On This Day

  • July 8 down the years

15-year-old Hingis becomes a record breaker

Martina Hingis won ten grand slam doubles titles © Getty Images
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A favourite day for landmark Wimbledon tennis finals.

In 1996, Martina Hingis won the doubles with Helena Suková to become the youngest ever Wimbledon champion. She was 15 years 282 days old, just three days younger than Lottie Dod in 1887 (6 July). In the final against Meredith McGrath and doubles specialist Larisa Savchenko Neiland, Hingis and Suková lost the first set 7-5, won the second by the same score, then ran away with the decider 6-1. Hingis won the singles the following year (5 July).

1961
The only Wimbledon singles final between two British players since 1914. Angela Mortimer (born 21 April 1932) had reached the final in 1958, and she was well enough liked - but Christine Truman (16 January 1941) was the darling of the British public, who preferred her cavalier net attack to Mortimer's rather dull baseline game. So the crowd were sitting comfortably when Truman came from 3-1 down to win the first set 6-4. And a rain delay didn't affect her concentration: she had four points for a 5-3 lead in the second set. Then Mortimer threw up a lob and Truman slipped as she turned. When she got up, Mortimer hit a drop shot on the next point. Truman was visibly shaken for the next quarter of an hour, long enough for the tide to turn. She lost the next three games to drop the set - then her body shape began to tell. Truman was only 20, but she'd already been talking of retirement. Tall and chubby, a head taller than Mortimer, she had to work much harder to stay fit. In the final set, she recovered from 3-1 down again - but Mortimer kept her nerve through six consecutive service breaks, and two tired smashes by Truman cost her the match 7-5. She didn't reach the final again.

2007
The first member of the Murray family to win a Wimbledon title. In the final of the mixed doubles, Jamie Murray and Jelena Janković recovered from losing the second set to win the third 6-1 against Alicia Molik and doubles expert Jonas Björkman.

In the singles, Roger Federer emulated Björn Borg by winning the title for the fifth year in a row - but he was a little lucky. Rafael Nadal was still finding his feet on grass. He'd lost to Federer in the Final the previous year, and took this one into a fifth set. He might even have won it if he hadn't injured his leg after leading 4-1 in the fourth. He won that but lost the fifth 6-2, then came back to try and stop Federer breaking Borg's record the following year (6 July).

In 1978, Borg became the first player since Fred Perry to win the singles three years in a row. The previous year, he'd survived a five-set final against Jimmy Connors, but matador beat bull today, winning in three easy sets: 6-2 6-2 6-3. Borg of course became champion for the fifth time after an epic Final in 1980 (5 July).

Bjorn Borg was a master of his craft © Getty Images
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In 1984, Connors lost another one-sided final, this time to a John McEnroe at his peak. In 1982, Connors had regained the title after eight years by beating McEnroe in another long final - but, like Borg, McEnroe crushed him second time round, only more so: 6-1 6-1 6-2.

In 1889, Willie Renshaw won the Wimbledon singles title for the seventh time, a record equalled only on 9 July 2000. In the Challenge Round, Renshaw met the defending champion, who happened to be his twin brother Ernest. Willie had beaten him in consecutive Challenge Rounds a few years earlier, and he always had a bit too much zip for his brother. He won the first two sets easily, dropped the third, but ran away with the fourth 6-0.

2001 was the closest Tim Henman ever came to reaching a Wimbledon final. And it might have been closer if it hadn't rained. And rained. He reached the semi-finals for the third time by beating a young Roger Federer, who'd done him a favour by knocking out the holder Pete Sampras, who'd beaten Henman in two previous semis. Now Henman recovered from losing the first set to Goran Ivanišević to win the second on a tie-break and the third 6-0. Ivanišević looked buried - but "God wanted me to win this match. He sent the rain." The match dragged on into a third day, and the stops and starts cost Henman his rhythm. He lost a tie-break 7-5 and the fifth set 6-3. Ivanišević played the final the day after. Henman lost in the semis for the last time the following year.

In 1973, Billie Jean King completed the last triple crown at the championships. After winning the singles and doubles, she teamed up with regular partner Owen Davidson to regain the mixed doubles by beating Raúl Ramírez and Janet Newberry in two easy sets. They kept the title the following year. No male player has won the triple crown since 1952 (5 July).

2000
The first rugby union international to be played under a closed roof. At the Colonial (later Docklands) Stadium in Melbourne, Australia scored 27 unanswered points in the second half against South Africa, who led 23-17 at half-time thanks to two tries by right wing Breyton Paulse. Australia eventually scored five tries to three, two of them by Stirling Mortlock, who also kicked two conversions and five penalty goals for a total of 29 points.

