At last. At long long last. At the 16th attempt, Virginia Wade won the Wimbledon singles title. She must have been waiting for the Centenary Championships so she could receive the trophy from the Queen. In the final, Wade made the whole country suffer yet again, losing the first set to Holland's Betty Stove. But big Betty blew hot and cold - when her timing was exactly right, she could blast you off court, as in her semi-final against Britain's Sue Barker. But her timing was usually off (this was the only Grand Slam singles final she ever reached) - and for once Wade conquered her nerves. She'd beaten defending champion Chris Evert in the semi-finals; now she won the second set 6-3 and the third 6-1. When she hit her final fierce forehand return of serve, the crowd noise made Stove put a hand to her ear. She lost all three Wimbledon finals that year. Wade reached the quarter-finals in 1983 when she was very nearly 38.
The last British player to reach the men's singles final at Wimbledon, Henry Wilfred 'Bunny' Austin, didn't have much luck at the championships. Fred Perry retired soon after winning the title for the third time, against an opponent who could hardly move (3 July 1936). Bunny never had that luxury. He reached finals before and after Perry, but both times he came up against the best players of their day, both of whom blasted through his gentle groundstrokes. In 1932 he was blown away by Ellsworth Vines, who was erratic in the extreme but when he got it right you had no chance. He got it right against poor Bunny, winning 6-4 6-2 6-0. It's said that Austin didn't even see the last serve as it blazed past him. Today six years later, he met one of the all-time greats, and again couldn't win a set as defending champion Don Budge used his heavy serve and crushing backhand to force Austin onto the defensive in just about every rally, hitting winners off Bunny's best shots. Budge won 6-1 6-0 6-3 in just over an hour, then added the doubles and the mixed the following day. He completed the first ever singles Grand Slam on 24 September. Austin reached the French final in 1937 but never won a Grand Slam singles title.
Carl Lewis was born in Alabama. The Jesse Owens of his time, he matched Owens' feat at the 1936 Olympics (4 August) by winning the same four events at the 1984 Games: the sprint treble and the long jump. Unlike Owens, he never broke the world record in the long jump, but then he didn't jump in an Olympics at altitude like Bob Beamon (18 October 1968). For consistency over a long period, Lewis was untouchable, winning more than 60 consecutive competitions spread over ten years, a sequence broken only by a world record in a classic duel at the 1991 World Championships (30 August), in which Lewis also won the 100 metres for the third time in a row. He equalled another famous achievement (15 October 1968) by winning the long jump in four Olympics, the last on 29 July 1996, which was his ninth Olympic gold in all events. He also won eight World Championship titles, a record equalled only by Michael Johnson. Three of those were in the 100 metres, in which Lewis set a surprise world record in 1991. He inherited the 1987 title when Ben Johnson was stripped of it after failing a drugs test at the 1988 Olympics (24 September). Ironic that, because Lewis eventually acknowledged that he tested positive for banned stimulants at the 1988 Olympic trials. "Who cares?" he said. "There were hundreds of people getting off. Everyone was treated the same." Except Ben Johnson, that is.
Even in the days when breaking 70 was extremely rare, you couldn't expect to shoot consecutive rounds of 80 and win golf's British Open. George Duncan did just that. After those opening 80s, he was 13 shots off the lead - but Abe Mitchell couldn't cope with being in front: a disastrous first five holes (he took eight at the fifth) led to a third round of 84. Meanwhile Duncan reached the turn in 33 on his way to a round of 71. He followed that with a 72 which left him two shots clear of Sandy Herd, who was in his early 50s. It was the last time the Open was held at Deal in Kent. Poor Mitchell never won a Major.
Famous East German sprinter Marlies Göhr was only 19 and still Marlies Ölsner when she became the first woman to be electronically timed at under 11 seconds for the 100 metres. Her time of 10.88 broke the 11.01 set at the 1976 Olympics. She tested positive for steroids at the 1975 European Juniors.
The first woman to throw the redesigned javelin over 70 metres. Osleidys Menéndez of Cuba reached 71.54 to regain the record from Norway's Trine Hattestad, who'd set her sixth world best of 69.48 the previous year. Menéndez broke her own record in 2005.
In 1950, Italy's Luigi Fagioli finished third in motor racing's inaugural World Championship. Today he shared a drive in the French Grand Prix and helped Juan Manuel Fangio win the race by nearly a minute from Froilán González and Alberto Ascari. The 53-year-old Fagioli was the oldest driver to win a Championship race and the second-oldest to win a Grand Prix (14 July 1946).
The first French driver to win the French Grand Prix in 30 years. Both of Renault's drivers occupied the first two places on the grid, and it was Jean-Pierre Jabouille who started on pole and won by nearly 15 seconds from team mate René Arnoux. Another French speaker, Canada's Gilles Villeneuve, was second. When Charles Pozzi won the Grand Prix in 1949, it was a race for sports cars.
Christl Cranz was born in Brussels but moved to Germany during the First World War. The most successful Alpine skier of all time, she absolutely dominated the period just before the Second World War, winning 12 World Championship titles (the next-highest total is seven) - at a time when there were only three events. In 1937 and 1939, she took all three: downhill, slalom, and combined. She would have won even more if she hadn't opted out of the 1936 Championships to concentrate on the Winter Olympics, where she won the combined, the only event on the schedule. Nineteen seconds down after the downhill, she skied the fastest times in both slalom runs. She was 90 when she died.