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Monday, 12 June, 2000, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
Brilliant and bruised Brits
Danny Sapsford
Danny Sapsford: fourth round defeat in 1999
When Danny Sapsford strode out for his fourth round match at Wimbledon last year against Pete Sampras it was almost like the bad old days for British fans.

With all due respect to Sapsford, he did well to win the 12 games he did in his straight sets defeat.

But before the days of Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski regularly reaching the final stages at Wimbledon, the sort of run Sapsford had enjoyed was about as good as it ever got for British fans.

When Jeremy Bates reached the quarter-finals in 1992 it was such a rare feat it made the front pages of the newspapers.

It was not always that way. The tournament started in 1877 and British players won both men's and women's singles event for the first 28 years.


Sue Barker
Sue Barker: semi-finalist in 1977

But few would have believed when Fred Perry picked up his third title in 1936 that he would be the last British men's singles winner of the century.

The frustrations have come and gone. Roger Taylor was a genuine world class player, reaching three semi-finals and beating 17-year-old Bjorn Borg in 1973.

Coxless pair

When he retired, British fans got behind the likes of Buster Mottram and Mark Cox. But these were hard times.

Cox reached the fourth round twice, in 1979 losing to Jimmy Connors. Fifteenth seed Mottram made the headlines when he reached the last 16 in 1982.

But if British men's tennis is in the ascendancy today, the women are as low as they have been for years.

Ginny's gem

Three British women have won the title since the Second World War - Angela Mortimer in 1961, Anne Jones in 1960 and Virginia Wade in 1977.

The BBC's own Sue Barker reached the semi-final in 1977, but since then there has been precious little to cheer.

Of the current crop of players, Karen Cross made her name with a third round appearance in 1997 and Sam Smith reached the fourth round, including a win over former champion Conchita Martinez, in 1998.

The most recent British champions have come in doubles. In 1983 John Lloyd became the first British man since Perry in 1936 to win a Wimbledon title when he picked up the mixed doubles with Australian Wendy Turnbull.

Four years later Bates and Jo Durie were the first all-British team to triumph in 50 years.

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See also:

11 Jun 00 | Sportstalk
Has Wimbledon lost its lustre?
11 Jun 00 | Wimbledon2000
Teenage sensations
11 Jun 00 | Mens Seeds
Tim Henman
11 Jun 00 | Sportstalk
Has Henman got what it takes?
11 Jun 00 | The Brits
Profile: Greg Rusedski
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