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This Week in Tennis History

First-time champions, retirements, British Wimbledon winners, the birth of Lacoste, the greatest match ever and the greatest tiebreak ever feature in this edition of This Week in Tennis History.

 

June 30th

1983 39 year-old Billie Jean King suffers her worst defeat in 110 singles matches at Wimbledon as she lost 6-1, 6-1 in 56 minutes to Andrea Jaeger in the singles semi-finals.

1991 For the first time in the history of Wimbledon, play is held on the Middle Sunday due to a rain-soaked first week. It was a huge deal as nobody is contracted to work on this Sunday. Only 52 of the scheduled 240 matches had been completed. The tournament opened all of its seats to fans on a first come, first serve basis. 11,000 Centre Court and 7,000 No.1 Court tickets were priced at £10 and grounds passes were £5.

2012 3-time Wimbledon runner-up Andy Roddick plays his last match at SW19. He is defeated in the 3rd round by Spain’s David Ferrer 6-2, 6-7, 4-6, 3-6 on Centre Court. Before the U.S. Open later that year, Roddick announced that he would retire from the game.

July 1st

1966 Manuel Santana becomes the first Spanish Wimbledon champion, defeating Dennis Ralston 6-4, 11-9, 6-4 in the final. He also makes history the following year, by becoming the first defending champion to lose in the 1st round.

1977 Great Britain’s Virginia Wade win the women’s singles title at the Centenary Wimbledon, defeating Betty Stove 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. Wade, the first British woman to win the title since 1969, is presented the Venus Rosewater Dish by Queen Elizabeth II.

2006 36 year-old Andre Agassi plays his final match at Wimbledon in his 14th appearance at the tournament. He loses in the 3rd round to French Open champion Rafael Nadal 7-6, 6-2, 6-4. Agassi, the 1992 champion, says “It’s just nice to come back here on my terms. I’ll look back at this as one of my memorable experiences.”

2013 Sabine Lisicki beats the reigning French Open champion, Serena Williams, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 on Centre Court. Williams was many people’s pick for the title. It is the 4th time Lisicki has defeated the French champion at Wimbledon, following on from Kuznetsova (2009), Li Na (2011) and Sharapova (2012).

July 2nd

1904 Rene Lacoste, 1/4 of France’s “Four Musketeers” and founder of sportswear brand Lacoste, is born in Paris. He would go on to win 3 French Open titles, 2 Wimbledon titles and 2 U.S. Championships. In 1927, he led France to a famous Davis Cup win over the United States, bringing the title to France for the first time. His nickname was the crocodile because he was known to “slither” around the back of the court – hence the Lacoste crocodile logo.

1988 19 year-old Steffi Graf ends Martina Navratilova 6 year stranglehold on the woman’s singles title at Wimbledon, defeating the 8-time champion 5-7, 6-2, 6-1. It is Graf’s 1st Wimbledon title and her third Grand Slam of the year; she would eventually complete the Calendar Grand Slam at the U.S. Open.

2001 Roger Federer registers a stunning 7-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 upset of 7-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras in the 4th round, ending the American’s 31 match winning streak at the tournament.

2011 Petra Kvitova wins her first Wimbledon title, defeating the favourite Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-4.

July 3rd

1970 In the longest women’s singles final in Wimbledon history, Margaret Court beats Billie Jean King 14-12, 11-9 in a 2 and a half hour classic. Tennis reporter, Bud Collins wrote “Both players were hurt. Court had a painfully strained and swollen ankle tightly strapped as she went on court. She had taken a pain-killing injection beforehand. King was hobbling on a deteriorated kneecap.”

1994 Conchita Martinez becomes the first Spanish woman to win the Wimbledon title, defeating Martina Navratilova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in what was Navratilova’s 12th and last singles final.

2004 In what is considered one of the biggest shocks of the tournament, 17 year-old Maria Sharapova powers her way to her first Grand Slam title, defeating the defending champion Serena Williams 6-1, 6-4. She becomes the first Russian to win the Wimbledon singles title.

2013 Jerzy Janowicz beats fellow Pole Lukasz Kubot 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 at Wimbledon to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final. He becomes the first Polish man to achieve this feat.

July 4th

1975 Billie Jean King wins the most lopsided Wimbledon singles final since 1911, defeating Evonne Goolagong 6-0, 6-1 to win her 6th singles title, and 19th overall, at the All-England Club.

1981 John McEnroe wins the Wimbledon men’s singles title for the first time, ending defending champion Bjorn Borg’s 41 match winning streak with a 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 victory. McEnroe goes on to win 2 more titles (1983 & 1984), while Borg never plays at Wimbledon again, virtually retiring from the sport at the end of the 1981 season.

1999 Pete Sampras claims a piece of tennis history winning his 6th Wimbledon title, defeating Andre Agassi 6-3, 6-4, 7-5. The win was the 12th Grand Slam title for Sampras, tying him with Roy Emerson as holder of the most men’s singles Major titles. In the women’s final, Lindsay Davenport defeats Steffi Graf 6-4, 7-5. Following the match, Graf announces that she will not return to the tournament. “I won’t be back. I won’t be here as a player again,” says Graf.

July 5th

1975 Arthur Ashe wins Wimbledon for the first time, becoming the first black man to win the men’s singles title, defeating Jimmy Connors 6-1, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4. The first All-American men’s final at Wimbledon since 1947 is played under bizarre circumstances as Connors has 2 lawsuits pending against Ashe – slander and liable – totalling $8 million.

1980 In one of the greatest matches in history, Bjorn Borg wins his 5th consecutive Wimbledon title, defeating John McEnroe 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7, 8-6 in 3 hours, 53 minutes. McEnroe saves 5 match points in the titanic 34-point 4th set tiebreak, that many commentators referred to as ‘The Battle of 18-16.”

1987 Pat Cash becomes the first Australian since John Newcombe in 1971 to win the men’s singles title at Wimbledon, beating Ivan Lendl 7-6, 6-2, 7-5. Following the win, Cash famously climbs into the player’s box to join his family and friends – a move that’s repeated by champions today.

1992 Andre Agassi wins his first Grand Slam title, defeating Goran Ivanisevic 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 at Wimbledon. Ironically, Agassi declared in 1987 that he would never return to the tournament after losing in the 1st round. He backtracked and returned in 1991.

2008 Venus Williams wins her 5th Wimbledon singles title, defeating younger sister Serena 7-5, 6-4. This final marks the 3rd Wimbledon final and 7th Grand Slam final where the sisters faced each other.

July 6th

1934 Fred Perry wins Wimbledon for the 1st time, defeating Australia’s Jack Crawford 6-3, 6-0, 7-5. “If I live to be 100, I’ll never play so well again,” says Perry. He becomes the first Brit to win the title since Arthur Gore in 1909 – the year Perry was born.

1989 Chris Evert says goodbye to Wimbledon as Steffi Graf defeats the 3-time champion 6-2, 6-1 in the semi-finals. It is Evert’s 109th and final match at SW19.

2003 Roger Federer wins his first Grand Slam title, defeating Mark Philippoussis 7-6, 6-2, 7-6 in the Wimbledon final. The 21 year-old Federer becomes the first Swiss man to win the title. He hits 21 aces and 50 winners against only 9 unforced errors in the final

2008 In what was widely described as one of the greatest tennis matches ever played, Rafael Nadal defeats Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7 in the Wimbledon men’s final. It is Nadal’s 1st Wimbledon title and he stops Federer’s run of 5 straight Wimbledon titles.

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