Favourite players (in no particular order) will feature somewhere in this section when it has been completed.
2017 - Virginia Wade - 40 years on!
The Daily Mail kindly reminds us of this milestone in Women's Tennis and gives Virginia the opportunity to sound off about a few matters that have been niggling her not least the figure 77 being gazumped by Andy Murray! Not known for not saying it as it is another Daily Mail interview allows Virginia to speak out. Visit her own website here
Wimbledon Champion of 1977 - image courtesy & © of Getty Images
Not a great fan of tennis HM the Queen attends the Wimbledon Ladies Singles Final in her 1977 Jubilee Year (Virginia says she didn't hear a word HM spoke to her) - image courtesy & © of the Press Association
Beats Sharapova in front of the Eiffel Tower any day - Virginia at Wimbledon - image courtesy & © of PAimages
An affectionate set of 'Flik-Cards' featuring Virginia Wade - image courtesy of the official Virginia Wade website
Virginia was awarded the O.B.E. in 1986 - no Damehood yet however!
Roger Federer - 18th Grand Slam
I don't know the provenance of this image but Roger, who is a Leo, has been compared to the leonine wonder and headlines such as Roger Federer, The Return of the King, or just Roger Federer, The Lion King are absolutely spot on!
l to r Rafa Nadal, Rod Laver, Roger Federer and trophies - images courtesy and copyright of the ATP
What a year 2017 was in tennis, the grandees showing the young(er) whippersnappers that their day was not yet done. As James Keothavong features below it is exceptionally rewarding to see that he was chosen to umpire the final and the tournament organisers made special mention of the respect that Nadal and Federer showed one another throughout the match. This was a match to remember - my thanks to these champions and true interpreters of the 'gentleman's' game/
Anne & James Keothavong
Before anyone says anything - yes, I know James is not a player, rather an umpire - the best!
Anne Keothavong - image courtesy and © of the Lawn Tennis Association
I was pleased as punch to hear that Anne had been appointed as Federation Cup Captain because she was seriously wasted as a BT commentator especially when Sam Smith wanted to draw her into 'girlie popcorn' discussions. Anne didn't like being hurried and always made a considered and valuable contribution but she did tend to get muddled when rushed by the more accomplished Sam. I hate bad grammar at the best of times and both fell into the trap of using 'also' and 'as well' in the same sentence - it's not reinforcement, it's appallingly bad repetition! Another trap is the overuse of a suddenly discovered favourite such as the aforementioned 'popcorn' in relation to tennis matches. I believe that Anne has the gravitas and knowledge to get the right sort of results, although she starts her job with an unexpected and difficult task in that star player, who relies so much on the 'process' has just lost her link to the guru that kept her on the straight and narrow that led to the mega-success of last year. I wish them and Heather (who is in danger of morphing into a ladette if she's not careful) and the back-up team the best and most successful of seasons. I like this current and fresh GB team - so don't let the LTA and Jeremy Bates, whom I also admire as a British player who like others before and after him shouldered the burden of the lone British star for many years, interfere too much. Remember also that the Keothavongs seem to have tennis running through their veins, James, after all is one of the top Umpires in the game, spare a thought that he will never be able to umpire major British victories whilst stars like the Murrays and Konta continue to play at the highest level regularly!
Johanna Konta Starts Year 2017
What a start to the year, Jo matches her previous appearance (quarter-final in 2016) and wins the whole tournament taking out Caroline Wozniaki (no stranger to winning major titles) on the way. A well deserved win for Jo and here's hoping she keeps doing great things for British tennis in Virginia Wade's 40th anniversary Wimbledon win year. Let's restore the pride of the number 77 to Virginia!
Image courtesy of the Team GB website
The accolades are pouring in : The Telegraph says "Johanna Konta claims biggest title by any British woman for 40 years as she defeats Caroline Wozniacki" | From the BBC website, short and sweet "Johanna Konta beats Caroline Wozniacki to claim Miami Open title" | From the NY Times mention of her new ranking "Johanna Konta Wins Miami Open to Reach No. 7 in Rankings" | Even the Sun praises Jo "Johanna Konta wins Miami Open after brushing aside Caroline Wozniacki to make British tennis history"
The final point beautifully summarised by ESPN and equally typically played down by Jo herself - "Johanna Konta lifted the lob high in the air on match point. Caroline Wozniacki, who was crouched at the net, whirled and dashed madly toward the baseline. As the ball landed -- with no out call -Konta dropped her racket in disbelief that she'd won.
