1913, Anthony Wilding: Graceful grand slam

Wimbledon winner Wilding was our greatest tennis player. (NZ Herald Archive)
Wimbledon winner Wilding was our greatest tennis player. (NZ Herald Archive)

Anthony Wilding, the greatest tennis player New Zealand has produced, was at the pinnacle of his powers in this year, winning what was then the grand slam: Wimbledon on grass, Paris on hard court and Stockholm on a covered court.

At Wimbledon he beat the United States' Maurice McLoughlin 8-6, 6-3, 10-8 in a game notable for his sportsmanship as well as his brilliant tennis as the Herald correspondent reported.

"Tennis critics here are almost unanimous in their amazement at the fine game that Wilding played in defence of his title of tennis champion against the Californian challenger. We did not know that Wilding was the fine player he proved himself to be in this match, though this was his fourth consecutive win in the championship.

"McLoughlin admits quite frankly that he was just too good for him.

"The crowd was absolutely fair, and the game was played in a very sporting spirit," said the correspondent.

"There was one pretty incident in the match. Wilding had won a rally in which there was a doubtful stroke, and he wished to allow a 'let'.

"The umpire ruled 'Vantage Wilding' and Wilding shook his head, indicating that he did not wish to claim the stroke. But the umpire insisted, so the game proceeded.

"The next stroke Wilding - deliberately it seemed to the spectators - made a bad shot, and gave the point to his opponent."

For his great victory - and his sporting grace - Anthony Wilding is our New Zealander of the Year.

From the Herald archives:
'Wilding at his zenith', New Zealand Herald, 18 August 1913

'Athlete and soldier: Anthony Wilding's death', New Zealand Herald, 13 May 1915

'The late Anthony Wilding', New Zealand Herald, 17 May 1915

Tributes from 'the English papers', New Zealand Herald, 24 July 1915

'Lawn Tennis: Notes and comments', New Zealand Herald, 8 September 1915

Further reading:
Biography of Anthony Wilding, Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand

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