Death threats, Wimbledon upsets, McEnroe’s famous rant, line judge injuries, court christenings and the birth of a champion. It all happened This Week in Tennis History.
1974 Two 18-year olds – Bjorn Borg and Chris Evert – win their first Grand Slam titles at the French Open. Borg comes back from 2 sets down to defeat Manuel Orantes 2-6, 6-7, 6-0, 6-1, 6-1. Evert has an easier time in beating her doubles partner Olga Morozova 6-1, 6-2 to become the youngest winner since Christine Truman in 1959. Borg wins $24,000 in prize money, whereas Evert took home $8,000. This year, both singles champions received cheques for $2.5 million. Oh how times have changed!
1985 Just weeks before his breakthrough victory at Wimbledon, 17 year-old German Boris Becker wins his first ATP singles title at the Queens Club, beating Johan Kriek 6-2, 6-3.
2013 Andy Murray wins his 3rd Queens title, beating Marin Cilic 5-7, 7-5, 6-3. Following the final, Murray teamed with Tim Henman to take on Tomas Berdych and 8-time Grand Slam champion, Ivan Lendl in the Rally Against Cancer. The event was held to raise money for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity after Ross Hutchins was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in December 2012. Richard Branson, Boris Johnson, Michael McIntyre, Eddie Redmayne, Jonathan Ross and Jimmy Carr also took part in a celebrity exhibition match. Over £276,000 was raised – well above the £100,000 target.
1929 American TV broadcaster, writer and tennis historian, Arthur Worth “Bud” Collins is born in Lima, Ohio, He is best known for his work with the Boston Globe and with NBC Sports during its “Breakfast at Wimbledon” broadcasts from 1979 til 2007. Bud’s trademark is his colourful wardrobe, including bright bow ties and ‘loud’ trousers – custom made I’m sure [Seriously, Google some of his looks!]. In 1999 he was awarded the Red Smith Award by the Associated Press Sports Editors, which is America’s most prestigious sport writing honour.
1980 Venus Ebone Starr Williams is born in Lynwood, California. The 7-time Grand Slam winner burst onto the scene as a 17 year-old with beaded hair, reaching the U.S. Open final as an unseeded player in 1997. 3 years later, she becomes Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion, as well as singles and doubles gold medalist at the Sydney Olympics. Venus becomes the first black woman to reach World No.1 in the Open era in September 2002. She is credited with helping usher in the era of power into the women’s game.
2012 Marin Cilic defeats David Nalbandian 6-7, 4-3 in the final at Queens. The match is best known for Nalbandian kicking an advertising board and injuring a line judge. The Argentine is disqualified, giving Cilic the win, and he is fined £8,000 plus has to forfeit his prize money and ranking points.
1977 The United States wins the Fed Cup for the 6th time as Billie Jean King defeats Dianne Fromholtz 6-1, 6-2 and Chris Evert defeats Kerry Reid 7-5, 6-3 in their win over Australia in Eastbourne, England.
2006 Roger Federer ties Bjorn Borg’s record of 41 consecutive grass court victories after a 6-0, 6-7, 6-2 win against Tomas Berdych at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle.
1971 UCLA freshman, Jimmy Connors, wins the NCAA singles title, defeating Roscoe Tanner 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Connors becomes the first freshman to win the title – a distinction he now shares with John McEnroe who won it as a freshman in 1978.
2003 Dutchman Richard Krajicek, the 1996 Wimbledon champion, announces his retirement at the age of 31. During his career, he won 17 titles and achieved a ranking of No.4. Since retiring, Krajicek runs The Richard Krajicek Foundation which builds sports facilities for inner city children in the Netherlands.
2009 After losing for the first time at Roland Garros, defending champion Rafael Nadal announces that he will withdraw from Wimbledon, citing knee tendinitis. He is the first champion not to defend his title since Goran Ivanisevic in 2001. Nadal did not return to action until August.
