Strawberries and cream; Pimms and lemonade; new balls, please; a British player getting hyped up and then crashing out: there are some things that are quintessential to the Wimbledon experience. There have been a number of successful British players, however, with Andy Murray’s name being on of the ones that jumps out when you’re looking down a list of 21st century winners at the All England Club.
There were more than a few journalists that made the error of forgetting that women exist when Murray won his first Wimbledon title in 2013, saying that no Brit had won at Wimbledon for 77 years. The Scot was quick to correct them, however, pointing out that Virginia Wade had won it in 1977, which was 36 years prior. Even so, British Wimbledon champions don’t come around all that often.
Quick Answer: How Many British Players Have Won Wimbledon?
In total 29 British players have won 69 singles titles at Wimbledon. In the open era, three British players have won Wimbledon singles titles. They are Andy Murray in 2013 and 2016, Virginia Wade in 1977 and Ann Haydon-Jones in 1969. In the amateur era, 14 players won Men’s Singles titles and 12 players won Women’s Singles titles.
There have been 33 Men’s Doubles titles won by pairings involving British players, though only Jonathan Marry has won in the open era. There have been ten winning Women’s Doubles partnerships involving British players though these were all in the amateur era. In Mixed Doubles, 10 winning open era parings have involved British players, with 10 in the amateur era also.
The British Singles Winners
The British are widely regarded as being the nation that created tennis, yet British players haven’t enjoyed a wealth of success in the four Grand Slams. At the time of writing, only Fred Perry is the only Brit to have won all four of them. Andy Murray is probably the one who came closest, being a losing finalist in the Australian Open five times and missing out on the French Open in 2016.
It’s Wimbledon that we’re most interested in here, of course, and on that front there have been 29 winners of either the Men’s or Women’s Singles titles. That, of course, includes the amateur era, with professionals only allowed to compete from 1968 onwards. Below is a look at all of the male and female winners of the Wimbledon Singles title.
British Open Era Wimbledon Men’s Singles Winners
|Andy Murray||2||2013, 2016|
British Open Era Wimbledon Women’s Singles Winners
British Amateur Era Wimbledon Men’s Singles Winners
|William Renshaw||7||1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885, 1886, 1889|
|Laurence Doherty||5||1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906|
|Reginald Doherty||4||1897, 1898, 1899, 1900|
|Fred Perry||3||1934, 1935, 1936|
|Arthur Gore||3||1901, 1908, 1909|
|Wilfred Baddeley||3||1891, 1892, 1895|
|Joshua Pim||2||1893, 1894|
|John Hartley||2||1879, 1880|
British Amateur Era Wimbledon Women’s Singles Winners
|Dorothea Douglass Lambert Chambers||7||1903, 1904, 1906, 1910, 1911, 1913, 1914|
|Blanche Bingley Hillyard||6||1886, 1889, 1894, 1897, 1899, 1900|
|Charlotte Cooper Sterry||5||1895, 1896, 1898, 1901, 1908|
|Lottie Dod||5||1887, 1888, 1891, 1892, 1893|
|Dorothy Round||2||1934, 1937|
|Kathleen McKane Godfree||2||1924, 1926|
|Maud Watson||2||1884, 1885|
|Ethel Thomson Larcombe||1||1912|
As you can see, it was far more common for British players to win the Singles title during the amateur era of tennis. Only three people have won it during the open era, at the time of writing, with Andy Murray having joined a list that already contained Ann Haydon Jones and Virginia Wade. William Renshaw and Dorothea Chambers were the most successful amateurs, winning their respective titles seven times apiece.
At this point, it is worth having a brief discussion about Spencer Gore. He was actually born in Wimbledon on the 10th of March 1850 and was a first-class cricketer, spending his days in the sport playing for Surrey County Cricket Club. On top of that, Gore was a keen tennis player and the first person to win the Wimbledon Men’s Singles title in 1877. Educated at Harrow, he excelled at sport.
Gore’s reputation as a talented cricketer was established in his first match when he hit 17 runs off the first four balls he faced during his first-class cricketing debut for Surrey against Middlesex. Having been born within a mile of the All England Croquet Club, his name was on the roster to play in the first Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship when the club had changed its name to become the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
He defeated William Marshal 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 for the title, but perhaps more important was the fact that he was the first player to volley a ball. So it is that he is widely credited as being the creator of the volley as a style of shot. Twenty-two men entered the initial competition, paying a guinea each for the privilege. The 21 matches that formed the tournament were spread over five days, with Gore dropping just two sets in his four rounds.
In the days of the amateur game, it was common for the previous year’s winning player to be invited straight to the challenge round of the following year and to play against the ‘challenger’. So it was that Gore went up against Frank Hadow, who had won the All Comers part of the tournament, in the Gentleman’s Singles Challenge Round, losing 7-5, 6-1, 9-7. That was the last time that he competed in the Wimbledon Championships.
