January 14, 1966- October 17, 2013
I knew the Simpson family when Rene was a junior. Burt and Jane always supported Rene as they helped foster the qualities you learn to respect in any champion. I was always amazed at her tenacity and competitiveness which was rare to see in a junior player.
This ability to compete while displaying the proper values you want in any individual made her special. Her junior career, followed by her unbelievable achievement of winning 44 matches at Texas Christian University and her successful professional career on the WTA tour made her a natural candidate to lead our country’s national Fed Cup Team.
As the Fed Cup captain for Canada I had the opportunity to really get to respect Rene’s passion and courage. For six years and in 10 ties against the powers of the sport France, Germany, Spain, US and Czechoslovakia she was instrumental in keeping Canada’s team in the upper echelon of the world’s team competition. As I reflect, one special moment comes to mind: Ancona, Italy – Saturday April 22 Canada vs Italy in a tie where Canada were heavy underdogs. The first match of the day on the red Italian clay courts, Rene faced heavy favourite, top 30 WTA star Sandra Cecchini. Rene was relentless, imposing her will and determination until the Italian star basically folded. The 6-4, 6-3 victory changed the whole complexity of the tie, Canada was on its way to a 3-2 victory and back in the World Group. To this day I remember Rene’s smile as she walked towards the bench after shaking hands with her opponent. I choose to remember Rene that way.
To Burt, Jane, Carol, Anne and Jason our thoughts and prayers are with you.