Wozniacki flung her free hand in the air to challenge the call, hoping to extend Saturday's Miami Open final. Konta stood there, her heart thumping in time with the public address system's dramatic audio track as the replay appeared on the large screens. The lob kissed the line. Konta, a 25-year-old from Great Britain, had just won her first big tournament 6-4, 6-3, clearing one of the taller hurdles on the WTA Tour.
"I couldn't believe it was really over," Konta said of that moment later. "I was convinced there were more points coming."
Johanna Konta's Year End 2016
Seeded No. 1 and leader of the Azalea Group at the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai - what an achievement!
All Zhuhai images courtesy and © of the WTA
Johanna Konta's Sensational 2016
What a stellar year for Johanna Konta - she's made it to the top 10 but not quite the top 8 - but she is in Singapore!
Maybe Jo didn't make the elite 8 but she won the 'Most Improved Player of the Year' award - image courtesy and © of the WTA
From the WTA website :
SINGAPORE - Johanna Konta has been overwhelmingly voted as 2016 WTA Most Improved Player Of The Year.
Konta has enjoyed her best season to date, starting at the Australian Open, where she became the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since Jo Durie in 1983. She went on to match Durie in ranking as well as result, finally ending the drought of British women in the Top 10 after reaching the final of the China Open, a Premier Mandatory event. In between, Konta captured her first WTA title at the Bank of the West Classic, stunning former No.1 and Stanford champion Venus Williams in three scintillating sets. In 10 matches against Top 10 players, Konta won six encounters, and also has a 12-2 record in tie-breaks - the second best on the tour this season. Her achievements have not gone unnoticed and she received 40 votes, ahead of Monica Puig with five, Kiki Bertens with three and Laura Siegemund with one.
From the LTA on Jo's success :
British No.1 Johanna Konta has been announced as the WTA’s Most Improved Player of 2016, according to a poll of her peers as well as fans and international tennis media. Jo was shortlisted for the award alongside Laura Siegemund, Monica Puig and Kiki Bertens and was confirmed as the winner on Friday, 21st October 2016.
The 25-year-old who recently became the first Brit in 33 years to break in the WTA’s Top 10 has enjoyed a scintillating year which began with a run to the semi finals of the Australian Open last January. Ranked 47 in the world at the beginning of 2016, Konta has since gone on to capture her first WTA title, beating former World No.1 Venus Williams in the final of the Stanford Classic in California in July. In 10 matches against Top 10 players in 2016, Jo has won six encounters, and also has a 12-2 record in tie-breaks – the second best on the WTA tour this season.
Meanwhile, Jo narrowly missed out on qualifying for the WTA Finals in Singapore (October 23-30) after Svetlana Kuznetsova's win in the Kremlin Cup in Moscow on Saturday. Konta was beaten to the eighth and final qualifying spot in the tournament after Kuznetsova's win, but she is in Singapore with the other finalists and will compete if any player withdraws.
Even the BBC reported Jo's stellar rise to the 2016 greats :
British number one Johanna Konta has won the WTA's most improved player of the year award for 2016. Konta, 25, reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January before going on to win her first WTA Tour title at Stanford in June. Ranked world number 147 in June 2015, Konta climbed to a career-high position of ninth earlier this month and is currently in 10th place.
Germany's Angélique Kerber won the WTA player of the year award. The world number one won her first Grand Slam at the Australian Open, and went on to pick up a second at the US Open. She also won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics and lost in the Wimbledon final to Serena Williams.
Konta's record of seven victories over a top10 player this season is the second-most of any other player on tour. She became the first British woman to reach the top 10 of the world rankings since Jo Durie achieved the feat in 1984. Konta is currently leading the race for a place a the WTA Finals in Singapore, occupying the final qualification spot, but will be overtaken by Svetlana Kuznetsova if the Russian wins Saturday's Kremlin Cup final against Daria Gavrilova of Australia.
Analysis - BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller:
"At the start of the year, the question was not whether Konta could become a top 10 player, but whether she could consolidate her position in the top 50. Reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open was a fabulous achievement, but it has been her consistency throughout the year - and in many of the big tournaments - which has particularly impressed. She is a strong player, but by no means the most powerful: her success has stemmed from doing the basics to an exceptionally high level in highly pressurised situations. Her top 10 status is thoroughly deserved."
