The women of Wimbledon – Home-grown champions from the past
The Championships, Wimbledon is the most famous tennis event in the British sporting calendar. It was first contested in 1877 and played on outdoor grass courts at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) in the Wimbledon suburb of London, United Kingdom.
The Ladies’ Singles tournament began in 1884, and the women’s game has developed massively over the last century. We are all familiar with the incredible Williams sisters, but our own Nation has a pretty impressive history in the Women’s singles, which is often overlooked by the British media.
Dorothy Round Little won her first title in 1934 — the same year as her British male counterpart Fred Perry also won his first. She won her second Wimbledon title at age 29 in 1937. A devout Christian, she often refused to play on Sundays. She published two books, Modern Lawn Tennis and Tennis For Girls. After her retirement in 1939 she worked as a coach, journalist, and president of the Worcester Lawn Tennis Club.
Florence Angela Margaret Mortimer Barrett beat another English player Christine Truman Janes to become Wimbledon’s women’s singles champion in 1961. She was aged 29 and partially deaf.
Ann Haydon-Jones had already won the French Open and U.S. Open twice before winning Wimbledon in 1969. She first showed her talent as a young girl. Her father was a table tennis champion and he encouraged her competitive spirit. She played the famous Billie Jean King several times but never beat her until her win at Wimbledon. Haydon-Jones was also the first left-handed female singles player to win the championship.
Virginia Wade was a maths graduate, famed for her powerful serve. She defeated Billie Jean King at the US Open, earning her first Grand Slam title. She went on to win the Australian Open in 1972, and in 1977, nearly a decade after her first victory, Wade would become Wimbledon’s last British singles winner for 36 years. The year she won, defeating Dutch player Betty Stöve at Wimbledon was the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and Queen Elizabeth II herself was present to enjoy her victory.
It remains to be seen whether current British number one Johanna Konta can better her semi-final performance in 2017 to add her name to the list of amazing female British tennis players who have held the Wimbledon trophy aloft.
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