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Wimbledon champion Wade proud and ashamed

Wade, the All England Club's guest of honour on the 30th anniversary of her victory, said: "I am very proud of having won Wimbledon but not proud of the fact that I was the last British person to win."

sports Updated: Jun 29, 2007 18:46 IST
Paul Majendie

Virginia Wade, the last British player to win a grand slam tournament, is both proud and ashamed.

"Nothing, nothing, nothing -- that's not so good," the 1977 Wimbledon champion said after British hopes were dashed for another year at the domestic grand slam when no homegrown player progressed past the second round.

Wade, a BBC commentator and the All England Club's guest of honour on the 30th anniversary of her victory, said: "I am very proud of having won Wimbledon but not proud of the fact that I was the last British person to win."

The last British man to win Wimbledon was Fred Perry in 1936.

Wade, who also won the Australian and U.S. Opens, felt that British tennis lost its way but now finally has the set-up, with the establishment of a new national tennis centre, to produce a steady stream of world-class players.

"Hopefully things are going to happen," Wade told Reuters in a brief break between TV commentary stints. "We probably lost a generation of tennis players," she said.

Wade has a nostalgic soft spot for tennis of old when artistry was everything. She is full of admiration for all round talents such as Roger Federer but is no great fan of today's power game.

"In a lot of matches it is hard to get involved as you cannot distinguish who is on either side of the net as their games are so similar."

She complained that today's power players were obsessed with the need to perfect a booming serve. "If you are a young player, it's easy to get lost."

"You get into this whole routine of just hitting hundreds of thousands, millions of balls from the baseline and you forget to add the other parts of the game."

Wade, who at 61 displays as much passion for the game today as she did on court 30 years ago, capped her career with a Wimbledon triumph in front of Queen Elizabeth in the Queen's silver jubilee year.

She was nearly 32 years old when she finally landed Wimbledon at her 16th attempt.

Wade believes the fairytale came true at long last because she conquered her own worst enemy -- herself.

"I would use all the excuses and crutches. I hated to lose. I was a good fighter but I know I used excuses all the time and I know I lost my cool," she said.

"It's about getting your mind right. It's believing you have the right to win -- that is the biggest issue of all."