Virginia Wade: How Britain's best female tennis player made Wimbledon history in 1977

Virginia Wade

It’s been 44 years since Virginia Wade won at Wimbledon in 1977. Since then, many more British hopefuls have tried to follow in her footsteps, but all have come up short.

Indeed, Ann Jones remains the only other British woman to win at the All England Club in the Open Era back in 1969, but Wade’s triumph was especially noteworthy for so many reasons.

Not only was it the Brits’ first Wimbledon victory, but it came in the tournament’s centenary year as well as the year of Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee.

The Queen was actually in attendance for the final for the first time since 1962. Together with almost 10,000 fans, her Majesty watched on as Wade beat Dutch star Betty Stöve in straight sets.

It was the British star’s third major title, following her wins at the 1968 US Open and 1972 Australian Open. In 1975, she was ranked second in the world, though the coveted number one spot always eluded her.

Wade

Given these statistics, Wade is unquestionably the greatest British female tennis player of the Open Era. The likes of Andy Murray have found success more recently in the men’s game, but the search for a women’s champion is still ongoing.

This year’s Championships are stacked with British hopefuls. Katie Boulter, Jodie Burrage, Harriet Dart, Emma Raducanu and Samantha Murray Sharan will all vie for history, but given all are wildcard entries, this seems unlikely.

Britain’s best chance seems to lie with Johanna Konta. The 30-year-old reached the semi-finals back in 2017 and has been ranked as high as fourth in the past.

Konta has struggled with injuries in recent years but found form at the Nottingham Open just a couple of weeks ago to win her fourth WTA title.

Could it be her year? With many of the world's top stars battling fitness problems, then it might just be possible. Given the unpredictability of the French Open earlier this month as well, there are bound to be some upsets.

It may not be an anniversary year. It may not be the Queen’s Jubilee, but another British victory after so many years would surely feel just as momentous.

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