Game, Set, Match – Part 1 (1930’s to 1970’s)

The sport of tennis has been played for hundred’s of years, but the game as it is known today is about 130 years old.  With the Wimbledon finals coming up this Sunday, here’s a look at the game’s style evolution across the generations.

1930’s Henry “Bunny” Austin.   The British star was one of the first players ever to appear in shorts, he had movie star looks and a movie star wife, Phyllis Konstam, one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most beautiful leading ladies.  Austin’s fame in the 1930s was comparable with that of David Beckham today.

1940’s Jack Kramer.  American tennis star Jack Kramer was arguably the most multi-faceted man tennis has ever known, contributing to the sport on virtually every conceivable level, demonstrating high intelligence on and off the court and becoming a singularly influential individual on a wide range of fronts.  Above all else, Kramer was a towering champion, capturing his native US Championship twice at Forest Hills in 1946 and 1947 and winning Wimbledon with an awesome brand of power and aggression in 1947.

1950’s Lew Hoad.  Lew Hoad (1934-1994), tennis champion, was born in Sydney.  This photograph shows him playing in the Davis Cup at White City in 1955. The following year, he won the Wimbledon, French and Australian singles titles, but was prevented from winning the Grand Slam by his compatriot and ‘tennis twin’ Ken Rosewall in the final of the US Open. He won the Wimbledon doubles titles in 1953, 1955 and 1956 and the singles title again in 1957.

1960’s Rod Laver.  Laver dominated at a time when Ken Rosewall, Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe, Tony Roche, Pancho Gonzales, Lew Hoad and other top players were competing, so he proved himself against the best.   And as soon as the majors became open to professionals, Laver’s dominance was re-confirmed.    He won the first open Wimbledon in 1968, then won his second Grand Slam the following year.

The Adidas Originals Rod Laver today is one of the most popular tennis shoes ever … first developed in 1970 with the cooperation of tennis great. Kicks don’t get any more classic than this. Perfect with jeans, khakis or shorts these are a must have for any sneaker aficionado.

1970’s Jimmy Connors & Bjorn Borg.  Jimmy Connors won 109 titles (including eight Grand Slams) and, along with fellow gutty athlete/total jerk John McEnroe, actually got America excited about white men in tiny shorts hitting yellow balls.  Whoa – check out that hairstyle that Jimmy sported back then.

Bjorn Borg …  What is not to love about Bjorn Borg?  A mop of blond hair  and the awesome Fila uniforms, his tennis game was impeccable. Perfect mechanics of the sport, absolute precision and the placement of his shots, he was at the top of his game in the 70s and 80s.  Wimbledon was always a delight with his presence.

1980’s to 2000’s to follow in Part 2 … stay tuned.

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