Even though tennis is a huge part of British culture, the history of British tennis players is somewhat patchy. For many years, British tennis players struggled to perform at the highest levels.
However, this doesn’t mean that British tennis hasn’t had its stars. We’ll look at the newest breakout on the British tennis scene and the historical greats from Great Britain.
As a note, British is a term used to include people who are from any of the three countries located on the Great British landmass – Wales, England, and Scotland.
7. Emma Raducanu
Although this Bromley native only turned pro in 2018, she has quickly risen to the top ranks of British tennis. Nobody expected Raducanu to win the US Open 2021, but she did, and it won’t be the last.
This win made her the first British woman to win a singles Grand Slam since 1977, when Virginia Wade won Wimbledon.
Despite her youth and the interruptions to her career caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Emma has already achieved a level of success that is uncommon amongst British tennis players in the Open Era.
There’s no doubt her upcoming performances will be watched by tennis fans in Britain and beyond. Emma is still very young, and she signals great new things for the future of tennis.
In fact, Emma has been a part of several key finals matches where both participants have still been teenagers. Emma has staked her claim in the future generation of tennis, and we can’t wait to see what that future holds.
6. Christine Truman
Christine has tennis in her genes, and she frequently played doubles with her brother and sister. Additionally, one of her four children, Amanda Keen, was also a professional tennis player.
Between the 1950s to 1970s, Christine Truman was a fixture on the British tennis scene, playing at a high level all over the world. However, she was an incredibly young professional tennis player, becoming the youngest woman ever to win the French Open. That record still stands to this day.
Christine Truman’s tennis career spanned two decades, and she made several Grand Slam finals appearances and won both a singles and doubles Grand Slam.
Christine Truman won the French Open in 1959, and the following year, she won the doubles title at the Australian Open. Although she never won Wimbledon, she did reach the finals of Wimbledon twice (singles, 1961, and doubles, 1959) and came in as the runner-up.
In addition to her Grand Slam appearances, she also repeatedly represented Great Britain in the Wightman Cup, helping lead the team to victory in 1958, 1960, and 1968.
5. Angela Mortimer
Now over 90 years old, Angela Mortimer remains one of the most successful British tennis players of the Open era. In fact, she won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments, only failing to take home the top trophy at the US Open. She went as far as the semifinals at the US Open in 1961 but couldn’t continue on.
She won the French Open in 1955, the Australian Open in 1958, and Wimbledon in 1961. She also won the 1955 Wimbledon doubles tournament. In 1958, she made it to the finals of the Australian Open in both the doubles and mixed doubles.
Much like Christine Truman, Angela Mortimer represented British tennis in the Wightman Cup and was also a member of the 1960 winning team.
While her performance on the court was noteworthy, Angela Mortimer was also making waves for what she was wearing. These days, tennis has become somewhat of a fashion show, but Mortimer was also known for making quite the fashion statement by refusing to play in dresses or skirts. Instead, she only wore shorts, which was unusual during the time period.
4. Ann Haydon-Jones
Originally from Birmingham, England, Ann Haydon-Jones was a champion in both lawn tennis and table tennis. Her parents were professional table tennis players, and as a young woman, Ann Haydon-Jones made the rounds on the table tennis circuit.
However, she picked up a bigger racket and moved outside, eventually coming to be a dominant force within the lawn tennis world. Throughout her lawn tennis career, she won eight Grand Slam titles in a variety of match styles.
She won the French Open two times, in 1961 and 1966. She also won Wimbledon in 1969. Throughout her time winning singles titles, she also won the doubles championship of the French Open in 1963, 1968, and 1969.
In mixed doubles, she won both the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 1969. Despite never winning the French Open’s mixed doubles competition, she did compete in the final in 1960, 1966, and 1967.
This success came in an era of highly competitive women’s tennis, and Ann Haydon-Jones frequently played against some of the best female tennis players in history, such as Margaret Court, Maria Bueno, and Billie Jean King.
3. Fred Perry
Although he was another player who played both table tennis and lawn tennis, Fred Perry dominated the world of lawn tennis during his time as a professional athlete. He’s one of the best British tennis players in history, and his performances were the best in British tennis for quite a long time.
Even to this day, he is the only British player to win all four Grand Slams as a singles player. He won the Australian Open and the French Open in 1934 and 1935, respectively.
Fred Perry had repeat successes at Wimbledon and the US Open. He’s the only British tennis player who won Wimbledon in three successive years (1934, ‘35, ‘36). The year before his first Wimbledon win, he won the US Open, taking the title in 1933, as well as in 1934 and 1936.
Fred Perry’s last Wimbledon title in 1936 marked the last time a British man would win Wimbledon until 2013, when Andy Murray brought the title back to Britain.
Almost eight decades passed before another Brit would win the cherished British tournament, and Andy Murray was a home-grown hero when he brought the Wimbledon trophy back to its homeland.
Fred Perry set the precedent for greatness in British tennis and British sports apparel. In the 1940s, he launched a clothing brand that he named after himself. Fred Perry apparel is mostly aimed at athletes, and they have sponsored Andy Murray since 2009.
2. Virginia Wade
Although Virginia Wade only won three of the Grand Slam singles, she did win titles in all four Grand Slams in either singles or doubles. This doesn’t technically qualify her for the Career Grand Slam, but it does speak to the strength of her tennis game and her prowess on the court.
Singularly, she won the US Open in 1968, the Australian Open in 1972, and Wimbledon in 1977. Twice in here career, she got to the quarterfinals of the French Open (1970 and 1972) but never advanced past that round playing in the singles tournament.
However, in doubles, she won and her partner won the French Open in 1973. They also won the Australian and US Opens in 1973, as well.
Virginia Wade remained the last British tennis player to win a Grand Slam tournament from 1977 until 2012, when Andy Murray won the US Open. She was also the most recent woman to have won a Grand Slam tournament until 2021, when Emma Raducanu won the US Open.
1. Andy Murray
This Glaswegian is the most successful male British tennis player of the Open Era. He also brought Grand Slam wins back to Britain for the first time in decades when he won the US Open in 2012.
Two of his three Grand Slam wins were fought on the famous lawns of Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016. His 2013 win on the world’s most famous grass court made him the first British player to win the men’s singles event since Fred Perry in 1936, defeating Novak Djokovic, who was heavily favored to win.
He also has two Olympic gold medals, which he won in the 2012 London Games and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.