|Full name||Frederick John Perry|
|Country (sports)||Great Britain|
|Born||18 May 1909|
Portwood, Stockport, England
|Died||2 February 1995 (aged 85)|
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Height||6 ft (1.83 m)|
|Turned pro||1936 (amateur tour from 1929)|
|Plays||Right-handed (one-handed backhand)|
|Int. Tennis HoF||1975 (member page)|
|Career record||608-239 (71.7%) |
|Career titles||55 |
|Highest ranking||No. 1 (1934, A. Wallis Myers)|
|Grand Slam Singles results|
|Australian Open||W (1934)|
|French Open||W (1935)|
|Wimbledon||W (1934, 1935, 1936)|
|US Open||W (1933, 1934, 1936)|
|US Pro||W (1938, 1941)|
|Wembley Pro||QF (1951, 1952)|
|Grand Slam Doubles results|
|Australian Open||W (1934)|
|French Open||W (1933)|
|Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results|
|French Open||W (1932)|
|Wimbledon||W (1935, 1936)|
|US Open||W (1932)|
|Davis Cup||W (1933, 1934, 1935, 1936)|
Frederick 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 Slam tournaments 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 1939. 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 1909 in Stockport, 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 (MP) 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.
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.
In the Davis Cup, Perry led the Great Britain team to four consecutive victories from 1933 to 1936, with wins over France in 1933, the United States in 1934 and 1935, and Australia in 1936. Perry competed in a total of 20 Davis Cup matches, winning 34 of his 38 rubbers in singles, and 11 out of 14 in doubles.
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.
Fred Perry had a long career as a tennis broadcaster. He worked as a summariser and reporter for BBC Radio from 1959 to 1994 and for many years was a familiar voice during BBC radio's coverage of Wimbledon. He also commentated on TV on the BBC from 1951 to 1952 and ITV's coverage of Wimbledon from 1956 to 1968, after which ITV stopped broadcasting the championships. ITV "employed me as a would-be counter-attraction to my old friend Dan Maskell on BBC Television. We were simply not able to compete and I wasn't unhappy when ITV gave it up as a bad job. The BBC had two channels to ITV's one, and were not inhibited by commercial breaks every fifteen minutes and the imposition of a strict time limit on the coverage, as ITV was", explained Perry in his autobiography. In later years, Perry was sometimes interviewed by BBC Television during their Wimbledon coverage. In 1979 Perry spoke to Des Lynam at Wimbledon about his life in an episode of the TV series "Maestro". The programme was shown again as a tribute after his death.
Perry was one of the leading bachelors of the 1930s and his off-court romances were reported in the world press. Perry had a romantic relationship with actress Marlene Dietrich and in 1934 he announced his engagement to British actress Mary Lawson, but the relationship fell apart after Perry moved to the US. In 1935 he married American film star Helen Vinson, but their marriage ended in divorce in 1940. In 1941 he was briefly married to model Sandra Breaux. Then, in 1945, he married Lorraine Walsh, but that marriage also ended quickly. Perry's final marriage to Barbara Riese (the sister of actress Patricia Roc) in 1952 lasted over forty years, until his death. They had two children, Penny and David. David led his father's clothing line prior to a buyout.
In July 1937, an England vs America pro-celebrity tennis doubles match was organized, featuring Perry and Charlie Chaplin playing against Groucho Marx and Ellsworth Vines, to open the new clubhouse at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club.
Perry is considered by some to have been one of the greatest players ever to have played the game. In his 1979 autobiography Jack Kramer, the long-time tennis promoter and great player himself, called Perry one of the six greatest players of all time.
Kings of the Court, a video-tape documentary made in 1997 in conjunction with the International Tennis Hall of Fame, named Perry one of the ten greatest players of all time. But this documentary only considered those players who played before the Open era of tennis that began in 1968, with the exception of Rod Laver, who spanned both eras, so that all of the more recent great players are missing.
Kramer, however, had several caveats about Perry. He says that Bill Tilden once called Perry "the world's worst good player". Kramer says that Perry was "extremely fast; he had a hard body with sharp reflexes, and he could hit a forehand with a snap, slamming it on the rise--and even on the fastest grass. That shot was nearly as good as Segura's two-handed forehand." His only real weakness, says Kramer, "was his backhand. Perry hit underslice off that wing about 90 % of the time, and eventually at the very top levels--against Vines and Budge--that was what did him in. Whenever an opponent would make an especially good shot, Perry would cry out 'Very clevah.' I never played Fred competitively, but I heard enough from other guys that 'Very clevah' drove a lot of opponents crazy."
Perry, however, recalled his days on the professional tour differently. He maintained that "there was never any easing up in his tour matches with Ellsworth Vines and Bill Tilden since there was the title of World Pro Champion at stake." He said "I must have played Vines in something like 350 matches, yet there was never any fixing as most people thought. There were always people willing to believe that our pro matches weren't strictly on the level, that they were just exhibitions. But as far as we were concerned, we always gave everything we had."
Another comment from Kramer is that Perry unwittingly "screwed up men's tennis in England, although this wasn't his fault. The way he could hit a forehand--snap it off like a ping-pong shot--Perry was a physical freak. Nobody else could be taught to hit a shot that way. But the kids over there copied Perry's style, and it ruined them. Even after Perry faded out of the picture, the coaches there must have kept using him as a model."
In the late 1940s, Perry was approached by Tibby Wegner, an Austrian footballer who had invented an anti-perspirant device worn around the wrist. Perry made a few changes to create the first sweatband.
