4 British Women Who Won Wimbledon Before Andy Murray
Murray has been celebrated as Britain's first Wimbledon singles champ in 77 years. But since Fred Perry's victory in 1936, four British women have done the same exact thing.
Dorothy Round Little, 1937
Dorothy Round Little won her second Wimbledon title at age 29 with "dazzling cross-court backhands" against Polish player Jadwiga Jędrzejowska. It was 1937, one year after Andy Murray's predecessor Fred Perry won his last male singles title. (Little won her first title in 1934 — the same year Perry won his first.)
With her "large heart and agile mind," Little often refused to play on Sundays. She published two books, Modern Lawn Tennis and Tennis For Girls, before her last Wimbledon appearance in 1939. After retiring, she worked as a coach, journalist, and president of the Worcester Lawn Tennis Club.
Angela Mortimer Barrett, 1961
Florence Angela Margaret Mortimer Barrett beat her fellow Englishwoman Christine Truman Janes to become Wimbledon's women's singles champion in 1961. A "wily tactician with a limitless supply of determination," Barrett too was 29 at the time of her victory. She was also partially deaf and recovering from a virus she picked up in Egypt after winning the French championship in 1955.
She retired in 1964, having never won another Grand Slam title. You can watch archival video of Barrett's winning match here.
Ann Haydon-Jones, 1969
By the time she won her first Wimbledon singles championship in 1969, Ann Haydon-Jones had already won the French Open and U.S. Open — both twice. She had also written a book, Tackle Table Tennis This Way, in 1958.
She began playing tennis at a young age; her father, Adrian Haydon, was a famous table tennis player, but even he couldn't have predicted Ann would become "one of the great players in the history of her nation."
Haydon-Jones rose up in the era of Billie Jean King, and several times the two players met, King walked away the winner. But at Wimbledon 1969, Haydon-Jones finally beat her rival, becoming the first left-handed female singles player to win the championship. It was her last Grand Slam tournament.
Virginia Wade, 1977
In 1968, two years after she finished her math studies at the University of Sussex, Virginia Wade defeated Billie Jean King at the US Open, earning her first Grand Slam title. She would go on to win the Australian Open in 1972, but it wasn't until 1977, nearly a decade after that first victory, that Wade would become Wimbledon's last British singles winner for 36 years.
Wade was a "ferocious competitor" with an unmatched serve. The year she defeated Dutch player Betty Stöve at Wimbledon was the Queen's Silver Jubilee. The Guardian described it as a "taut and edgy" match; the pressure was on, as Queen Elizabeth II herself came to watch.
On Monday, the day after Andy Murray's historic victory, the Guardian declared Virginia Wade "written out of British history." She may have seen this coming — there's been a certain bitterness between the two since last year, when Wade, a frequent critic of today's game, called Murray a "drama queen" after he suffered a back spasm. But before his Wimbledon appearance, Wade praised the young tennis star.
"It would be fabulous if Andy could win, he is so dedicated," she told the Daily Mail. "He studies the game and has worked so hard on his game to eliminate weaknesses.'