Frederick John “Fred” Perry was a championship-winning English tennis and table tennis player who won 10 Majors including eight Grand Slams and two Pro Slams single titles. In addition he won 6 Major doubles titles. Britain in the 1930’s dominated the world of tennis on lawn. But he was a tennis champion that was an example of social prejudice. His fans did not like him at all due to his background. It seems that reaching the top for the history makers of the past, they have many things in common, social discrimination at its best is a global curse.
Journalists watching him defeat the Australian Jack Crawford to lift the Wimbledon crown in 1934 commented on the “strange lack of excitement” among spectators, and one American magazine went as far as to say: “Perry is not a popular champion at home”. In an incident that rankled for the rest of his life, Perry’s elation at taking the title turned to anger when he overheard a Wimbledon committee member saying to Crawford in the dressing room after the final that this was one day “when the best man didn’t win”.
But Fred was a man who played his own game both on and off the court. His abrasiveness and refusal to “let people tell me what to do or order me about” made him enemies in tennis circles. Players in the 1930s were expected to behave with decorum; ‘gentleman Jack Crawford’ was known for his exemplary court manners. Fred Perry, by contrast, possessed a ruthless streak, refused to conceal his ambition and indulged in gamesmanship such as making offensive personal remarks to opponents.
Despite dominating the world scene he offended the sensibilities of well-to-do Wimbledon spectators because his court persona was so much at odds with the ethos of the day. The underlining frustration that mattered to Fred is at the time, tennis remained firmly wedded to amateur principles. The idea that the game should be played for pleasure not profit – and in the right spirit – had been rigorously enforced since the Victorian period by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). So he left Britain and went to the USA to cash in on his talent. The consequences of his action lead to Perry being a sporting outcast in his homeland. He was relieved of his honorary membership of the prestigious All England Club – awarded to him as Wimbledon champion – and when his professional tour visited Britain he was barred from appearing on the courts of any LTA-affiliated club.
Britain’s Best Ever Tennis Player That One Could Not Ignore
The proof is always in the pudding in this case on the tennis courts around the world. It was only towards the end of his life that reconciliation became complete. The same bodies that once shunned him were ever more anxious to honour Perry, in part because his reputation soared as the years passed in which no British man was able to match his success. His appreciation of the unveiling of the statue in 1984 was enhanced when the All England Club chairman said he hoped that Fred agreed Wimbledon was “today the most hospitable of clubs”, in contrast to the unfriendliness of earlier times.
Be just like Fred Perry who played in clothes that Fred Astaire would have danced in. A pure class act on that lives on today. Fred Perry’s style still lives on in his own clothing line.