2016 WTA player award winners in full:
Player of the year: Angélique Kerber (Germany)
Doubles team of the year: Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic (France)
Most improved player of the year: Johanna Konta (GB)
Newcomer of the year: Naomi Osaka (Japan) Comeback player of the year: Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia)
Johanna Konta - GB
Konta makes history by winning her QF at the Australian Open on 27th January 2016 - Image courtesy of the Australian Open
Konta and Kerber congratulate each other at the net at the conclusion of their SF at the Australian Open on 28th January 2016. Konta lost to the eventual winner - no shame here! - Image courtesy of the Australian Open
Ever since the summer of 2015, starting on the grass courts of the United Kingdom, Johanna Konta has breathed fresh life into what has become a jaded and disappointing British season of tennis. Heather Watson has been left to carry the flag for GB since the injured and more flamboyant Laura Robson has not fulfilled her potential, mostly and unfortunately due to an injured wrist. Laura has attempted several comebacks, but her continued absence has surely impacted on Heather Watson who is an intelligent and compact player (in the mould of Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland). Johanna reached the semi-finals of the 2016 Australian Open equalling and beating the achievement of the last British female player, Jo Durie. Jo Durie has stated that she is thrilled her personal best in this tournament has been beaten after all these years! Jo appeared in the Australian Open QF in 1984.
From the Eurosport website :
Exclusive: GB's last Grand Slam quarter-finalist Jo Durie on Johanna Konta's run to the last eight
Johanna Konta has become the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final since 1984 - and the person she has emulated, Jo Durie, says it has made her as excited as she can remember about British tennis.
The British number one produced a stunning 4-6 6-4 8-6 win over Ekaterina Makarova on Margaret Court Arena to reach the last eight.
Durie - now a Eurosport commentator - reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 1984 and has been marvelling at Konta's progress at Melbourne Park.
Is this the most excited you have been following British female players over the last 20 years?
“Yes it is, because although Laura Robson has had some big wins in the Grand Slams, Jo is doing it consistently and she is really believable out there on court," Durie told Eurosport. “Obviously seeing Robson when she was winning matches and Heather Watson [was exciting], but this is just a bit above that. To get to the quarter-finals of a Slam, which hasn’t been done for so long, is something quite special. She is soon to be in the world’s top 30 and seeded in the Slams, and I can now see her getting wins week-after-week, which is a very nice thing to see."
Can she win a Grand Slam?
“To win a Grand Slam, you never know: it takes a lot. I won’t say that she could never do it, but it would be an extreme thing to accomplish. I’m sure it would be one of her goals, but I think at the moment she is just working through her goals and trying to get further into Grand Slams. Let’s not put any pressure on her and let her take it one Grand Slam at a time."
How has she mastered the mental side of her game?
“I think mentally she has really turned herself around. She really believes in herself and you can see that on court. Her composure on court in situations when she is under pressure, she seems able to cope with it all. She has become so consistent over the last year that she really doesn’t miss stuff – she’s very, very solid and keeps a good pace on the ball too."
What next for her?
“Her next match will be very difficult and Zhang Shuai is herself on a road to discovery. Anybody who gets to the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam is clearly playing very well, so you cannot underestimate her. Jo is very clear-headed and she trusts herself. When you work so hard you begin to trust yourself under pressure, and that really does help mentally. She has got to come down from this win and then get ready for the quarter-finals where of course she has got a chance. “But I don’t think she has got to look too far ahead because she has been so composed so far."
Jelena Jankovic - Serbia
Stylish on and off court - image courtesy & © of Getty Images - Jelena Jankovic is a worried woman.
‘I can’t go in front of the TV cameras looking like this, with my hair and no make-up,’ she says as she gets ready to do a post-match interview in Paris. ‘We women, we worry about these things. We have to blow dry our hair and look our best.’
This picture and her comments sum up JJ for me - stylish, poised, slightly quizzical, quirky and when I first saw her play, a joy on court. Over the years she's become a bit cranky on the court and on some occasions downright unwatchable when she starts berating everybody on the court except herself. Her redeeming quality is that she has never screeched her way through a match like other female players none of whom, by the way, will appear on the page as my favourites. They may, of necessity, be featured in the Grand Slam column but only because they've had the good fortune to win against opponents who don't make spectacles of themselves on court in a similar manner.
JJ posing in action shot for Fila 2016 US Open fashions - image courtesy of Fila and Tennis Identity
Back to JJ who unforgettably became the darling of the Centre Court at Wimbledon after Jamie Murray (not yet known for being a No. 1 Doubles Champion) plucked up the courage to ask her to partner him in the Mixed Doubles in 2007. I'm fairly certain that they didn't expect to win, or even have fun on court but they flirted their way and played fabulous tennis all the way to the Final which they won watched by thousands. It was a fun match, everyone enjoyed themselves and Jamie covered himself with glory by being the first Murray brother to win a Grand Slam on home turf even! Here are a few momentous pictorial moments from that victory!
