July 6, 2020
For Roger Federer and Fred Perry, July 6 was a very special day at Wimbledon.
This is the day two legends achieved a dream. Every tennis player’s dream.
Federer and Perry won Wimbledon for the first time on July 6. So today is a day to feel happy if you love Wimbledon.
Roger is indeed as happy as he can possibly be today, given that he isn’t in his usual spiritual sporting home.
Wimbledon is on his mind. That’s natural. But his family home has its compensations.
He told L’Equipe: ‘I feel sad not being at Wimbledon right now but I’m also happy being in Switzerland.
‘It was a good thing staying home for a long time. I’ve been travelling for 25 years and I’ve never stayed home more than four or five weeks.
‘My main goal is to continue my rehabilitation every day, little by little. I’m not back at my best physical level yet but I am looking forward to it – and getting back to Wimbledon next year.’
There you have it. Roger Federer is confident he will be back in his very best shape for Wimbledon 2021.
Perry must have been so delighted on July 6, 1934. Sadly he is no longer with us to mark the day.
A small matter of 69 years separated Fred’s maiden singles title at the Championships from Roger’s.
But the euphoria was probably just as intense for both men – for slightly different reasons.
When Perry faced Jack Crawford in the Wimbledon final all those years ago, the two finalists knew each other all too well.
Perry had prevented Crawford taking a Calendar Slam at the 1933 US Open. He had followed up by beating the Australian in his own back yard to take the next Slam too.
So Crawford would have been desperate for revenge at Perry’s home Slam. Instead it was one-way traffic until a hard-fought final set.
By the time Perry jumped the net in his long white trousers, he had won 6-3, 6-0, 7-5. His very first Wimbledon title in the bag.
What a feeling!
The working class lad from Stockport was to take the following two Wimbledons as well.
Andy Murray was the next British male to win the singles at the world’s premier tennis tournament.
By the time Murray came of age, victories at the All England Club were almost common place to Roger Federer.
But not back in 2003. Back then, Federer had never won Wimbledon. What’s more, he had never won a Grand Slam.
Hard as it is to believe now, Federer was regarded as something of a disappointment.
He had all the talent and every shot in the game. He had even beaten the great Pete Sampras at Wimbledon two years earlier.
But as a youngster, Federer had thrown many a tantrum. And he was still getting knocked out in the first round of many a Grand Slam.
So people were talking about a personality flaw. Seems crazy now, doesn’t it?
The coolest guy on the planet, the most admired sports personality around. Twenty Grand Slams to his name these days.
And all that stunning success so richly deserved.
But with zero Slams back in the summer of 2003, Federer was regarded as a youngster who either lost his head too easily or didn’t care enough when the chips were down.
All that changed on July 6, 2003. The signs were extremely good when he downed the favourite, Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon semi-final.
Even before that, the gods seemed to be on his side. Struck down with a back spasm against Feliciano Lopez in the fourth round, Roger found a way.
‘I was in really big pain, struggling to serve and return. I couldn’t even sit down. Somehow I stayed in the match and it got better.’
And the tournament got much, much better. By the time he faced the unseeded Mark Phillippoussis in the final, he was overwhelming favourite.
This time, finally, Federer fulfilled his promise and won 7-6, 6-2, 7-6. He sank to his knees to savour the moment.
Later Roger said: ‘There was pressure on all sides and it’s a huge relief to win. I just hope it won’t be my last.’
Federer needn’t have worried about that. He fulfilled his childhood dream time and again. Eight times so far, to be precise.
‘I was always joking when I was a boy that I would win this,’ he said that first time.
Except that it wasn’t a joke. Roger Federer always knew deep down he had something special.
July 6 was the happy day a Wimbledon dream came true for Federer – and Fred Perry too.