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Last Updated: Monday, 16 June, 2003, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Wimbledon goes international
Christine Truman and Angela Mortimer before the last all-British final in 1961
Christine Truman & Angela Mortimer before the last all-British final
Tennis returned to Wimbledon after the Second World War in 1946 and it was immediately apparent a new era had begun.

Post-war Wimbledon was a far more international event than it had been prior to the outbreak of war.

The 1930s British renaissance, with Fred Perry and Dorothy Round to the fore, gave the home crowd something to cheer and hinted at a resurgence in domestic dominance.

But come the resumption it was America and the Stars and Stripes that were flying high.

At least one American reached each of the first six post-war finals - men and women - with only one, the first men's final, not being won by an American.

Frenchman Yvan Petra took the plaudits instead and has a place in history as the last man to be crowned champion having played in trousers.

But if the American men enjoyed success at Wimbledon, for their female compatriots it was a case of total domination.

Billie Jean Moffitt (King) in action in the sixties
Billie Jean Moffitt (King) came on the scene in the sixties
The first 10 post-war women's finals were all-American affairs with the first 13 champions hailing from the 'other side of the pond'.

Louise Brough, Pauline Betz and Maureen Connolly vied for the title with 'Little Mo' winning three times, one coming in her 1953 Grand Slam, before her career was ended by a riding accident when she was 20.

The last in the list of American heorines was Althea Gibson who became Wimbledon's first black winner in 1957, before succesfully defending her title 12 months later.

The American hegemony was finally broken by Maria Bueno in 1959, the Brazilian winning back-to-back titles before Angela Mortimer and Christine Truman contested the first all-British final since 1914.

During the 1960s, Australia's Margaret Smith and American Billie Jean Moffit first came to prominence.

The pair met in the 1963 final, when Smith came out on top. One of the pair was involved in each final for the next decade, be it under their maiden or marital names.

Smith's victory made her the first Australian woman to win at Wimbledon and came in a rare year when a fellow Australian did not take the men's title.

Rod Laver in action in the sixties
Rod Laver led the Australian post-war charge with two singles titles
The 1950s and 1960s were a golden age for Australian men's tennis at Wimbledon with Lew Hoad, Ashley Cooper, Neale Fraser, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and John Newcombe all taking the title.

In addition, Ken Rosewall, Martin Mulligan, Fred Stolle and Tony Roche played finals without winning.

The most successful of the group, before the advent of the Open era, were the trio of Hoad, Laver and Emerson.

Each of them won back-to-back titles, with Laver adding another two when tennis turned professional.

In effect, it gave him four in a row as he was 'persona non grata' in SW19, having turned his back on the amateur game after winning in 1962 as part of his first Grand Slam.

Newcombe won the final amateur Wimbledon in 1967 - the first in colour on television - and added to his haul with titles in the seventies.





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