The first year to feature both men’s doubles matches and the women’s singles competition was 1884. The men’s doubles had previous been hosted by Oxford University, whereas the women’s game simply hadn’t been allowed to be part of Wimbledon until this point. Even then, neither tournament was started until after the men’s had been completed. There were 13 women competitors.
Maud Watson was born in Harrow in October of 1864 and was the daughter or a local vicar. She learned to play tennis with her sister in the family garden, taking to it with relative ease thanks to the fact that she already played squash. She made her tennis debut as a 16-year-old at the Edgbaston Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club, defeating her sister in the final and winning the doubles competition alongside her.
When she entered the first ever Ladies’ Singles tournament at Wimbledon in 1884, she did so as a 19-year-old who had never lost in a tournament. Once again it was her sister Lillian that she came up against in the final, defeating her 6-8, 6-3, 6-3 whilst playing in a white corset and petticoat. She won a silver flower basket that was valued at 20 guineas. She won the title again the following year, beating Blanche Bingley 6-1, 7-5.
In 1886, Wimbledon introduced the Challenge Round aspect of the competition for women. That meant that Watson went straight to the final round, where she once again faced Blanche Bingley. This time it was Bingley’s turn to enjoy a victory, defeating her 6-3, 6-3. That was the last time that Watson competed in the Wimbledon Championship, with a sprained wrist keeping her out of tournaments in 1887 and 1888.
British Doubles Winners
The Doubles tournament at Wimbledon is a strange one, rarely given the same amount of respect or airtime as the Singles championship. Even so, there have been a number of British winners of both the Men’s Doubles, the Women’s Doubles and the Mixed Doubles tournaments. Many of the same name that appear in the Singles table above will be recognisable from the early years of the competitions.
Here’s a look firstly at the Men’s Double champions from Britain, split into the open and amateur eras. To make things easier, we’ve included both partners when they were both British and only the British winner if their partner was from another country:
British Open Era Wimbledon Men’s Doubles Winners
British Amateur Era Wimbledon Men’s Doubles Winners
|Pat Hughes & Raymond Tucker||1936|
|Leslie Godfree & Randolph Lycett||1923|
|Randolph Lycett & Max Woosnam||1921|
|Charles Dixon & Herbert Roper Barrett||1912, 1913|
|Major Ritchie||1908, 1910|
|Arthur Gore & Herbert Roper Barrett||1909|
|Frank Riseley & Sydney Smith||1902, 1906|
|Laurence Doherty & Reginald Doherty||1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1903, 1904, 1905|
|Herbert Baddeley, Wilfred Baddeley||1891, 1894, 1895, 1896|
|Joshua Pim & Frank Stoker||1890, 1893|
|Harry Barlow & Ernest Lewis||1892|
|Patrick Bowes-Lyon & Herbert Wilberforce||1887|
|Ernest Renshaw & William Renshaw||1884, 1885, 1886, 1888, 1889|
Once again, it’s clear that the amateur era was the time when British players were most successful in the Men’s Doubles competition. Here’s a look at the Women’s Doubles game where only the amateur era is shown as to date there have been no British winners of the Women’s Doubles in the open era.
British Amateur Era Wimbledon Women’s Doubles Winners
|Angela Mortimer & Anne Shilcock||1955|
|Freda James & Kay Stammers||1935, 1936|
|Dorothy Shepherd-Barron & Phyllis Mudford||1931|
|Peggy Saunders & Phoebe Watson||1928, 1929|
|Dora Boothby & Winifred McNair||1913|
There are less female winners of the doubles, but that’s at least in part thanks to the fact that it didn’t become part of the Wimbledon Championship until 1913. From 1938 onwards it was almost exclusively dominated by players from the United States of America, with other nationalities getting in on the act from 1958 onwards.
Mixed Doubles was introduced as a concept in the same year as the Women’s Doubles, though the idea of a Mixed Doubles tournament had been around since 1888. Here’s a look at the British winners, again split into the open era and amateur era, showing only the British player if they were teamed with somebody non-British.
British Open Era Wimbledon Mixed Doubles Winners
|Jamie Murray||2007, 2017|
|Jeremy Bates & Jo Durie||1987|
|John Lloyd||1983, 1984|
British Amateur Era Wimbledon Mixed Doubles Winners
|Fred Perry & Dorothy Round||1935, 1936|
|Leslie Godfree & Kitty Godfree||1926|
|Brian Gilbert & Kitty McKane||1924|
|Randolph Lycett||1919, 1921, 1923|
|James Cecil Parke & Ethel Larcombe||1914|
|Hope Crisp & Agnes Tuckey||1913|
The Mixed Doubles competition is perhaps the one that has seen British players enjoy the most success during the Open era, but even that is a close-run thing. The British have enjoyed sporadic moments of success in more recent times, but it’s fair to say that those that are part of it are generational talents.