1936: the last Englishman to win Wimbledon

Perry's Wimbledon hat-trick was a great achievement though it was `a tr avesty of what might have been a great match'. This is Peter Wilson's contemporary Daily Mirror report
Click to follow
The Independent Online
"I have been asked to announce that Baron von Cramm pulled a muscle in his thigh in his first game, and he much regrets that he was not able to play better."

That was the announcement made by the umpire to a silent crowd of 15,000 people at the end of the match in which Fred Perry, for the third year in succession, won the men's singles at Wimbledon yesterday 6-1, 6-1, 6-0.

But although he won and also set up a record for the new Wimbledon Perry looked as unhappy as everyone else when he walked of the Centre Court for never has there been such a hollow victory.

The match had opened brilliantly and Perry was serving and both men, paler than usual with the strain of the final, were nevertheless producing glorious lawn-tennis.

Several times deuce was called before Perry who had twice been beaten with net cord passing shots, won the game - also with a net cord.

The tightly-wedged crowd had applauded every rally wildly. They would have been even more enthusiastic had they known that it was about the only real game they were going to see.

Curiously enough, there was nothing noticeably wrong with von Cramm in the second game, which he won with a terrific backhand.

As yet the crowd had no inkling of any disaster - although the damage was already done. Both men had been hitting the ball very hard off the ground with von Cramm slightly the more powerful, so that Perry had to go to the net whether he wanted to or not.

But in the fourth game von Cramm suddenly went to pieces. He was footfaulted in this game and at first I thought that had upset his concentration. But soon it was obvious that the trouble was more serious.

The German's backhand strokes looked strangely tame but it was not until the end of the set that it became quite obvious that von Cramm had injured himself.

By the second set von Cramm had given up trying to return any ball for which he had to take more than one step and a great hush had fallen over the crowd who had ceased applauding even the most brilliant shots of Perry, who was playing some astonishing stuff. At the end of the fourth game, when he was leading 3-1 Perry came to the net and spoke to his opponent, who waved him on to continue the game.

What he said was inaudible, but the umpire, Mr L W J Newman, told me afterwards that Perry had asked von Cramm if he wanted a masseur, and the German had replied that it was no good and he must carry on.

Perry won eleven games in a row against his crippled opponent, whose face was as white as chalk on the court - doing quite the right thing by playing as well as he could so as to get this travesty of what might have been a great match over as quickly as possible.

I understand that von Cramm will travel with the German Davis Cup team to Zagreb where they will meet Yugoslavia in the final of the European Zone a week today.

Let us hope that the final of the women's singles today will not be afflicted by the bad luck which has dogged this year's championship.

It should be a great match, and steady as Mrs Sperling is she can never have met anyone more determined to win than try-again Helen Jacobs.

Great Britain is certain of winning at least one title today. For the first time since the war, there is an all-British final in the men's doubles.

Comments