February 12, 2016
What would Wimbledon’s history have been without Australians? Very different – and far less interesting.
You might even say the Aussies have earned the right to call Wimbledon their own, because there was a time when you practically had to be Australian to stand a chance of winning the men’s singles title!
Between 1956 and 1971, Australian men triumphed at Wimbledon no fewer than 13 times in 16 years! Lew Hoad, Ashley Cooper, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and John Newcombe all showed there was no match for Aussie grit and style at the All England Club. The imperious Laver won the title four times in the 1960s with his nimble approach and effortless grace.
Among the women, Margaret Court’s powerful game won her Wimbledon singles titles three times between 1963 and 1970. The following year, unforgettably, Evonne Goolagong captured Wimbledon hearts by defeating Court in the classic all-Australian final.
But perhaps the most memorable Wimbledon moment of all came in 1987, when a rebellious Australian – Pat Cash – brought a new brand of rock-star style celebration to Centre Court.
To gasps and cheers, he clambered through the crowd and scrambled onto the commentators’ roof before climbing into the players’ box to hug his nearest and dearest. Britain’s Andy Murray was still following the trend in 2014.
Another Aussie anti-hero, Lleyton Hewitt, won Wimbledon in 2002, having helped to introduce the Australian Fanatics to Wimbledon, their fun-filled chanting an interesting counter-balance to British formality.
And the latest player to push the boundaries at Wimbledon is of course Nick Kyrgios, tipped to be a future champion and perhaps even a world number one.
It hasn’t quite happened for Kyrgios yet at the All England Club, but it is only a matter of time. He is serious box office, full of fireworks, and there is something exciting about watching his struggle to conquer his demons and strive for greatness.
Will Kyrgios write the next chapter in the illustrious story of Australian triumph in west London? Probably.
In the mean time, there’s no doubt about it: the Australian tennis players have helped shape the history of Wimbledon, both on the court and off it – and they are always most welcome.
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