular nationally, even globally – even as they were enjoying the latter days of their careers or recent retirements.
I had the privilege of spending time with Barbara several times over the years. She was always charismatic, classy, and a real dynamo. And, she loved tennis! Thinking of the Bush family and holding them in my thoughts and prayers. https://t.co/LNTMCt0S8J— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) April 18, 2018
Just over a year ago on an unexpected Houston layover do to bad weather, my daughter and I enjoyed a wonderful last minute visit with President and Mrs. Bush. We are sending prayers from LA.— Pam Shriver (@PHShriver) April 15, 2018
Other observers of both the sport and the formidable Bush political tale woven into the country's fabric recounted their own stories of how Barbara Bush was involved in tennis on an ongoing basis.
Barbara Bush kept elbowing me! A fond memory from the 80s at a celebrity tennis match at Vets Auditorium. She and VP Bush were in town and decided to stop by at the last minute. We chatted throughout the match and she couldn’t have been nicer. pic.twitter.com/EzZ14Txc6B— Todd Magel (@ToddMagelKCCI) April 18, 2018
As recently as 2015, George H.W. Bush and his wife had graced the stadium-court sideline at the U.S. Clay Court Championships in their beloved Houston.
Whatever a heaven might look like, let's hope FLOTUS 41 finds herself physically but also verbally volleying in an ageless realm.
Follow Jon on Twitter @jonscott9.
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