Fred Perry Knocked Unconscious By A Tennis Ball | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


‘Tennis Ball Knocks Perry Unconscious’ – 1936, An Eventful Year for Fred Perry

Fred Perry was of course one of the greatest players in tennis history, having won three consecutive Wimbledons from 1934 to 1936. He was the last British winner of Wimbledon until Andy Murray’s victory in 2013.

Fred Perry ‘delivering a characteristic vigorous smash’ during the 1936 Wimbledon | The Sphere | 27 June 1936

However, despite his third (and final) Wimbledon victory in 1936, he was the victim of an unfortunate accident whilst playing an exhibition match a couple months before in Hungary.

According to the Western Daily Press, ‘F. J. Perry, the British lawn tennis champion, was struck on the head and rendered unconscious by a tennis ball during an exhibition doubles match organised by the Hungarian LTF.’

Western Daily Press | 16 April 1936

He was partnered with Hungarian player E Ferenezy, when he was hit on the temple ‘by a terrific drive from Szigeti,’ another Hungarian player on the opposing team.

As with footballs, tennis balls were much heavier back in the 1930s, and so ‘Perry fell like a stone in a dead faint. He was carried to the side of the court, and after a short while recovered.’

Despite this injury Perry ‘insisted on resuming,’ which the Western Daily Press labelled as an ‘exhibition of British sportsmanship.’ But the injury must have taken an ill effect, and Perry and his partner eventually went on to lose the match.

But Perry did not go on to lose Wimbledon, beating Gottfried von Cramm in straight sets in the final.

von Cramm & Perry | The Bystander | 8 July 1936

However, in that same year of 1936, Perry went on to label tennis ‘sheer boredom,’ as reported in the Birmingham Daily Gazette. He had become disillusioned with the class conscious nature of the game in Britain, and so he emigrated to the United States, where he became an American citizen, and eventually opened his eponymous clothing line.

Birmingham Daily Gazette | 2 September 1936


Read some of the other historical newspaper stories about Wimbledon that we’ve been posting on the blog.



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