News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay

Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Special: Wimbledon made them tennis legends

Special: Wimbledon made them tennis legends

Last updated on: June 22, 2011 09:12 IST

Special: Wimbledon made them tennis legends


Bikash Mohapatra

It is not just about tradition. It is about the impact.

Look at the questions below and try answering them. 

What is common to Mark Edmondson, Roscoe Tanner, Vitas Gerulaitis, Brian Teacher, Petr Korda, Thomas Johansson, Kerry Melville Reid, Barbara Jordan and Chris O'Neil?

What relates Andres Gimeno, Adriano Panatta, Yannick Noah, Andres Gomez, Albert Costa, Gaston Gaudio, Mima Jau ovec, Virginia Ruzici, Iva Majoli and Anastasia Myskina?

The answer to the first question is the fact all those players won their lone career major at the Australian Open while, in the second case, all the players mentioned won their sole Grand Slam title at the French Open.

It's not surprising if you had to scratch your heads in trying to find answers to the two questions above. Now answer this.

What is common to Pat Cash, Michael Stich, Richard Krajicek, Jana Novotna and Goran Ivanisevic?

You guessed it right. They are all Wimbledon champions*. 

Also read: Wimbledon's six to savour

It is not that the feats of the players mentioned in the first two questions is any less. It is just that those mentioned in the third have won the most coveted of them all. 

A title at the All England Club cements a player's place in the history. Simply because it is not easy to win one.

Rarely do we have an outsider - as is the case with the other majors - lifting the trophy after those two weeks of tennis. The winner is more or less on expected lines.

And that precisely is the reason why a Wimbledon champion isn't easily forgotten.

With the 2011 edition of the prestigious tournament getting underway, Senior Associate Editor Bikash Mohapatra takes a look at a few players whose lone claim to fame came at the grass courts of the All England Club.

* The selection is limited to the Open Era

Image: Wimbledon logo
Photographs: Reuters

1987 triumph ensured Cash a place in tennis history

Prev     Next


Pat Cash (1987)

In one of his interviews Ramesh Krishnan, one of India's best players ever, had this to say when asked to assess his career.

Also read: Beating Borg is good memory

'I won eight career titles,' he said, adding, 'Pat Cash won six.

'One of them though happened to be at Wimbledon.'

Krishnan was right. It would have been difficult to recollect the Australian's name had it not been for his success at the All England Club in 1987.

Having already got the better of Mats Wilander in the last eight and two-time winner Jimmy Connors in the semis, Cash upset top-ranked Ivan Lendl in the final that year and ensured his place in tennis history.

Image: Pat Cash

Prev     Next

When Michael rocked at the All England Club

Prev     Next


Michael Stich (1991)

His compatriot Boris Becker was one of the favourites to win that year.

Even the crowds had got used to seeing Becker play his nemesis (Stefan Edberg) in the final.

But Michael Stich had other ideas.

He rode his puck to put out defending champion and World No. 1 Edberg in the semis 4 6, 7 6, 7 6, 7 6, this despite not being able to break the Swede's serve even once in the match.

And, in the decider, he got the better of Becker, in straight sets at that!

Stich could never win another major in his career.

He did return to the All England Club in 1992, to win the men's doubles title in partnership with American veteran John McEnroe.

Image: Michael Stich

Prev     Next

Martinez's triumph in 1994 was ironical

Prev     Next


Conchita Martinez (1994)

It wouldn't have been surprising had Conchita Martinez won her lone major title on the clay courts of Roland Garros.

She was an accomplished player on the red dirt and had a good career record at the French Open.

It was ironical, therefore, that her lone career major came on the grass courts of Wimbledon.

The Spaniard got the better of future champion Lindsay Davenport and Lori McNeil to make it to the final and earn a meeting with the legendary Martina Navratilova.

The nine-time champion was past her prime but many still considered her good enough to get the better of the Spaniard on grass.

However, it was Martinez who scored a fluent 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win to lay her hands on the Venus Rosewater dish.

That remained Martinez's lone career title on grass. And, without doubt, the most cherished.

Image: Conchita Martinez

Prev     Next

When Krajicek had the measure of Sampras

Prev     Next


Richard Krajicek (1996)

If there was one player who managed to beat Pete Sampras on a regular basis at his peak, it was the Dutchman.

En route to his title triumph in 1996, Krajicek put out the American in straight sets in the quarter-finals. It was Sampras's lone defeat at Wimbledon between 1993 and 2000.

Having put out another former champion (Michael Stich) in the pre-quarters, the last two matches turned out to be comparatively easier for the Dutchman.

Australian Jason Stoltenberg was put out in straight sets in the semis and American MaliVai Washington was meted out similar treatment in the final.

Krajicek had won the most coveted major.

He never made it to another major final. He didn't have to.

He had made history -- being the first Dutch player to win a major.

Image: Richard Krajicek

Prev     Next

Novotna third time lucky

Prev     Next


Jana Novotna (1997)

If anyone deserved to win at Wimbledon it was Jana Novotna.

However, it took some time coming.

A heartbreaking loss in the ladies singles' final in 1993 (to Steffi Graf), in a match she led, saw the Czech crying on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent following the post-match ceremony.

Another disappointment came in 1997.

Again Novotna led, against Swiss teenager Martina Hingis on this occasion. Again she lost.

However, the serve-and-volley exponent eventually laid her hands on the Venus Rosewater dish in 1998.

A straight sets win over Frenchwoman Nathalie Tauziat ensured Novotna won the title she had desired for long.

A place in the history books was hers.

Image: Jana Novotna

Prev     Next

Ivanisevic realised lifelong ambition

Prev     More


Goran Ivanisevic (2001)

German Gottfried von Cramm lost in three successive Wimbledon finals between 1935-37.

Australian Fred Stolle was second best in three successive finals between 1963-65.

And old warhorse Ken Rosewall was left with the runners-up plaque on four occasions.

When Goran Ivanisevic stepped on Centre Court to play Australian Pat Rafter in the 2001 final, he was aware he could end up being a member of that inglorious club.

And when the match moved into a fifth set, it seemed the Croat would crack again, as he had done in the 1992 and 1998 finals.

However, he survived (winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 9-7) to make true his lifelong ambition.

Ranked 125 coming into the tournament (courtesy a wildcard), Ivanisevic remains the only wildcard, and the lowest-ranked player, to have won the Wimbledon title.

Image: Goran Ivanisevic

Prev     More