Enjoy this 4-part Rolex documentary retracing Wimbledon’s history from Suzanne Lenglen to Rod Laver to Roger Federer. A must-see for every tennis fan.

Part 1 (1877-1939): the foundations of Wimbledon

Suzanne Lenglen, designer Ted Tinling, Gussie Moran, Bill Tilden, Jean Borotra, Henri Cochet, René Lacoste, Don Budge, Helen Wills, Fred Perry

Part 2 (1945-1977): a brand new era

Virginia Wade, Jack Kramer, Maureen Connolly, Althea Gibson, Ann Jones, Louise Brough, Harry Hopman, Ken McGregor, Rod Laver, Frank Sedgman, Cliff Drysdale, WCT, Handsome Eight, Ken Rosewall, Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong, Billie Jean King

Part 3 (1978-1999): the Golden Era

Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, Martina Navatilova, Steffi Graf, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi

Part 4 (2000-2011): Sampras, Federer, Venus and Serena

Pete Sampras, Pat Rafter, Roger Federer, Goran Ivanisevic, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, John Isner, Nicolas Mahut

Mats Wilander, Roland Garros 1982

By Barry Newcombe, Tennis World, July 1982

The first Sunday in June had become a routine operation for Lennart Bergelin, coach to Bjorn Borg. No-one would rise too early, they would practise for about an hour, and then Bjorn would go off and win the French title at Stade Roland Garros. That happened six times.
Everyone knew it could not happen this year. When the French championships began, Borg was handling the controls of a boat he had rented to sail among the Greek islands rather than a tennis racket, and somehow the 128 contenders left in the hunt for the French title knew that things would not be the same.

There was never really that much speculation about the winner. Ninety percent of the press room would probably have opted for Ivan Lendl to move from the runner-up role he occupied in 1981 into the role of champion. The feeling in the locker room may have been more or less the same.
There were considered to be two other strong contenders – Guillermo Vilas, on the basis that he was a past champion and was playing supremely well, and the top-seeded Jimmy Connors who could perhaps count this year as his last reasonable opportunity of a first win in the French.
But nobody mentioned Mats Wilander of Sweden. He had, after all, been a semi-finalist in Rome on the eve of the French championships and although those of us who had been there knew that his eye was sharp and his game in good order it was stretching credibility to expect him to make the last four in Paris. After all, he was not even seeded.

Yet at the end of two of the hottest weeks I can ever recall at Roland Garros, there was Wilander, 77 days short of his 18th birthday, climbing the stairs at the stadium to receive the trophy from Jean Borotra, now 82 years old, who had done it all 50 years previously.
At his home in Sweden, Bergelin had watched Wilander win the final over Vilas 1-6, 7-6, 6-0, 6-4 on television and could not believe it. “It is fantastic”, he would say. “Bjorn does not play and now we have another Swedish player as champion. It is so good for the game in our country. I would say to Mats “Remember the first title is the best.” Bjorn always said that.”

When any analysis of Wilander’s career is made, it is clear that one of the critical days came in the fourth round of the French championship when he faced Lendl. By the time this match had reached two sets all, Wilander knew he had already set up one new mark in his career. He had never played a five-set match in his life and his reaction to that task was to open up a 5-2 lead against leaden-legged Lendl whose forehand let him down in these crucial stages. “I did my best”, said Lendl. “I was practising hard, trying hard, and I was outplayed.”

After Lendl, Wilander played Vitas Gerulaitis, the most consistent of the American players on European clay, but not good enough to hold off the teenager with a target. Gerulaitis went in four sets and Wilander moved on to a semi-final against José-Luis Clerc, the fourth seed, who had struggled in Florence and Rome and appeared to be playing with more assurance.

But Wilander was beginning to create a sense of insecurity among the seeds. He broke Clerc’s serve in the very first game as he hoisted his victory flag and he was never in serious danger of losing this four-set semi-final until the second match point at 6-5 in the first set (he had missed an easier one, in terms of pressure, at 5-1). On the second, a forehand from Clerc was called out and the umpire called the match and left his chair. But Wilander went to the umpire and told him: “The ball was good, that’s not the way I want to win.” Both players agreed that the ball was correct so the umpire, Jacques Dorfmann, who is also the championship referee, caught the mood of the moment and ordered the point replayed. This time Clerc found the net with a backhand and it was firmly settled.

Vilas, meantime, was cruising. Round by round he was being fined $250 for an illegal headband but he was punishing all comers in a supreme display of his strength and ability. He reached the final without losing a set and having conceded 39 games. Surely this iron man who trained so hard would end the one-man assault on the top ten which Wilander had produced.

Another burning hot day was the setting for the final. After an hour, Vilas had won the first set 6-1 and I believe it was the time rather than the score which was significant at that stage. The rallies were long and arduous with 60-stroke exchanges commonplace.
By the time the two players had reached the tie break at the end of the second set, a further 90 minutes had elapsed and Wilander, having saved a set point with a top spin lob, took the tie-break by eight points to six. It was, of course, the first set Vilas had lost in the championships and he never won another.
Wilander, whose full fitness had been hampered by a heavy cold, did not lose a game in the third set which saw him accelerating mentally away from the left-handed Argentine. In the fourth, with cramp nagging at his racket hand, he broke through for 5-4 and served out in champion style for victory in four hours and 43 minutes. Ice-cool, like Borg, he had become the youngest winner in any of the Grand Slam titles.

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.

Check out Get behind the scenes at Roland Garros – part 1

Ladies locker room:

The highlight of the tour is when you get to go inside the ladies dressing room. But you might be surprised at how small the locker rooms are:

Roland Garros

Roland Garros

Roland Garros

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Last Saturday I signed up for a one-hour Roland Garros guided tour. Here is the photo recap. Enjoy!

For more infos about bookings, prices and so on, check out the official website of the Museum.

Roland Garros

The gardener’s cottage:

At the end of the 60s, this English-Normandy styled cottage served as the office of Pierre Darmon, director of the Roland Garros tournament. At one time, it functioned as the caretaker’s home.

The charm of the cottage was maintained for the entry to the Roland Garros Tenniseum, that Christian Bîmes, president of the FFT (French Tennis Federation), inaugurated on May 25, 2003.
This 2,200m² underground multi-media museum assembles, preserves and presents different elements constitute the memory of tennis in France. The museum and its library are open Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 until 18.00.

Tenniseum

Place des Mousquetaires:

The guided tour begins at the Place des Mousquetaires (Musketeers’ square), situated between the Court Philippe Chatrier and the Court Number One.

Place des Mousquetaires
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