The cherished moment of success, joy shining brightly from JJ as she holds the Mixed Doubles trophy aloft - image courtesy & © of the Press Association
So was there a romance? More on Jamie's side than JJs we can bet - image courtesy & © of the Evening Standard
The Standard continues to speculate - "Jamie Murray and Jelena Jankovic arrived at the Wimbledon Champions' Dinner looking just as much the winning couple as they did on the Centre Court a few hours earlier. But as they celebrated their mixed doubles victory, there were still a few more questions left unanswered... such as: Are they? Have they? Will they? And will little brother Andy be best man?
Sharing the triumph with Wimbledon's Men's Singles Champion Roger Federer at the Championship Ball - image courtesy & © of Getty Images
Ever since Murray and Jankovic first stepped on to the court together in the first week of the tournament, tennis fans have been indulging in feverish speculation about the exact nature of their relationship. They have flirted, giggled, held hands and displayed such extraordinary on-court chemistry that some cheekier spectators have been moved to shout out, "Come on you lovebirds." In the great tradition of these things, Murray and Jankovic have insisted their relationship is entirely professional - a stance which was somewhat marred by Jankovic's promise that she would kiss him all over if they won."
Following their triumph JJ resisted all further attempts for the partnership to flourish explaining that she wanted to concentrate on her singles career as the Serbs were now producing quality tennis players in Ana Ivanovich and Novak Djokovic - in fact this triumvirate became unofficial ambassadors for Serbia in tennis and elsewhere.
Representing Serbia in the Federation Cup JJ and Ivanovic took on the roles of playing singles and doubles and celebrating their win with coach Dejan Vranes against the Russians - image courtesy & © of Gerry Images
Suddenly, after watching the Girls Wimbledon Final in 2005 at the Midland Hotel, I knew a star had been born. I eschewed watching the matches on the main court because this was to have been the 5th time for me to see the emerging Agnieszka Radwańska over two days. She had had to play three doubles and two singles matches on Friday and Saturday to get to the finals of both girls tournaments. Other former and soon to become junior grand slam title holders were Caroline Wozniaki (Danish but from a Polish background), Aga's younger sister Urszula, Angélique Kerber (German but resident in Poland with her Polish grandparents) being the exception. The girls have all remained friends on the circuit frequently holidaying together - nice not to have the bitching so often associated in a febrile female dominated environment.
The Polish ensemble featuring the Federation Cup Team and Poles representing other countries - from l to r Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark), Marta Domachowska, Urszula Radwańska, Agnieszka Radwańska, Klaudia Jans-Ignacik, Alicja Rosolski and Angélique Kerber (Germany) - before the U.S. Tennis Open at the Polish Consulate in NY. Photo: Consulate of the Republic of Poland in New York via poland.us
An all together more relaxed image of four friends (and a mascot) on holiday together l to r - Urszula and Agnieszka Radwańskie, Angélique Kerber and Caroline Wozniaki.
Evonne Goolagong Cawley - Australia
I loved Evonne from the moment I saw her glide around on court - was she a tennis player, a ballet dancer or an ice skater? She was sweet, she smiled a lot, she wore lovely dresses, she was supremely feminine and she was new! Margaret Court and Billie Jean King had dominated and were legends and beside the new kid on the block, they were giants - but we know what happens to giants, don't we? They get toppled! I don't dispute Court and King were greats in the game, movers and shakers, record-breakers and suffragettes in their own right - but it was the charisma or Evonne Goolagong that enchanted me, her grace, her self-effacement and the excitement that this Australian national Aborigine brought to the game. I have her biography waiting to be read, I think it will be next after I finish my current thriller!
