the legend

joyful rogger fedder

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Andy's inspiration has to be Wade

ATP Masters Series - Rome: Day Three

Andy Murray might want to take a long hard look at Virginia Wade. The last Briton to lift a singles trophy at Wimbledon.

Sporting timing just does not get better than when Wade won the ladies' championship and hoisted the Venus Rosewater Dish to the skies of SW19 back in 1977.

It was Wimbledon's centenary and the Queen was on Centre Court in her Silver Jubilee year to present the trophy and hear the crowd sing to Wade: "For she's a jolly good fellow."

Wade later recalled: "Everybody said to me afterwards, 'Have you come down from cloud nine?' and I said 'No I haven't'.

"I've never experienced anything like that in England other than football's 1966 World Cup. The place went absolutely crazy. It was a cauldron of excitement and celebration.

"It was humbling in a way. You immersed yourself in it and then you realised the reason for it was because you'd won."

Wade triumphed at the 16th attempt, at the tail-end of a career in which she had won the US Open in 1968, the Australian Open in 1972 and after two losing Wimbledon semi-finals in 1974 and 1976.

At 31, and with new stars such as Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova taking over, Wade thought her chance of the big one had gone.

In many ways she had been spurred on that year by Britain's golden girl Sue Barker, herself a grand slam champion having won the French Open on the clay of Roland Garros a year earlier.

Barker's big forehand was in superb form and Wimbledon looked as if it might be treated to an all-British ladies' final. How times have changed.

As it was, Barker saved her worst performance for her semi-final against big Dutch girl Bette Stove, who herself had beaten Navratilova in the quarters.

And so the final came down to Wade v Stove.

It is difficult these days to think of the svelte, genial, serene Wade as a fiery, tormented character who was not averse to the odd tantrum on court.

But that was Wade in her younger days when regularly she allowed her temperament to get in the way of her talent.

Not that it reared its head in the final when she began slowly, the expectation weighing heavily upon her shoulders as Stove took the first set 6-4.

Happily, desire and superior talent kicked in and Wade went on to win the next two sets 6-3 6-1, and now she believes, "I played my best tennis of my career in that match."

It is 32 years since Wade, in her famous pink cardie, sent British sporting hearts soaring and one can only imagine what might be the reaction if Murray were to emulate her feat by lifting the men's trophy this year.

Wimbledon 2009 is another age, a less genteel sporting era perhaps, one in which the winners of the men's and women's singles will pick up £850,000.

Back in 1977, Wade won only £13,500. But the memories, for player and fans alike, were priceless.

No comments:

Post a Comment