Looking Back at the Wimbledon of Anthony Wilding
Now that the Wimbledon Championships have officially been cancelled because of the outbreak of the coronavirus and COVID-19 disease, Forbes looks at other years the world’s most famous tennis event was disrupted, including the years of the First World War when Christchurch-born Anthony Wilding was a “superstar of his day”.
“There was no play at Wimbledon between 1914 and 1919, when Britain fought in the First World War. According to the 2019 Wimbledon Compendium, the Club was only able to stay afloat because of gifts from members and well-wishers,” Danielle Rossingh writes for Forbes.
Wilding was considered the world’s first tennis superstar of his day, who, “with a big fan base not only won four straight Wimbledon titles from 1910 to 1913, but also played cricket and rugby for Cambridge University. [He] was killed in action on the battlefields of northern France in 1915 [having] signed up for the Royal Marines on the outbreak of the war. Wilding, who also competed in motorcycling events, clinched two Australian Open titles and four Davis Cups.
“Once the war was over, The Championships resumed in 1919. For the first time, the event was played in its new format of ‘last week in June, first week of July,’ while the men’s singles draw was extended to 128 players.”
According to Wikipedia: “Shortly after the outbreak of World War I [Wilding] enlisted and was killed on 9 May 1915 during the Battle of Aubers Ridge at Neuve-Chapelle, France. In 1978 [he] was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.”
Original article by Danielle Rossingh, Forbes, April 1, 2020.