November 1, 1911: birth of Sidney Wood

Sidney Wood, the only player to win a Wimbledon final without striking a ball, is born in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

In 1931, Wood is scheduled to play Frank Shields in the Wimbledon men’s singles final, but Shields, who injured his ankle in his semifinal win over number 1 seed Jean Borotra, is pressured by the US Davis Cup committee to default the final in order to rest up and prevent further injury in preparation for the US Davis Cup team’s match with Britain the following week.

Frank wanted to play, and so did I. It was insulting to the fans and the tournament. I didn’t want to win that way. But the US Davis Cup committee ordered Frank to withdraw so he’d be ready for Davis Cup the next weekend againt Britain, which we lost. It shows you the control the USTA had over us amateurs.

Wood, at age 19, was the youngest man to win Wimbledon at the time, a record that 17-year-old Boris Becker eclipsed in 1985.

Source: On this day in tennis history by Randy Walker

Sidney Wood’s son, David, chronicled this controversial victory in his book The Wimbledon final that never was

Sidney Wood -who reached the final of the U.S. Championships at Forest Hills back in 1935, later founded the prestigious Town Tennis Club in Manhattan. His fascinating life also included dating the iconic Grace Kelly prior to her marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956. He was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1964. He died in 1999, age 97.

Frank Shields was ranked eight times in the U.S. Top Ten, reaching Number 1 in 1933. He died in 1975. He was the grandfather of actress (and Agassi’s ex-wife) Brooke Shields.

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