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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 December, 2003, 13:08 GMT
Q&A: Virginia Wade
As the 50th anniversary of BBC Sports Personality of the Year approaches, past winners share their memories.

Virginia Wade (tennis)
Sports Personality 1977

What are your memories of the night?

I remember it well - down to exactly what I was wearing.

Prince Michael presented the award which was a great thrill for me.

Virginia Wade
Virginia Wade features on Simply the Best, BBC 1,
1900-1930, Weds 10 Dec
I have pictures from the evening in my house - although unfortunately I haven't got the award on display at the moment because I'm in the middle of moving.

Who were you up against?

Geoffrey Boycott came second, and Barry Sheene was third.

How did you celebrate winning?

There was always a big party afterwards so I went to that.

Those parties were always fun - especially in the early days.

I think by the time I won the award, I was more of a serious professional so I probably didn't party to the same extent.

What made your Wimbledon win so special?

The great thing about it was that it came towards the end of my career so it made everything I had ever done worthwhile.

Perhaps if I had had the same success 10 years earlier, it wouldn't have felt so fulfilling.

I had come very close before so my memories of Wimbledon until 1977 were more of not succeeding.

Wade has a degree in maths from Sussex University
The fact that it happened when it did meant it was like the crowning glory to my career.

I did reasonably well in the next couple of years, reaching number two in the world in '78 and winning the Wightman Cup, but nothing really compared to winning Wimbledon.

Only three tennis players (Wade, Ann Jones and Greg Rusedski) have won Sports Personality of the Year, why do you think that is?

I think it's the age-old problem that the public tend to vote on things that are fresh in their memories - which I think is partly why Tim Henman has not won it yet.

If Tim wins Wimbledon, or any Grand Slam, I can't imagine anybody else would beat him.

Who do you consider the all-time Sports Personality?

That's a really difficult one. Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile was a huge milestone at the time and I always find it surprising that he didn't win the Sports Personality award.

I'm a huge fan of Paula Radcliffe - the things she achieved last year were incredible.

  • Virginia Wade was talking to Caroline Cheese

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