Wegner's next idea was to produce a sports shirt, which was to be made from white knitted cotton pique with short sleeves and a buttoned placket like René Lacoste's shirts. Launched at Wimbledon in 1952, the Fred Perry tennis shirt was an immediate success. Initially it was only available in two colours - white and black. The brand's logo is a laurel wreath. It was based on the original symbol for Wimbledon. The logo, which appears on the left breast of Fred Perry garments, is stitched into the fabric of the shirt.
The white tennis shirt was supplemented in the late 1950s with coloured versions for table tennis, in which white shirts are not allowed. These became popular in the 1960s as a symbol of mod culture. The brand had been associated with skinheads and the National Front in the 1970s. In France, the brand is popular with both the far-right and far-left.
The brand was initially run by the Perry family, namely his son David, until it was bought by Japanese company Hit Union in 1995. However, the Perry family continued to work closely with the brand, keeping Fred's legacy alive.
In September 2020, Perry stopped selling its black and yellow polo shirts across North America after they became the "unofficial uniform" of the far-right organisation, the Proud Boys, and called on Proud Boys members to stop wearing their clothing.
A bronze statue of Fred Perry was erected at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, London, in 1984 to mark the 50th anniversary of his first singles championship. It is located at the Church Road gate.
Perry's home town of Stockport has numerous memorials to the former tennis champion. For instance there is a blue plaque commemorating the house where he was born. In September 2002, a designated walking route called the Fred Perry Way was opened through the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport. The 14 miles (23 km) route from Woodford in the south to Reddish in the north, combines rural footpaths, quiet lanes and river valleys with urban landscapes and parklands. Features along the route include Houldsworth Mill and Square, the start of the River Mersey at the confluence of the River Tame and River Goyt, Stockport Town Centre, Vernon and Woodbank Parks and the Happy Valley. The route also passes through Woodbank Park, where Perry played some exhibition tennis matches.
In November 2010, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and John Perry, Fred Perry's grandson, opened Fred Perry House in Stockport. The building, which is the borough's new civic headquarters, will be used by various local government agencies. In June 2012, an English Heritage blue plaque was unveiled on the house at 223 Pitshanger Lane, Ealing, London, where Perry lived between 1919 and 1935.
|Win||1933||U.S. Championships||Grass||Jack Crawford||6-3, 11-13, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1|
|Win||1934||Australian Championships||Grass||Jack Crawford||6-3, 7-5, 6-1|
|Win||1934||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Jack Crawford||6-3, 6-0, 7-5|
|Win||1934||U.S. Championships (2)||Grass||Wilmer Allison||6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 1-6, 8-6|
|Loss||1935||Australian Championships||Grass||Jack Crawford||6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 4-6|
|Win||1935||French Championships||Clay||Gottfried von Cramm||6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3|
|Win||1935||Wimbledon Championships (2)||Grass||Gottfried von Cramm||6-2, 6-4, 6-4|
|Loss||1936||French Championships||Clay||Gottfried von Cramm||0-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2, 0-6|
|Win||1936||Wimbledon Championships (3)||Grass||Gottfried von Cramm||6-1, 6-1, 6-0|
|Win||1936||U.S. Championships (3)||Grass||Don Budge||2-6, 6-2, 8-6, 1-6, 10-8|
|Loss||1932||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Pat Hughes|| Jean Borotra
|6-0, 4-6, 3-6, 7-5, 7-5|
|Win||1933||French Championships||Clay||Pat Hughes|| Vivian McGrath
|6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5|
|Win||1934||Australian Championships||Grass||Pat Hughes|| Adrian Quist
|6-8, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3|
|Loss||1935||Australian Championships||Grass||Pat Hughes|| Jack Crawford
|6-4, 8-6, 6-2|
|Win||1932||French Championships||Clay||Betty Nuthall|| Helen Wills Moody
|Win||1932||U.S. Championships||Grass||Sarah Palfrey Cooke|| Helen Jacobs
|Loss||1933||French Championships||Clay||Betty Nuthall|| Margaret Scriven-Vivian
|Win||1935||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Dorothy Round|| Nell Hall Hopman
|7-5, 4-6, 6-2|
|Win||1936||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Dorothy Round|| Sarah Palfrey Cooke
|7-9, 7-5, 6-4|
|Win||1938||US Pro||Indoor||Bruce Barnes||6-3, 6-2, 6-4|
|Loss||1939||US Pro||Hard||Ellsworth Vines||6-8, 8-6, 1-6, 18-20|
|Loss||1940||US Pro||Clay||Don Budge||3-6, 7-5, 4-6, 3-6|
|Win||1941||US Pro||Clay||Dick Skeen||6-4, 6-8, 6-2, 6-3|
Fred Perry joined professional tennis in 1937 and was unable to compete in the Grand Slams tournaments.
|Tournament||Amateur career||Professional career||SR||W-L||Win %|
|Grand Slam tournaments:||8 / 23||101-15||87.07|
|Australian||A||A||A||A||A||W||F||A||A||A||A||A||Not held||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||1 / 2||9-1||90.00|
|French||A||A||4R||QF||QF||QF||W||F||A||A||A||Not held||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||1 / 6||22-5||81.48|
|Wimbledon||3R||4R||SF||QF||2R||W||W||W||A||A||A||Not held||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||3 / 8||36-5||87.80|
|U.S.||A||4R||SF||4R||W||W||SF||W||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||3 / 7||34-4||89.47|
|Pro Slam tournaments:||2 / 11||19-9||67.86|
|U.S. Pro||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||W||F||F||W||A||A||NH||A||QF||QF||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||QF||A||A||1R||1R||2 / 9||17-7||70.83|
|French Pro||NH||A||A||A||NH||A||A||A||A||A||A||Not held||A||NH||A||A||0 / 0||0-0||N/A|
|Not held||A||A||NH||A||NH||A||Not held||A||A||QF||QF||A||NH||A||A||A||A||0 / 2||2-2||50.00|