Wimbledon has a strange affect on Britain when it is on, I am not sure if it is the same now as it was when I was younger, mainly because there is more tennis shown on TV these days. But I always remember as a child loving Wimbledon, even though I had at the time, no interest in tennis any other time of year. Suddenly for three or four weeks every park was full of kids wanting to play tennis, every year this happened, but then being Britain it died away as quickly as it arrived.
My first memory of the great Grand Slam would go back to Borg and Connors, not sure exactly when it was, but they are the first two players I remember. Then of course McEnroe, I remember the great final between Borg and McEnroe, but weirdly the match I remember more so, was the semi final between Borg and Connors the year later, when Borg came back from two sets down to beat the American. It stuck in my mind because it made me worry at the time that Borg would lose to Mac in the final, which he did. I was not keen in McEnroe, his shouting and tantrums just spoilt the tennis, in my mind.
There was also a match Connors played in 87, that I always remember, he was two sets down, being hammered, just looking up in Wikipedia it says he lost the first two sets to a guy called Mikael Pernfors, 6-1, 6-1, and was down 4-1 in the third. Somehow he managed to crawl back and win the third set, and then he was down in the fourth, but pulled that back and eventually won the match. I always enjoyed watching Connors play, he was such a fighter never gave up.
Apart from now, the early 80’s was the best time to watch tennis, loads of great players, and Wimbledon always had their upset package, like Chris Lewis in 83, and the crowd pleasers, Henri Leconte, springs to mind. He was always great to watch.
I remember the emergence of Becker, when he won as a 17 year old, and then of course Edberg. I remember the great final between Ivanisevic and Agassi, and then Wimbledon started to get boring, as Sampras won every year with big serve tennis.
We had Tim Henman, doing his best, getting close, but always running into a Sampras, and the one year he didn’t run into him he met an inspired Ivanisevic. Sometimes you could think that Britain was cursed to have the greatest tennis championships, but never have a Briton good enough to win it. Let’s hope that changes with Andy Murray.