rederick John Perry (18 May 1909 – 2 February 1995) was a British tennis and table tennis player and former World No. 1 from England who won 10 Majors including eight Grand Slams and two Pro Slams single titles, as well as six Major doubles titles. Perry won three consecutive Wimbledon Championships from 1934 to 1936 and was World Amateur number one tennis player during those three years. Prior to Andy Murray in 2013, Perry was the last British player to win the men's Wimbledon championship, in 1936, and the last British player to win a men's singles Grand Slam title, until Andy Murray won the 2012 US Open.
Perry was the first player to win a "Career Grand Slam", winning all four singles titles, which he completed at the age of 26 at the 1935 French Open. He remains the only British player ever to achieve this. Perry's first love was table tennis and he was World Champion in 1929. He began playing tennis aged 14 and his tennis career at 21, when in 1930 an LTA committee chose him to join a four-man team to tour the United States.
In 1933, Perry helped lead the Great Britain team to victory over France in the Davis Cup; the team's first success since 1912, followed by wins over the United States in 1934, 1935, and a fourth consecutive title with victory over Australia in 1936. But due to his disillusionment with the class-conscious nature of the Lawn Tennis Club of Great Britain, the working-class Perry turned professional at the end of the 1936 season and moved to the United States where he became a naturalised US citizen in 1938. In 1942, he was drafted into the US Army Air Force during the Second World War.
Despite his unprecedented contribution to British tennis, Perry was not accorded full recognition by tennis authorities until later in life because between 1927 and 1967, the International Lawn Tennis Federation, ignored amateur champions who later turned professional. In 1984, a statue of Perry was unveiled at Wimbledon, and in the same year he became the only tennis player listed in a survey of 2,000 Britons to find the "Best of the Best" British sportsmen of the 20th century.
Perry was born in Stockport, in 1909 where his father, Samuel Perry (1877–1954), was a cotton spinner. For the first decade of his life, he also lived in Bolton, Lancashire, and Wallasey, Cheshire, because his father was involved in local politics. When living in Wallasey he attended Liscard Primary School and Wallasey Grammar School. Perry moved to Brentham Garden Suburb in Ealing, west London aged eleven years when his father became the national secretary of the Co-operative Party after World War I. His father became the Labour and Co-operative Party Member of Parliament for Kettering in 1929.
Perry first began to play tennis on the public courts near his family's housing estate. He was educated at Ealing Grammar School for Boys.
In 1928–29 Perry won several medals in the single, double and team events in the World Table Tennis Championships. He had exceptional speed and played with the Shakehand style, attacking the ball low and on the rise.
Along with the US, French and Australian Amateur championships, Perry won the Wimbledon men's title three times in succession between 1934 and 1936. His final triumph was a 6–1, 6–1, 6–0 victory over the German Baron Gottfried von Cramm which lasted less than 45 minutes. It became the quickest final in the 20th century and the second shortest of all time. Perry had been able to pick up the information from the Wimbledon masseur that von Cramm had been treated for a groin strain and was as a result having difficulty moving wide on the forehand. During his amateur playing career he trained with Arsenal football club to focus on his fitness.
Fred Perry (right) with Pat Hughes at White City in Sydney, Australia in 1934
Perry's success attracted the adoration of the crowds at Wimbledon particularly as he contrasted sharply with the privileged background of most patrons and players associated with the All England Club at the time. The upper echelons of the British tennis establishment greeted his success more coolly, regarding him as an "upstart". After winning his maiden Wimbledon title, Perry recalled overhearing a Wimbledon committee member remark that "the best man didn't win." His All England Club member's tie, awarded to all winners of the Championships, was left for him on a chair in his dressing room.
After three years as the world No. 1 tennis amateur player, Perry turned professional in late 1936. This led to his being virtually ostracised by the British tennis establishment. He made his professional debut on 6 January 1937 at the Madison Square Garden against the best professional player, Ellsworth Vines, winning in four sets. For the next two years he played lengthy tours against Vines. In 1937, they played 61 matches in the United States on their big tour, with Vines winning 32 and Perry 29. They then sailed to Britain, where they played a brief tour. Perry won six matches out of nine, so they finished the year tied at 35 victories each. The following year, 1938, the big tour was even longer, and this time Vines beat Perry 49 matches to 35, while a short tour of the Caribbean and Central and South America ended at four victories a piece. Don Budge won the Grand Slam in 1938 as an amateur and then turned professional and played a series of matches against both Vines and Perry in 1939, beating Vines 22 times to 17, and beating Perry by 28 victories to 8.
Perry also won the US Pro title in 1938 and 1941, held in Chicago in both those years.
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