Who are the Greats of Wimbledon?
There’s no doubt that Wimbledon is the pinnacle of the tennis season, and the only Grand Slam now played on grass has been held at the All England Club in London since 1877. However, it wasn’t until 1968 and the introduction of the Open Era that professionals were allowed to take part in Grand Slam tournaments, and prior to that, it was only open to amateurs. But who are the Greats of Wimbledon? Read on to find out.
Men’s Singles Champions
Roger Federer (11 finals, 8 wins)
The Swiss ace lays claim to holding the records for winning the most finals, as well as the most consecutive finals. Roger Federer made seven consecutive finals between 2003 and 2009 and was successful in six of them, going on to win the title a further two times.
His first win came in 2003, beating unseeded Mark Philippoussis 7-6(7-5), 6-2, 7-6(7-3). Federer went on to record back-to-back final wins against Andy Roddick in 2004 and 2005 – and he went on to win a third final against the American in 2009.
Federer holds the records for the longest singles final matches, both in terms of time played (he lost to Rafael Nadal in the 2008 final, after four hours and 48 minutes) and the number of games (the 2009 final consisted of 77 games and also had the longest final set).
His last finals appearance to date came in 2017, when the tennis maestro beat Croatia’s Marin Čilić in straight sets 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. Can he add to his tally this year? In Wimbledon betting odds, he’s priced at 3/1.
Pete Sampras (7 finals, 7 wins)
Regarded by many as the one of the greatest in the sport, Pete Sampras holds the enviable record of 100% final wins at Wimbledon. In fact, between the years of 1993 and 2000, his only loss at Wimbledon came in the quarter-finals against Richard Krajicek.
After losing out in the semi-finals in 1992, Sampras made his first Wimbledon – and third Grand Slam – final in 1993. He beat fellow American Jim Courier 7-6(7-3), 7-6(8-6), 3-6, 6-3 to win Wimbledon for the first time. He went onto secure a hat-trick of championships – but managed a greater feat of four final wins a row between the years of 1997 and 2000.
His most closely-contested final came in 1998 against Croatian Goran Ivanišević, then the 14th seed. Sampras came out on top, despite losing the first set, 6-7(2-7), 7-6(11-9), 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. After winning the 2000 men’s singles final, ‘Pistol Pete’ wasn’t able to defend his title and in the subsequent years, could only make the fourth and second rounds, respectively.
Ladies’ Singles Champions
Martina Navratilova (12 finals, 9 wins)
It doesn’t seem likely that any female player will ever surpass Martina Navratilova’s record of nine wins, let alone make it to 12 finals. In the current era, the closest are the Williams sisters.
Navratilova was dominant in the ‘80s, claiming six championships and 15 Grand Slam titles in that time, but her first came in 1978, when she defeated rival (and number 1 seed) Chris Evert 2-6, 6-4, 7-5. In fact, the Czech-American was triumphant over her compatriot in an additional four finals.
Although her last Wimbledon final win was in 1990 against Zina Garrison, who she dispatched in straight sets 6-4, 6-1; Navratilova made one more final in 1994, losing to Spaniard Conchita Martínez – and she made history a decade later, returning to SW19 as a wild card, becoming the oldest player in the Open Era to win a main draw match at Wimbledon. However, she was knocked out in round two.
Serena Williams (10 finals, 7 wins)
Serena Williams is second-most successful ladies’ player in the Open Era, with 23 singles titles, 14 in women’s doubles and two in mixed-doubles. She also lays claim to being the most recent female to hold all four Grand Slam titles, a feat she has managed twice (2002-03 and 2014-15).
At Wimbledon, she’s made 10 finals, beating her sister Venus on three occasions. The first victory in 2002, when she won 7-6(7-4), 6-3 was followed by a 4–6, 6–4, 6–2 win in 2003. After an absence for maternity leave after winning the Australian Open in 2017, Williams came back to Wimbledon like she’d never been away last year – making the final but losing to Germany’s Angelique Kerber in straight sets 6-3, 6-3.
Can Williams get closer to Navratilova’s record or will Kerber be victorious for a consecutive year?