On This Day

  • June 9 down the years

Sharapova makes history in Paris

Maria Sharapova completed a career Grand Slam at Roland Garros © PA Photos
Enlarge

2012
Maria Sharapova secured her place in the history books as she became only the tenth woman to complete a career Grand Slam with victory at the French Open. Sharapova once famously described her movement on the clay as "like a cow on ice", but nearly eight years after her Wimbledon victory, the Russian added the one title that eluded her to her 2006 US Open and 2008 Australian Open titles. Her 6-3 6-2 victory over surprise finalist Sara Errani saw her return to the world No. 1 for the first time since 2008.

1898
First cut wasn't the deepest, it was just born out of necessity. For the first time in golf's British Open, players who were 20 or more shots behind the leader were excluded from the final two rounds. The cut was here to stay. One of its first victims was the 1893 champion Willie Auchterlonie. Harry Vardon won the event by a single shot, the second of his record six Open titles. He then signed a contract with Spalding to lend his name to a new ball, the Vardon Flyer, which apparently made him the first professional sportsman to be paid for endorsing a product.

2002
The Canadian Grand Prix was the 150th World Championship race won by Ferrari. Juan Pablo Montoya started on pole and set the fastest lap, but his engine conked out as he was reeling Michael Schumacher in. It was the fifth time Schumacher won the race, and he won it for the next two years after this.

At the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix, 22-year-old Lewis Hamilton became one of the youngest drivers to start on pole. The following day, he became one of the youngest to win a Grand Prix (though not as young as Sebastian Vettel on September 14, 2008) and the first mixed-race winner in Formula 1. The safety car came out four times and ten drivers didn't finish.

1998
Perris Wilkins threw the discus 66.64 metres to set the British record that still stands. He broke the 65.22 he'd set the previous year.

1945
A discus thrower with a much higher profile was born in the Ukraine. Faina Melnik competed for the USSR in the dark days of the 1970s, so we're entitled to some scepticism. A scary competitor with her permanent scowl and great roar when she released her implement, she was virtually unbeatable in the early years of the decade, winning 52 competitions in a row, including the 1972 Olympics. She was European champion twice and the first woman to throw over 70 metres. The last of her 11 world records would have won her every Olympic title after 1988. She married Bulgarian discus thrower Velko Velev.

2001
At Bethnal Green in London, British boxer Danny Williams defended his Commonwealth heavyweight title against Fiji-born Kali Meehan, who was unbeaten in 23 pro fights. His victims can't have been much cop, because Williams knocked him out in 32 seconds!

Ken Norton had previously lost to Muhammad Ali © Getty Images
Enlarge

1978
Ken Norton lost the world heavyweight title he never won in the ring. When Leon Spinks decided to defend against Muhammad Ali, the WBC took their belt from him and wrapped it round Norton, who'd won their eliminator against Jimmy Young. Tonight Norton made his first defence of the paper crown. He cut a contrasting figure to his challenger. Norton had the toned body of a bodybuilder, Larry Holmes always looked a tad soft and flabby - which shows how deceptive appearances can be. A great defensive boxer who could mess with the best-laid plans, he took Norton all the way and nicked a split decision in the last round. Tough on our Ken. He'd lost a controversial decision to Ali in 1976, and now this. Holmes made 16 successful defences of the WBA title, then switched to the IBF and winning that three times before going for Rocky Marciano's record on September 21, 1985.

1990
Monica Seleš became the youngest tennis player to win a Grand Slam singles title since July 6, 1887. In the Final of the French Open, she carried on her amazing form by winning her 32nd match in a row and sixth successive tournament. Even at 16, she hit too powerfully and accurately for former champion Steffi Graf, whom she'd also beaten in the Final of the German Open. Graf should have won the first set here, but there was a certain brittleness about her sometimes, especially against Seleš. Graf trailed 3-0 before rain began to fall, then 5-3, but took the set into a tie-break, where she led 6-2. Four set points should have been enough against a 16-year-old, but Graf lost the tie-break 8-6 and the second set 6-4. Seleš won the title in both the next two years, including another Final against Graf, who was very much second best until an infamous knife attack on April 30, 1993.

2001
Comeback kid Jennifer Capriati won the French Open. After years as a tennis prodigy and even more in the wilderness, she won a Grand Slam singles title for the first time: in Australia earlier in the year. Now the second bus came along. In the Final of the French, she lost the first set 6-1 to Kim Clijsters but hung in there to win 10-8 in the third. Clijsters made a comeback of her own by winning the US Open eight years later.

1984
England's rugby players resisted anti-Apartheid pleas to stay out of South Africa and went on a two-Test tour. All it achieved was a boost for the regime and the Springbok team, who won both matches easily against a squad who turned into a rabble on and off the pitch. England lost the first 33-15, three tries to nil - and did even worse today, going down 35-9, again without scoring a try. Thrustful centre Danie Gerber, an all-time great, scored three for South Africa, but it was candy from kids. Fly-half Errol Tobias scored one of the other three tries and kicked a conversion. Three years earlier, he'd become the first Cape Coloured player to start a rugby Test for South Africa.

© ESPN EMEA LTD
Close