National hopes of a Brit winning Wimbledon were dashed for another year with Andy Murray’s exit in the semi-finals last Friday. But Murray, at age 22, hasn’t reached his peak, so dreams that he will one day win the title still burn bright. It’s been 73 years since the last Brit won the men’s singles, and in the absence of a British successor Fred Perry remains highly revered.
Frederick John Perry was born in Stockport, Cheshire on 18 May 1909. Here is his entry in the findmypast.com birth indexes:
Search for births, marriages and deaths now
Here is the Perry family on the 1911 census. The head of the household is Fred’s father, Samuel Perry. He is listed as a ‘cotton spinner’, but would later become MP for Kettering, Northamptonshire. When the census was taken Fred Perry was a month shy of his second birthday (click image to enlarge):
Table-tennis champion to tennis virtuoso
Fred Perry initially made his name as a table-tennis player. He won the 1929 table-tennis world championships and only took up competitive tennis when he reached 18. His transition from table tennis to tennis would prove easy. His exceptional speed and hand-to-eye coordination suited him perfectly to both sports.
He won the tennis US Open in 1933, 1934 and 1936, the Australian Open in 1934, the French Open in 1935, and Wimbledon in 1933, 1934, and 1936. To this day he remains the last Brit to win any of the four tournaments.
In 1937, after a three-year spell as world number one, Perry turned professional and spent two years engaged in lengthy tours with the American Ellsworth Vines. Here is Perry en route to the USA, aboard the Queen Mary in June 1937 (click image to enlarge):
Ellsworth Vines appears on the list for the same voyage:
That year they played 61 matches in America: Vines won 32, and Perry 29. Back in England the Brit evened the score by winning six out of nine matches, which left them tied at 35 wins each.
Perry died in Melbourne, Australia on 2 February 1995. Even today, some tennis historians rate him among the greatest players of all time.
Unravel your Australian ancestry
If you have ancestors who emigrated to Australia, you may be able to trace their movements and perhaps those of their descendents using findmypast.com’s new Australian records. These new records include burials, funeral notices and memorial inscriptions for Victoria, which now form part of the findmypast.com Parish Records Collection. There are also records for convict arrivals and names in Victoria Government Gazettes (1858-1900), which have been added to the Other records section.