Lovely to see Evonne so happy and healthy in a recent appearance at the Australian Open - "Evonne Goolagong Cawley waves to the crowd during the Celebration of Inspirational Women as part of women's semifinal day during day eleven of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 26, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Jan. 25, 2017 - Source: Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images AsiaPac)" via Zimbio
Is this the ultimate accolade a bust of oneself at the Australian Open dedicated in 1994 - "She remains an iconic figure at the Australian Open each year where a bronze statue of her was unveiled in 1994" - source CNN
The CNN article entitled 'Sunshine super girl' Goolagong Cawley defied prejudice to become a star' is an excellent read - here are some abridged salient comments :
When Evonne Goolagong Cawley first picked up an apple crate board to hit a ball against any flat surface she could find, Wimbledon was always the dream. The tennis-obsessed youngster would play for hours on end against a wall or a water tank, at the time thinking the tournament was merely the stuff of fairy tales. "I read this princess magazine story," recalls the 63-year-old seven-time Grand Slam singles winner in an interview with CNN Open Court at the Australian Open."One story was about this girl who trained and was taken to this place called Wimbledon where she won on this magical court. "I didn't know it was for real but she said 'yes, this place exists in England'." From that moment henceforth, the wall or water tank was the net at the All England Club, the concrete under her feet the hallowed grass turf graced by so many past champions.
The dream came true twice for Evonne Goolagong in 1971 (lower picture presentation) and again as Mrs Cawley in 1980 (upper picture)
Goolagong Cawley's fairy tale came true. Nicknamed the 'Sunshine super girl' early in her career, Goolagong Cawley achieved exactly that feat in 1971, winning the first of Grand Slam titles. She is 12th on the list of all-time singles grand slam winners level with Venus Williams and ended her career with 19 single titles in all. As well as two Wimbledon titles, Goolagong Cawley also won the Australian Open four times, the French Open, three Fed Cup titles and reached world No.1 in 1976. If the fairy tale came true, there were also many times when the clock struck midnight, with her story marked by episodes were -- as with so many Aborigines -- she was often treated as a second-class citizen.
There was a regular fear of being taken away from her parents. Many Australians thought the best practice was for Aboriginal children to be removed from their families to be given a life away from poverty and an education in white Australian society."Whenever a car would come down the road, my mum would tell us to hide 'or else the welfare man would take you away,'" she recalls.
Even as an adult she was acutely aware of how Aborigines could be excluded from everyday life -- even after winning Wimbledon."Before I started travelling overseas and I was with a friend and in those days I loved music and I loved disco dancing so she took me out but I wasn't allowed in."That happened again in Brisbane and I was with two Aboriginal friends and this was just after I won Wimbledon. I said 'don't worry we'll go somewhere else'. I think it hurt my friends more than me." Sydney was to provide no respite from the racism Goolagong Cawley had to face. She especially remembers an incident while playing with Edwards' daughter against two older ladies. "One of the older ladies didn't like the idea of two youngsters beating up on them. We won pretty easily. When it was time to shake hands."And she said; 'This is the first time I've had the pleasure of playing a Nigger' and I've never heard that before and I started to get really upset." As her mentor Edwards did his best to shield her from such prejudice."He taught me not to believe in what you read, believe in yourself so I never read anything. I realize now he was blocking me from a lot of things.
"I always just thought of myself as a tennis player. I was protected from a lot of publicity and politics of life." But her tennis success helped Goolagong Cawley break down barriers, becoming the first non-white to play in apartheid South Africa in a tournament in 1972. Even today, she is helping indigenous people in Australia with the foundation she has set up with her husband, the former British tennis player Roger Cawley. Her motto for it -- as it was during her playing days -- is "dream, believe, learn, achieve." By the time she arrived as a player at her dream location of Wimbledon, the then 18-year-old, also known as 'La Belle Evonne,' was already well known to the British press.
She was put on the show courts, unheard of back then for an unheralded young player."I didn't realize they were writing about me before I got there," she recalls. "They didn't normally put a young person first time at Wimbledon on centre court but they did with me."It really scared the hell out of me and I wanted to get off the court as quickly as possible and I did." On her return the following year in 1971, she beat the great Margaret Court and fellow Australian in the final, although graciously insists that was only because her opponent was pregnant and not moving to the best of her ability. However, Goolagong Cawley repeated the feat on the same hallowed turf in 1980 with a three-year-old daughter in tow. In so doing, she was the first mother to be crowned Wimbledon champion since before the outset of World War I. 'Super girl' had become 'super mum. 'But for all the monikers, titles and accolades, "having fun" was the key motivation.
What a quintet? Ted Tingling probably won more Wimbledon titles than any other singles player, in the fashion stakes of course - l to r Virginia Wade (GB), Evonne Goolagong-Cawley (Australia), Ted Tingling* (GB), Rosie Casals (US) and Billie Jean King (US) - image courtesy of alchetron.com
*Cuthbert Collingwood "Ted" Tinling (23 June 1910 – 23 May 1990), sometimes known as Teddy Tinling, was an English tennis player, fashion designer, spy and author. He was a firm fixture on the professional tennis tour for over sixty years. Source alchetron.com
And our thanks to Getty Images for these fabulous shots of Evonne Cawley at Wimbledon showing her athleticism and balletic grace.
