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