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When English players triumphed at Wimbledon

Posted in Historical articles, History, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Wednesday, 27 February 2013

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This edited article about tennis originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 164 published on 6 March 1965.

Fred Perry, picture, image, illustration

Wimbledon champions Fred Perry and Dorothy Round (inset)

Wimbledon . . . and an English crowd thrills to the power-packed forehand drive of a young player slashing his way through the finals of the men’s singles. A few moments later they are on their feet, cheering wildly, as game, set and match are declared his. Fred Perry has won the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship – the first Englishman to do so for twenty-five years.

In that same week in 1934 at Wimbledon another English player, Dorothy Round, a former Sunday School teacher, romped home to victory in the women’s singles over her redoubtable opponent, the American star Helen Jacobs, and collapsed in tears of relief in her mother’s arms afterwards.

And so 1934 was the year in which England celebrated two first-class tennis victories at Wimbledon by young stars over seasoned players from all parts of the world.

The public did not take much notice of Fred and Dorothy, both born in 1909, when they first started working their way up through British tennis tournaments. After all, their names were so ordinary and English, unlike the splendid-sounding titles of current popular champions – Lili Alvarez, Von Cramm, Helen Wills Moody. Only the selectors watched and encouraged.

Fred, son of a Midland M.P. and already an ex-table tennis champion, took up lawn tennis in 1929. Two years later he was picked to play in the British Davis Cup team. By 1933 he was American singles champion and French doubles champion. A year later he made his sensational win against the Wimbledon title holder, Jack Crawford (6-3, 6-0, 7-5). In a fast and furious game it took him just eight minutes after losing his first three games to get into his winning third set.

Dorothy, from Worcester, soon won herself the title of the “girl who would not play tennis on Sundays.” She kept this resolution all through her career. Her first big chance came when she was picked for the Wightman Cup team against America in 1931. In 1933 and 1934 she won the British Hard-court championships. After her great win at Wimbledon in 1934 she went on to win the Australian championships as well.

One of the greatest sights in lawn tennis, before Fred turned professional and Dorothy retired to marry a doctor, was in 1935 and in 1936, when the two played side by side to win the mixed doubles at Wimbledon.

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