Australian Open Twitter Graphics
From Australia's Social & Cultural History from the 1950s - 1970s
Sporting Achievements and Sports People
Evonne Goolagong was named Australian Number One Female Tennis Player after she won Seven Grand Slam singles titles, and reaching a goal of eighteen Grand Slam singles finals in her career. Goolagong played in seventeen Grand Slam singles Finals during the 1970s. This was a period record for any tennis player, man or woman. With reaching the final of almost every Grand Slam she entered between 1973 and 1978, Evonne Goolagong was definitely worth of being ranked Number One in the world for two weeks in 1976. Goolagong was the Mixed Doubles Champion in France in 1972. Evonne Goolagong Cawley was the Doubles Champion in Wimbledon in 1974. In 1978, Goolagong joined with Peggy Michel to win the Ladies’ Doubles Title. Goolagong made seven consecutive finals at the Australian Open, winning four titles in a row, both records for
Guy Forget - France
Roland Garros Tournament Director - 2016
Guy Forget - newly appointed as Tournament Director at Roland Garros - image © RG
Guy Forget has been appointed as Roland Garros Tournament Director. Having successfully directed the BNP Paribas Masters tournament since 2012, he will bring his on-the-job experience and expertise to this new position. The former captain of the French Davis Cup team (from 1999 to 2012) is not venturing into unknown territory, as he has been a member of the steering committee for the Roland Garros tournament since 2011, responsible for player relations.
Sue Barker - GB
French Open Champion - 1976 | OBE - 2016
Introduced in 1979 to replace the existing trophy as won by Sue Barker in 1976 - image courtesy of tennis-histoire.com
Sue Barker won the French Open in 1976, beating Russian Renata Tomanova in three sets, and is the last Brit to win the women's singles in Paris - image features on Sky Sports, ESPN and is the © of Getty images
From ESPN : Nowadays she is better known as the face of A Question of Sport, but in 1976 Sue Barker was the darling of British tennis after winning the French Open.
With the world No. 1 and two-time defending champion player, Chris Evert not in the draw, the 20-year-old Sue Barker, who had only made her debut at Roland Garros the year previously, was on the verge of her first Grand Slam title. Unlike the majority of British players, Barker was at home on the clay. And as the top seed, Barker was flying high after winning the German Open in Hamburg the fortnight previously.
However, Barker's route to victory was made easier by the absence of a host of big names, including Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and Evonne Goolagong-Cawley. The European clay-court season had been in decline since the introduction of the more lucrative World Team Tennis, championed by King. Even Barker's fellow Brit, the New-York-based Virginia Wade had signed up to play Team Tennis in the US. Barker herself signed up for the event the following year, but she is adamant that the absence of the defending champion and other high-profile names did not take away from the triumph of winning her first, and only, Grand Slam title.
"You can only beat who is there and at the end there was the French Open title waiting to be won," she said. "I had beaten all the top players during that time anyway, so it does not matter that I didn't do it at that tournament. I'm still incredibly proud of what I achieved."
Barker cruised through her opening two matches against Australia's Nerida Gregory and Carmen Perea, before meeting the future wife of Bjorn Borg, Mariana Simeonescu, in the third round. After taking the first set, the Romanian battled her way back into the match before Barker wrapped up a 7-5 2-6 6-1 victory. And she was to have to step it up another gear against her quarter-final opponent. After going a set down against the Czechoslovakian Regina Marsikova, Barker had to dig deep to level the scores and take the match to a decider. It was a gruelling final set, and Barker eventually triumphed 8-6.
"That was the point at which I really started to think about winning the whole thing," Barker said.
Next up was another Romanian, Virginia Ruzici, and after a 6-3 1-6 6-2 victory, Barker reached the final, and only one match stood in the way of claiming her maiden Grand Slam title. Her opponent was the unseeded Renata Tomanova, who had reached the Australian Open final in January, losing to Evonne Goolagong-Cawley.
