Yes, the Olympics is coming, but we hear a jolly little local tennis tournament is kicking off today too. Here are London’s tennis greats to get you warmed up.
1 King Henry VIII
When he wasn’t chopping off heads, the Greenwich-born monarch was pioneering real tennis: similar to lawn tennis but played indoors with a heavier bat and ball. He built a court at Hampton Court in1530.
2 Fred Perry
Perry was born in Stockport in 1909, but he moved to Ealing aged nine. He won three consecutive Wimbledon championships from 1934, in 1936 becoming the last Briton to win the Wimbledon men’s title. As if that wasn’t enough, he had also won the World Table Tennis Championships in 1929.
3 Kathleen ‘Kitty’ McKane Godfree
Born in Bayswater in 1896, Godfree won Wimbledon twice in 1924 and1926. She and her sister Margaret McKane Stocks reached the Wimbledon doubles final (they lost). The first, and last, time sisters achieved such a feat until the Venus and Serena Williams assault in 2000.
4 Henry Wilfred ‘Bunny’ Austin
Born in South Norwood in 1906, Austin was the last British tennis player to get to the men’s finals, in 1938. In 1932, he ditched the traditional tennis attire of cricket flannels, claiming they weighed him down too much, and became the first player to wear shorts at Wimbledon. He later became active in the Christian pacifist movement, and was denounced by the press as a communist draft-dodger.
5 Dorothy Lambert Chambers
Chambers was born in Ealing in 1878 and won Wimbledon seven times between 1903 and 1914. In 1910 she published a book called ‘Lawn Tennis for Ladies’, which included tips on keeping perfect ‘control of temper’, the importance of wrapping up warm after a game and appearance: ‘Though a girl should always try to be as neat and look as nice as she possibly can… I prefer that she should show some signs of excitement, that her muscles should be strained and her face set. This has a very real pleasure of its own, and I do not think it unsightly.’ Josephine Gurney-Read