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This Week in Tennis History – Wimbledon Wonders

A pretty historical week in this edition: Billie Jean King makes it 20 at Wimbledon, German tennis reigns supreme, Federer equals Borg and Sampras, Arthur Ashe is born and Andy Murray silences his critics.


July 7th

1979 Billie Jean King wins her record 20th Wimbledon title, teaming with Martina Navratilova to defeat Wendy Turnbull and Betty Stove 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 in the women’s doubles final. King breaks the record she previously shared with Elizabeth Ryan who, tragically, died of a heart attack while attending the women’s singles final the day before.

1985 17 year-old Boris Becker becomes the youngest men’s singles champion in Wimbledon history when he beats Kevin Curren 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4. He also becomes the first unseeded champion.

2013 77 years of British hurt were ended as Andy Murray became Wimbledon champion. He beat Novak Djokovic in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4, to become the first British man since Fred Perry to win the title. Murray becomes Scotland’s first Wimbledon singles champion since Harold Mahony in 1896.

July 8th

1978 Bjorn Borg wins Wimbledon for the 3rd straight time, easily beating Jimmy Connors 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. Borg becomes the first man to win 3 successive Wimbledon singles titles since Fred Perry in 1934, ’35 and ’36. Perry, a broadcaster at the tournament, was the first to offer congratulations. Connors says of Borg after the match, “I’ll chase that son of a bitch to the ends of the earth” in order to beat him.

1996 Martina Hingis becomes the youngest winner of a women’s title at Wimbledon when, at 15 years and 282 days, she pairs with Helena Sukova to defeat Meredith McGrath and Larisa Neiland 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 in rain-delayed Monday doubles final. Hingis is 3 days younger than Charlotte Dod was in 1887 when she won her first Wimbledon title. A year later, the ‘Swiss Miss’ would win the singles title.

2007 With Bjorn Borg watching in the Royal Box, Roger Federer wins his 5th straight Wimbledon title – equalling the mark set by Borg from 1976-80 – with a 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 victory over Rafael Nadal.

2012 Roger Federer wins his 7th Wimbledon title, putting him level with Pete Sampras and William Renshaw. He beat Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

July 9th

1989 In a great day for German tennis, Boris Becker and Steffi Graf win Wimbledon singles titles. Graf wins a rain-delayed women’s final defeating Martina Navratilova 6-2, 6-7, 6-1, while Becker beat defending champion Stefan Edberg 6-0, 7-6, 6-4. It is the first time that Germany takes both titles in the same year and the first time since 1925 that a European country takes both singles titles.

2001 In one of the greatest Wimbledon finals ever, Goran Ivanisevic edges Pat Rafter 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 9-7 in a rain-delayed ‘People’s Monday’ final. Ivanisevic, a 3-time runner-up, becomes the lowest ranked player to win the title. The Croat was ranked No.125 in the world and needed a wildcard to enter the tournament. After his victory the 29 year-old says, “This is so great, to touch the trophy. I mean, I don’t even care now if I ever win a match in my life again.”

2006 Roger Federer stops a 5-match losing streak to Rafael Nadal to win the Wimbledon title for a 4th time. He beat his Spanish rival 6-0, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3.

July 10th

1943 Arthur Ashe is born in Richmond, Virginia. Ashe is the first black man to win a Major title when, as an amateur, he wins the 1968 U.S. Open defeating Tom Okker. He went on to win 2 more Grand Slam titles – the 1970 Australian Open and 1975 Wimbledon. In 1963, Ashe became the first black player to participate on the U.S. Davis Cup team and is named captain in 1981. After retirement, Arthur becomes a humanitarian, social advocate and, after contracting AIDS via blood transfusion in the 1980s, a public crusader against the disease.

1978 Martina Navratilova becomes World No.1 for the first time her career. She holds the ranking for 331 weeks during her career – a record surpassed by Steffi Graf who held the top spot for 377 weeks.

1999 Highlighted by a 45 minute acceptance speech, John McEnroe is inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. McEnroe is introduced by his college friend and Olympic gold medal winning speed skater, Eric Heiden. During his speech, Heiden says of John, “He’s probably the most controversial player in modern tennis. He took whining to the next level.”

July 11th

1981 Stan Smith and Bob Lutz play what turns out to be their final Davis Cup match for the United States as they beat Ivan Lendl and Tomas Smid 9-7, 6-3, 6-2 to give the U.S. a 2-1 lead over Czechoslovakia in the quarter-final.

1982 John McEnroe and Mats Wilander play what at the time is the longest match in tennis history. They battled it out for 6 hours and 22 minutes in a Davis Cup quarter-final before McEnroe wins it 9-7, 6-2, 15-17, 3-6, 8-6. The 3rd set itself lasts 2 hours, 39 minutes. The record only stands for 2 years. Vicky Nelson-Dunbar and Jean Hepner play for 6 and a half hours in 1984. In 2004, it is broken again as Arnaud Clement and Fabrice Santoro are on court for 6 hours, 33 minutes. Right now, the record stands at 11 hours, 5 minutes – set by John Isner and Nicolas Mahut at the 2011 Wimbledon.

2004 The International Tennis Hall of Fame celebrates its 50th anniversary as it induces Steffi Graf, Stefan Edberg and Dorothy “Dodo” Cheney. On the former grounds of the U.S. Championships [now U.S. Open], 50 Hall of Famers attend the ceremony, including Rod Laver, Margaret Court, Jack Kramer, Chris Evert, John McEnroe, Stan Smith, Maria Bueno, Roy Emerson among others. The ceremonies are highlighted by Andre Agassi’s induction speech for his wife, Steffi Graf, which brings the 22-time Grand Slam champion to tears. Wiping her eyes, Graf says “Not that this occasion was emotional enough. To hear you are loved so much is amazing.”

July 12th

1981 John McEnroe beats Tomas Smid 6-3, 6-1, 6-4  to clinch victory for the United States in the Davis Cup quarter-final at the USTA National Tennis Centre in Flushing, New York. Jimmy Connors completes the 4-1 win over the Czechs defeating Ivan Lendl 7-5, 6-4.

2003 Boris Becker in inducted into the Hall of Fame, along with Francoise Durr, Nancy Richey and Brian Tobin. Of his passion for tennis, Becker says, “Tennis has always been my hobby and my passion. To call it my job later in life is something, as a boy, I could have never imagined.”

July 13th 

1924 Play begins in the tennis at the Olympic Games in Paris. U.S. entries Helen Wills, Frank Hunter and Vincent Richards all advance. Suzanne Lenglen, the world’s top female player, withdraws from the competition due to illness.

2004 Andre Agassi wins his 800th ATP match as he beats Alex Bogomolov 6-3, 6-1 in the 1st round of the Mercedes Benz Cup in Los Angeles. Agassi joins Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Guillermo Vilas, John McEnroe and Stefan Edberg as the only players in the Open era to achieve this feat.

2008 Fabrice Santoro, nicknamed “The Magician” due to his unorthodox style and shot making abilities, beats Prakash Amritraj, the son of Vijay Amritraj, 6-3, 7-5 to successfully defend his singles title at the Hall of Fame Championships in Newport. Amritraj falls short in his attempt to win the same title his father won in 1980 and 1984.

Eilís Brennan, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.