Penny Perry: Dad would have been ecstatic with Andy Murray's success at Wimbledon...

...but, Fred Perry's daughter tells Paul Newman, her father would also have had a tinge of regret at losing the honour of being Britain's last Wimbledon men's champion

In a house in Florida on Sunday evening, amid all the celebrations as Andy Murray won Wimbledon, joy was mixed with a tinge of regret. For Penny Perry, Murray's triumph meant that after 77 years her father, Fred, was no longer the last British man to lift the singles trophy at the All England Club.

"I suppose I would be lying if I said I didn't feel a little strange, but I think that's just a human reaction." Penny said. "I'm thrilled to bits for Andy. I think it's absolutely fantastic and wonderful for Britain. How can one not be? I'm a phenomenal patriot. By the end of the final I was so drained. I was out of it."

For most of her life 54-year-old Penny has made an annual pilgrimage to the All England Club, where her father won the last of his three consecutive Wimbledon titles in 1936. However, a recent double hip replacement meant that she watched this year's Championships at the home near Boca Raton she shares with her husband, Drew Evert, the brother of Chris. Penny describes herself as "blood-British" and spent most of her childhood in Britain, but she has a US passport, her parents having become naturalised Americans after Perry turned professional.

Bobby, Penny's 94-year-old mother and Perry's fourth wife, also lives in Florida. "I don't think she will have watched the final," Penny said. "She's always said that she would be happy if she didn't see another tennis match again. She's lived with it for so long."

Even Penny's son, John Frederick (his grandfather was Frederick John), who lives in Wimbledon, was not watching. "He was climbing up a mountain in Turkey on Sunday," Penny said. "I got a text from him when he heard that Murray had won. He just said: 'Here we go.' We were prepared for it. The phone has been ringing non-stop ever since. Everyone wanted to know our reaction and what Fred would have thought.

"But then again it's been like that for two weeks every year for the last 77 years. We're so used to it. Every year after Fred won it he would get asked the same question: 'Where is the next British winner coming from?' He would just say: 'I don't know.'

"I've been having the same conversations for the last 35 years. We've been talking about this since Mark Cox and Roger Taylor were around, then Buster Mottram, then John Lloyd and even when Tim Henman and then Andy came along. I suppose what it does mean is that we might not get the phone calls for the next 77 years. It's strange that it took 50 years for some people to realise we even had a champion. It's taken them 50 seconds to realise we have one now."

The reference to her father's long wait for recognition is heartfelt. Even when Perry won his first Wimbledon title – which ended a 25-year run without a home-grown champion – he was treated as an outsider by the tennis establishment. A young man of modest means from Stockport who had not gone to public school and whose father was a Labour MP, he was regarded by many at the All England Club as an intruder.

The attitude was summed up when Perry lay in the bath shortly after he had beaten Australia's Jack Crawford to win the title for the first time. Perry heard the locker-room door open and recognised the voices of Wimbledon committee members. "Take this bottle of champagne," one of them said to Crawford. "We're only sorry that this was one day when the best man didn't win."

When he got out of his bath Perry saw his All England Club tie, which goes with the membership granted to champions, draped over a chair. The committee members had not even had the decency to present it to him personally. The hurt lived with Perry until his death in 1995, although bridges were rebuilt in his later life. He said the unveiling of his statue at Wimbledon in 1984 meant more to him than all the prize-money in the world.

Penny, who often refers to him as Fred because she saw the tennis player and her father as almost two separate people, recognises many parallels with Murray. "We always said that Fred had been born on the wrong side of the tracks," she said. "Now we've joked that the tracks have moved a bit further north. If Fred was unacceptable because he came from north of Watford, what does that make someone from north of Newcastle?"

Like Murray, Perry won his first Grand Slam title at the US Open and won his first Wimbledon the following year. Murray will no doubt be hoping that he, too, goes on to win the title three years in a row, which no player achieved after Perry until Bjorn Borg in the 1970s. Perry went on to win eight Grand Slam titles and is one of a select group to have won all four Grand Slam trophies.

Perry's uncompromising approach did not go down well with the traditionalists. He became supremely fit by training with Arsenal's footballers and was a ferocious competitor. "He had the same work ethic that I see in Murray," Penny said. "Fred only ever lost one or two five-set matches in his life. The first time he lost one he said: 'That's never going to happen again'.

"Fred always used to say that to reach the very top you had to have a bit of luck and you had to have that bit of spunk, that something extra. I knew exactly what Fred meant by that. I never saw it in Roger Taylor or in Tim Henman, but I certainly have seen it in Andy Murray."

Until Murray switched clothing companies he used to wear Fred Perry kit. When asked at Wimbledon last week what he thought Perry might have said to him if they had met, Murray replied with a smile: "Why aren't you wearing my clothes?" Penny approved. "Fred had an amazing sense of humour, great northern wit," she said. "It wouldn't surprise me if he had said exactly that."

Was Penny disappointed that Murray had not won the title wearing the kit of the sportswear company her father had founded? "Not really. Fred Perry Sportswear represented the dignified lawns of Wimbledon, the whole elite atmosphere of the place. I don't think that ever quite fitted with Andy Murray. When he was wearing Fred Perry gear, lots of people said to me: 'He looks like an unmade bed'."

Perry was handed a cheque for £10 for winning Wimbledon. Murray won £1.6m, and untold riches will follow through commercial deals. Would Perry have approved? "I'm not 100 per cent sure of that," Penny said. "He was a down-to-earth man. He was steak-and-kidney without the kidney. He was not from an affluent background. It came to him. He played tennis because he loved the sport, not because it gave him great wealth."

And what would Perry have thought about Murray replacing him as the last British man to win Wimbledon? "I think his feelings would have been bittersweet," Penny said. "He would have been absolutely ecstatic because of the whole British, patriotic thing. He would have thought, like a typical northerner: 'About bloody time too.' He had been asked for 50 or 60 years: 'When, when, when?' He would just say: 'How on earth do I know?'

"But I don't think anybody would be human if they didn't have a bit of regret when they thought: 'It's not me now.' I was with Fred when Borg won his third Wimbledon title in a row. He went on to the court to congratulate Borg personally. That was a big deal at the time.

"Fred wasn't just the last British player to win Wimbledon. He was the last player from anywhere [since the First World War] who had won it three times in a row. Then Pete Sampras did it, then Roger Federer, but we're still only talking about four people who have done it. Let's see if Andy can join them."

Perry v Murray: Tale of the tape

Fred Perry/Andy Murray

Stockport Born Glasgow

Right-handed Style Right-handed

6ft Height 6ft 3in

1 (1934) Highest world ranking 2

Grand Slam victories

(1934, 35, 36) Wimbledon (2013)

(1934) Australian Open None

(1935) French Open None

(1933, 34, 36) US Open (2012)

Prize-money $29,796,428

Perry won £10 for clinching the men's singles title at Wimbledon in 1936, compared to Murray's £1.6m

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare and exciting opportunity for a Practice...

Ashdown Group: HR Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A mainstream Secondary school in C...

Guru Careers: HR Administrator / Training Coordinator

COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: An HR Administrator / Training Coordinator is requi...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'