1963 The United States wins the inaugural staging of the Fed Cup, claiming a 2-1 win over Australia at Queens Club in London. The Fed Cup is founded as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
1990 “I am like an orange without any juice.” And with that statement, Hana Mandlikova announces that she will retire after Wimbledon at 28. Mandlikova wins 4 Grand Slam titles during her career and was ranked as high as No.4 in the world.
2003 Mohammed Akhtar Hossai of Bangladesh becomes the youngest player to compete in Davis Cup when at the age of 13 years, 326 days, he teams with Abu-Hena Tasawar Collins in a straight sets loss to Maung-Tu Maw and Min Min of Burma.
1937 In the first live broadcast of a tennis match, Bunny Austin plays Ireland’s George Lyttleton-Rogers on Centre Court at the Wimbledon Championships. Austin defeats Rogers 3-6, 8-6, 6-1, 6-2. The BBC broadcasts 25 minutes of play to an estimated audience of 1,500 Londoners who were fancy enough to own a television at the time.
1994 In what is still regarded as a huge upset in Wimbledon history, Steffi Graf becomes the first defending women’s champion to lose in the first round, falling to Lori McNeil 7-5, 7-6. It was Steffi’s only loss at Wimbledon between 1991 and 1997. After the match, Graf simply says, “She was better than me.” McNeil would go onto reach the semi-finals, losing to eventual champion, Conchita Martinez.
2005 French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne is beaten 7-6, 2-6, 7-5 by Eleni Daniilidou of Greece in the first round at Wimbledon. Justine becomes the first Roland Garros women’s champion since Margaret Smith in 1962 to lose her opening match at Wimbledon. The job of taking out the reigning French Open champion now seems to have been taken over by Sabine Lisicki.
2005 Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic serves 51 aces – the most ever recorded in a main draw match in the Open era – but loses to Daniele Bracciali 6-7, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 12-10 at Wimbledon.
1922 Wimbledon’s Centre Court is christened as King George V and Queen Mary attend the opening day of The Championships. Featuring 9,989 seats and room for 3,600 standees, it is the jewel in Wimbledon’s crown. The court has been modified many times and now has a capacity of 15,000 – all seated of course!
1977 In what reporters described as ‘Wild Wednesday’ at Wimbledon, 2 seeded men are beaten, 5 former champions are almost upset, 14 year-old Tracy Austin debuts and Ilie Nastase threatens to kill a reporter from the New York Times. No.5 seed Brian Gottfried is beaten by Byron Bertam of France, while No.10 seed Adriano Panatta is dismissed by Alex Mayer. Billie Jean King is tested by Anne Smith before winning 6-8, 6-0, 6-3 and defending champion Bjorn Borg comes back from 2 sets to love down to defeat Mark Edmondson. Jimmy Connors battles back to win 6-4, 8-9, 6-1, 8-6. During Nastase’s match, he stops play for 10 minutes. Afterwards his opponent, Andrew Pattison, tells Neil Amdur that he thought the stoppage was intentional, Nastase lunges at Amdur and exclaims “If you write what he says, I kill you.” Just an average day at SW19.
1981 John McEnroe’s famous rant! In his first round win over Tom Gullickson at Wimbledon, McEnroe calls chair umpire Edward James “the pits of the world” and and “incompetent fool.” He also utters the now immortal line “You cannot be serious!!” McEnroe smashed 2 racquets on his way to victory and was given 2 point penalties. He went onto win the title.
1999 In another Wimbledon upset, No.1 Martina Hingis loses 6-2, 6-0 in 54 minutes to 16 year-old qualifier Jelena Dokic. This comes weeks after Hingis dramatically loses in the French Open final to Steffi Graf, after being booed by the crowd for bad behaviour. Dokic went onto reach the quarter-finals.
1999 Roger Federer makes his main draw debut at Wimbledon and loses to Jiri Novak, 6-3, 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Eilís Brennan, Pundit Arena