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Saturday, June 27, 1998 Published at 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK


Great moments in love



There are four Grand Slam tournaments but there is only one Wimbledon.

It is a quintessential English occasion known for its overpriced strawberries, iced champagne, peoples' Sunday, and even the chance to see Sir Cliff Richard singin' in the rain.


Billie Jean King : 'Both of us wanted to win so badly'
But most important to Wimbledon's appeal is the 120 years of memorable tennis it has produced.

The 1960s brought showdowns between the American crusader of the women's tour Billie Jean King and Australian Margaret Court. They met five times at Wimbledon and twice in the final.


[ image: Billie Jean King holds of 20 Wimbledon titles]
Billie Jean King holds of 20 Wimbledon titles
Their 1970 Wimbledon final was one of the most memorable and longest matches for King and Court. Both players sustained injuries and wanted to win with fervency.

The outcome 14-12, 11-9 to Margaret Court in two and a half hours. But this did not deter King who went on to hold an all time record of 20 Wimbledon titles by 1979.


McEnroe :'It was a great honour to be part of this rivalry'
Often Wimbledon finals came down to a single point - as in the heated matches fought between Swedish Bjorn Bjorg and the temperamental John 'You can not be serious' McEnroe.


[ image: Bjorn Bjorg battles for the titles]
Bjorn Bjorg battles for the titles
Bjorg and McEnroe met 14 times between the years of 1978 - 1981. In the 1980 Wimbledon finals, the scores were level at seven victories each. The tension reached its peak as they battled it out in a tense 20-minute tie-break. Bjorg went on to win this final and gained the record for winning the men's singles title five times consecutively since 1880's.


Chris Evert Lloyd :'I was glad that we were in the same era'
One of the longest contested rivalries was between the all American Chris Evert Lloyd, whose preferred position was at the base line and Martina Navratilova the Czechslovakian who was most comfortable at the net.

The two women played each other a record 80 times and produced tennis of an exceptional quality, because they pushed each other to their limits. Navratilova won 43 times and Evert Lloyd 37 times.


[ image: Nine-time winner Navratilova's  farewell to Wimbledon]
Nine-time winner Navratilova's farewell to Wimbledon
When they met head to head in 1985 Wimbledon final, Navratilova had won the ladies singles titles for the previous three years. But Evert Lloyd had won the last three grand slams in France, US and Australia. Navratilova won this final and a further three more.

When Navratilova retired, she had won nine singles titles and the hearts of the British crowds. BBC Commentator Richard Evans to dub her the "greatest tennis player in the 80s".


Boris Becker : 'Who ever won on that day was the better player'
Not quite such a lengthy battle but one that was equally skilful were games between Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker.

They played against each other in three consecutive Wimbledon finals from 1988 - 1990. Their styles couldn't have been more different.


[ image: Cool and calculated: Stefan Edberg]
Cool and calculated: Stefan Edberg
Edberg rarely showed emotion. Every shot was cool and calculated. Becker was animated and the crowds often observed him ranting to himself in fits of frustration.

Becker attributes his success to the crowd: "The English crowd always made me feel at home and that is part of the reason why I did so well".

The good, the bad and the ugly


John McEnroe being totally serious
But perhaps most memorable are Wimbledon's bad boys. There was a spate of them at the beginning of the 1980s. They in turn dazzled, delighted and dumfounded tennis fans with their performances with the racket and their tongues.

Many commentators called for stiff measures to be taken against them for their behaviour but it was clear these were among the most talented players of their generation and the sttars the crowds turned up to see.


[ image: John McEnroe : 'You can not be serious !']
John McEnroe : 'You can not be serious !'
The most famous, of course, was John McEnroe. In 1981, he attacked umpire George Grime. "You're a disgrace to mankind," he cursed. He later swore that his remark was an assessment of his performance in the match. His remark tio another official "You cannot be serious" has become part of the language.


1975 Final Jimmy Connors and that gesture
Unlike McEnroe who fought constantly on the court, the crowds fuelled Jimmy Connors.


[ image: Jimmy Connors 'trying for Christsakes !']
Jimmy Connors 'trying for Christsakes !'
Spectators cheered him to eight Grand Slam singles titles - two at Wimbledon.

His most memorable on court banter was during his defeat against Arthur Ashe in the 1975 final when a punter quipped "Come on Jimbo," he cordially replied "I'm trying for Chrissakes!"

Rather than offend verbally, Pat Cash and Andre Agassi chose to offend by pushing the boundaries of fashion.


[ image: Andre Agassi pushed the boundaries of fashion]
Andre Agassi pushed the boundaries of fashion
In 1987 Pat Cash appeared with his unshaven good looks and glamorous rock appearance and won Wimbledon. Agassi, the first player to appear in cycling shorts in 1995, was also the first male to sport a pony tail.

Both changed the rules of Wimbledon's dress code from all-white to almost white.

The Big Guns

We are now in the Sampras and Hingis era. The men's game has recently been under attack, criticised for lacking lustre and being fought from the base line.


[ image: Hingis : Youngest Ladies Doubles Championship winner at 15 years, 283 days]
Hingis : Youngest Ladies Doubles Championship winner at 15 years, 283 days
Always acerbic, former champion John McEnroe even claimed that there are "16 year old girls on the tour with more personality than the men's game."

Hingis already holds a record and has become the youngest ever doubles champion at 15 years.

Whoever wins this year's Wimbledon final will continue to produce the tennis genius the tournament is renowned for and Wimbledon can still boast of exciting times ahead.



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In this section

Anyone for tennis?

Great moments in love

Return to Henmania?

Wimbledon's green and pleasant land

Ladies win less at Wimbledon

In Wimbledon v World Cup the score is Love All

Women's fashion hits the courts

Racket science and the hard sell

Net calls from Wimbledon