Not such a good day for Australian rugby in 1989. They'd scored four tries to nil in outplaying the British & Irish Lions 30-12 in the first Test - and would have done much the same in the second if Lions coach Ian McGeechan hadn't made decisive changes to the team. In came five players, including four crucial Englishmen. Big Wade Dooley replaced the brilliant but gentle Robert Norster in the second row; Mike Teague was picked at flanker and became the player of the series; and two players came in after joining the tour as replacements: Jeremy Guscott to form a new centre pairing with Scotland's Scott Hastings, and Rob Andrew to run things at fly-half. The changes tightened up the backs, toughened up the forwards, and won the match - eventually. The Lions trailed 9-6 at half-time, but Andrew landed a penalty and drop goal before Gavin Hastings took his brother's bouncing pass to score the winning try with only four minutes to go. There was time for Guscott, who'd put his birthday celebrations on hold from the day before, to kick through and score under the posts. The Lions won 19-12 to set up a tasty decider on 15 July.

2009
Top American swimmer Aaron Peirsol became the first backstroker to go under 52 seconds for 100 metres. His time of 51.94 smashed the world record by 0.44 seconds. In regaining the record, he set his sixth in the event. He set his seventh in the 200 backstroke at the end of the month.

1924
Britain's forgotten hero of the Chariots of Fire Olympics. Douglas Lowe's success in the 800 metres was sandwiched between Harold Abrahams in the 100 metres (7 July) and Eric Liddell in the 400 (11 July). Lowe was lucky that the race favourite, his team mate Hyla "Henry" Stallard, had a bad foot and couldn't hang on to his lead in the home straight. But Lowe was a great finisher and might have beaten him anyway. He battled down the stretch with Switzerland's Paul Martin and won by a yard. Norway's Charles Hoff, who finished eighth, was the world record holder in the pole vault! Four years later, Lowe became the first British athlete to retain an Olympic title (31 July).

Today in 1924, DeHart Hubbard became the first black competitor to win an individual Olympic gold medal. He won the long jump with a leap of 7.44 metres, short of the world record Bob LeGendre had set the day before.

Meanwhile Clarence 'Bud' Houser won the shot putt, the first part of a landmark double he completed on 13 July.

1923
Harrison 'Bones' Dillard was born in Cleveland. When he was in high school, Jesse Owens gave him a pair of track shoes he'd worn in the 1936 Olympics. Dillard went on to fill them, winning four gold medals like Owens, though they took him rather longer. One of the greatest 100 metre hurdlers of all time, he broke the world record in 1948, won 82 consecutive races (26 June), and was the unbackable favourite for Olympic gold. But then, in a shock of shocks, he crashed out at the US trials and didn't make the team. So he went to London and won the 100 metres instead (31 July)! Four years later, he got it right at the trials and the Games themselves, winning the high hurdles at last. In both Olympics, he also won gold in the sprint relay.

1949
The golfer who lost the British Open by trying to play his way out of a broken bottle. Harry Bradshaw was a hearty Irishman with a good record despite a weird grip and flat swing. He shot the best score in the qualifying rounds for the 1949 Open and had a real chance of winning the Claret Jug itself. But at the fifth hole in the second round, he hit a sand wedge into the rough, where the ball came to rest in some broken glass. All Bradshaw had to do was wait for an official to arrive, then take a free drop. Instead he took a beefy swing, sending glass everywhere (he was lucky that a fragment hit his eye without damaging it) but the ball only about twenty feet. Instead of a four, he took a six. After four rounds, he was level with 'Bobby' Locke, who thrashed him by 12 shots in the play-off. Locke won the Open again the following year and four times in all. Genial Harry never came so close again.

British golfer Reg Whitcombe was 40 by the time he won the British Open in 1938
. In the absence of the top Americans, he still did well to beat defending champion Henry Cotton, who'd beaten him into second place the previous year. Cotton gained four shots on him in the last round today - but it was only good enough for third place. Whitcombe could afford to shoot 78, the same as Jimmy Adams, who finished second, two strokes behind.

1912
Hannes Kolehmainen, the forerunner of the great 'Flying Finns', won the first of his four Olympic gold medals. In the inaugural 10,000 metres, he made light of the heat by finishing 45 seconds ahead of silver medallist Lewis Tewanima, who was a Hopi Indian. Within a week, Kolehmainen won further golds in the 5,000 metres and cross-country. Albin Stenroos, who finished third in the 10,000, followed Kolehmainen as Olympic Marathon champion in 1924 (13 July).

On the same track in 1912, brilliant young 'Ted' Meredith (born 14 November 1891) won the Olympic 800 metres. He pipped defending champion Mel Sheppard only by breaking the world record Sheppard had set in winning the race in 1908. They teamed up to win gold in the 4x400 metre relay.

The 1912 high jump was won by Alma Richards, a gawky young Mormon from Utah, who set an Olympic record of 1.93 metres to beat world record holder George Horine into third place.

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