On the morning of the final, Barker was overcome by terrible nerves, and had no appetite. " I went down to breakfast and I couldn't eat, so I went to practise and I just couldn't get a ball in court," she said. "I suppose it must be true that if you have a bad practice, you'll probably have a good match!" However, as the players made their way out onto Court Centrale, Barker had the edge, having beaten Tomanova two weeks earlier in the final in Hamburg. The nerves seemed to have disappeared as Barker confidently took the opening set 6-2. But then disaster struck as she failed to win a single game in the second set. To make matters worse, the players were forced to take a break at the end of the first set, and with no coach, Barker was forced to dwell on the events of the second set. Fortunately, a chance encounter with Tony Mottram, coach to another British player Michelle Tyler, helped settle her nerves, and she was able to recapture the form she showed in the opening set, and took the match 6-2 0-6 6-2.
But there were no wild celebrations for Barker, who never reached another Grand Slam final.
"Had I known that I would never win another one, I probably would have gone out and painted Paris red," Barker said. "As it was, I did my press conference, had some champagne with some of the British journalists and then flew home to see my Mum and Dad - not very glamorous!"
Heather Watson - GB
Wimbledon Mixed Doubles Champion - 2016
Such a joyful picture - Heather Watson and partner Finn Henri Kontinen enjoy their mixed doubles success at Wimbledon 2016 - image © Getty
A perfect match has delivered the perfect result for Henri Kontinen and Heather Watson, who are the 2016 Wimbledon mixed doubles champions. Combining for the first time at The Championships, the British-Finnish duo defeated Colombian Robert Farah and Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany 7-6(5), 6-4 for their first Grand Slam title.
“I can’t really describe how happy I am right now. I can’t stop smiling,” said Watson, who became the first British woman to win a Wimbledon title since Jo Durie combined with Jeremy Bates to win in 1987. “We had so much fun from the first point to the last. “Some people say, like, it's fun, but don't actually really have fun. I think we did. We didn't think about winning. We just wanted to go out there and just enjoy our time and just try and play well and good.
“Now we're Grand Slam champions, Wimbledon champions.”
(Good to see Heather appreciating that she is a Grand Slam Champion and I do hope the euphoria was temporary, because much as I like her, she was beginning to behave like a 'ladette' at this years championships)
Heather Watson defeats Kirsten Flipkens to win third WTA singles title
A great start to 2016 for Heather winning her 3rd ever WTA Title in Abierto Monterrey Afirme - Heather Watson said after beating Kirsten Flipkens: ‘It’s the first time my mum’s seen me win a title and it’s Mother’s Day back in England, so Happy Mother’s Day, Mum.’ Photograph: Miguel Sierra/EPA via The Guardian
Great Britain’s Heather Watson won her third WTA Tour singles title by beating Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the Abierto Monterrey Afirme final. Watson lost the opening set, concluded by Flipkens’ first ace, but broke twice in the second to force a decider.
There, the two players traded service breaks before Watson crucially earned another to lead 5-3, giving her the chance to serve out the match. She trailed 15-40 but battled back to force match point, which she took with an unreturnable body serve.
Watson, who remains without a coach following her temporary link with Judy Murray, brought on her mother, Michelle, as on-court coach when 5-2 down in the first set. And Watson admitted having her mother around made it an extra special day. In the post-match presentation, the British No2 said: “It’s the first time my mum’s seen me win a title and it’s Mother’s Day back in England, so Happy Mother’s Day mum!”
Flavia Pennetta - Italy
The newly crowned U.S. Open Champion of 2015 is hanging up her boots (or should that be racket)? What a joy it was to watch Flavia play - she always looked elegant, commentators always praised her style on court - play and dress, the male commentators positively obsessed about it! I loved watching Flavia for her court craft so different to her spicy private and love life if all that you read is true. I shall miss Flavia and I'm pleased she went out on a high, and what a high, the oldest maiden Grand Slam winner (to date so far) and these pictures show her genuine delight. What a happy winner, no pretensions, nothing jaded and an acknowledgement to the VIP box at the conclusion of the match, in which sat, no less an celebrity as the Prime Minister of Italy! Flavia and her compatriot and runner up Roberta da Vinci were making history!
Arthur Ashe - USA
Arthur Ashe of the USA holds up the championship trophy for men’s singles of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships after defeating Jimmy Connors 6-1, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 July 5, 1975 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, England. (Photo by Focus On Sport/Getty)
Always a great fan of Arthur Ashe I wrote this piece for the Hucknall Dispatch - I remember the day in 1975 as clearly as if it was yesterday!
Miroslav Mecir - Czechoslovakia
It was great to see Miroslav featured in the 2011 US Open - but, I can't find out why he was there - an educated guess would be that he was appearing on the Seniors Tour - but there are no schedules of play for this event - strange.
Samantha Stosur - Australia
What a fabulous player (it helps that she wore purple to win her first grand slam) and what a modest winner. Solid as a rock, Samantha has overcome debilitating illness to climb to the elite of the tennis world and her win on that most poignant of dates in the United States calendar, 9th September, known to the world as 9/11, is well deserved! Bravo Sam!
Patty Schneider - Switzerland
Patty retired in 2011 after a long and distinguished career spanning 17 years, serving both women's tennis and her country by representing them in the Federation Cup in the wake of Martina Hingis. Patty was a 'quirky' leftie on court and played some of the most sublime tennis capable of beating anyone on her day. She was always a pleasure to watch.
Seen here being honoured by her former colleagues during her on-court retirement ceremony in iStanbul at the year end championships - from left to right Ipek Senoglu, Kveta Peschke, Katarina Srebotnik, Samantha Stosur, Mary Pierce, Iva Majoli, Victoria Azarenka and WTA CEO Stacey Allaster.
Marion Bartoli - France
On the 15th of August 2013, the reigning Wimbledon Champion announced her shock retirement from tennis - from the Wimbledon page
by Alexandra Willis -Thursday 15 August 2013
In a small press room in Cincinnati, Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli announced her retirement from tennis, saying that she "couldn't permit herself to do things halfway."
With fellow players rushing to find television screens to watch the announcement, the 28-year-old, who who triumphed in the Ladies' singles final on Centre Court just 40 days ago, revealed that the pain of competing had become too much, and that she would rather leave the sport having reached the pinnacle of her career.
“I’ve been on the tour for so long, and I really push through and leave it all during that Wimbledon," Bartoli said, speaking after a first-round loss to Simona Halep in Cincinnati. "I really felt I gave all the energy I have left inside my body. I made my dream a reality and it will stay forever with me, but now my body just can’t cope with everything.”
“It becomes an ordeal when I can’t even really walk because I have so much pain in my Achilles tendon, or I have so much pain my shoulder or my rib or in my lower back that I can’t even serve after one set. It all means that at a certain point, the body has its limits and I went past them. I was obliged to do so many times to make it, and I achieved the most beautiful goal of my life, my career. And now it’s time to move on to other things.”
Bartoli has never been afraid to buck the proverbial trend, on the court and off, and after winning Wimbledon she maintained that she would "always remain the same, very humble, very low-key and easy-going, down to earth person." It was a sentiment she touched on again in Cincinnati.
"I think if people ask, 'How is Marion Bartoli?' They will always respond, 'She's a nice person.' That's what I'm most proud of," she said. It's time for me to retire and to call it a career. I will have won Wimbledon this year in 2013, and I will stop with that. It was magnificent.”
The ebullient Frenchwoman revealed she had called her father in the middle of the night to tell him of her decision, revealing that winning Wimbledon was the frosting on the cake of her career for him too. “He told me, ‘Marion, you can lose every single match you’re going to play. I don’t even care anymore. What I care for you is you get married, you find a nice husband, and that’s it,'" Bartoli revealed.
As a result, Bartoli will not be at the All England Club to defend her Wimbledon title next June, echoing the actions of Pete Sampras, who shelved his racket after winning the US Open in 2002. "Everyone will remember my Wimbledon title. No one will remember the last match I played here," she said.
As always, she couldn't have put it better.
Chris Evert - USA
40th anniversary of the introduction of the WTA rankings - Chris Evert presided over and participated in the WTA 2015 Singapore Year End Finals won by Agnieszka Radwanska
Still to come
This page is still under construction and will be added to on a regular basis.
Jaime Fillol - Chile
Robin Soderling - Sweden
Chanda Rubin - USA
Novak Djokovic - Serbia
Wojtek Fibak - Poland
Bjorn Borg - Sweden
John Lloyd - GB
Tim Henman - GB
Mary Jo Fernandez - USA
Jan Kodes - Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic)
(The list is by no means exhaustive and I will be adding to it)
I have an interest in Heather Watsons and Johanna Konta's progress which at the time of writing seems more robust than that of Laura Robson. Omissions of other British players (unless they come up in future revisions) is quite deliberate.
Greatest French Open Final - 1999
Hingis in despair during that epic match in which she tried everything to put Graf off her stride!
Joyously triumphant - Steffi Graf with the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen - both images © of Getty
The French Open Simple Dames (don't you just love that!) 1999 Graf v Hingis when Hingis totally lost it on court and then refused to come back on for the presentation of the trophy aha ha ha ha!
Page updated : 5th April 2017