Sarah Virginia Wade, (born 10 July 1945) is a former professional tennis
player from Great Britain. She won three Major tennis singles championships and four Major doubles championships, and is the only British woman in history to have won titles at all four Majors. She was ranked as high as No. 2 in the world in singles, and No. 1 in the world in doubles.
Three times a Major singles champion, her most famous success was winning Wimbledon
on 1 July 1977, the tournament's centenary year, and the year of the Silver Jubilee
of Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen attended Wimbledon for the first time since 1962 to watch the final. Wade was the last British tennis player to have won a Major singles tournament until Andy Murray
won the US Open in 2012. She remains the most recent British woman to have won a Major singles title. After retiring from competitive tennis, she coached for four years and has also worked as a tennis commentator and game analyst for the BBC
Wade was born in Bournemouth
, England on 10 July 1945. Her father was the archdeacon of Durban
At age one, Wade moved to South Africa with her parents. In South Africa, Wade learned to play tennis. When Wade was 15, the family moved back to England and she went to Tunbridge Wells Girls' Grammar School
and Talbot Heath School
, Bournemouth. In 1961 Wade was in the tennis team of Wimbledon County Girls' Grammar School. She went on to study mathematics and physics at the University of Sussex
, graduating in 1966.
Wade's tennis career spanned the end of the amateur era and the start of the open era
. In 1968, she scored two notable firsts. As an amateur, she won the inaugural open tennis competition – the British Hard Court Open at Bournemouth. She turned down the US$720 first prize. Five months later, she had turned professional and won the women's singles championship at the first US Open
(and prize-money of $6,000 - $ today), defeating Billie Jean King
in the final.
Wade's second Major tennis singles championship came in 1972 at the Australian Open
. There, she defeated the Australian Evonne Goolagong
in the final 6–4, 6–4. Wade was appointed a member of the Order of the British Empire
(MBE) in the 1973 Birthday Honours
for services to lawn tennis.
Wade won Wimbledon
in 1977. It was the 16th year in which Wade had played at Wimbledon, and she made her first appearance in the final by beating the defending champion Chris Evert
in a semifinal 6–2, 4–6, 6–1. In the final, she beat Betty Stöve
in three sets to claim the championship, nine days before her 32nd birthday. Not only was 1977 the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Wimbledon Championships, but it was the Silver Jubilee
year of Elizabeth II
, who attended Wimbledon for the first time since 1962 to watch the final.
She was the subject of ''This Is Your Life
'' in December 1977 when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews
at the National Sports Stadium at London's Crystal Palace.
Wade also won four Major women's doubles championships with Margaret Smith Court
– two of them at the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, one at the Australian Open
, and one at the French Open
Over her career, Wade won 55 professional singles championships and amassed $1,542,278 dollars in career prize money. She was ranked in the world's top 10 continuously from 1967 to 1979. Her career spanned a total of 26 years. She retired from singles competition at the end of the 1985 tennis season, and then from doubles at the end of 1986.
In 1983, at the age of 37, she won the Italian Open
women's doubles championship with Virginia Ruzici
The 26 times that Wade played at Wimbledon is an all-time record, 24 of those times being in the women's singles.
Since 1981, while she was still playing, Wade has been a reporter on tennis events for the BBC
In 1982, she became the first woman to be elected to the Wimbledon Committee.
Wade was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1986 Birthday Honours
for services to lawn tennis.
In 1989, Wade was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame
in Newport, Rhode Island.
Wade now lives in the U.S. with her actress partner Marylou Mellace keeps a cottage and the family home in Kent.
Grand Slam finals
Singles: 3 (3 titles)
Women's doubles: 10 (4 titles, 6 runners-up)
Year-end championships finals
Doubles: 2 (1 title, 1 runner–up)
Singles titles (55)
:''Bold type indicates a Major championship''
*1968 – US Open
, Bloemfontein, Bournemouth, East London, Dewar Cup-Crystal Palace
*1969 – Cape Town, Hoylake, Dewar-Perth, Dewar-Stalybridge, Dewar-Aberavon, Dewar-Crystal Palace, East London
*1970 – German Indoors, West Berlin Open, Irish Open, Stalybridge, Aberavon
*1971 – Cape Town, Catania Open, Rome, Newport-Wales, Cincinnati
, Dewar-Billingham, Dewar-Aberavon, Dewar Cup Final-London, Clean Air Classic
*1972 – Australian Open
, VS Indoors-Mass., Merion, Buenos Aires
*1973 – Dallas, Bournemouth, Dewar-Aberavon, Dewar-Edinburgh, Dewar-Billingham, Dewar Cup Final-Albert Hall
*1974 – VS Chicago
, VS Phoenix, Dewar-Edinburgh, Dewar Cup-London
*1975 – VS Dallas, VS Philadelphia
, Paris Indoors, Eastbourne, Dewar Cup, Stockholm
*1976 – U.S. Indoor Championships
, Dewar Cup
*1977 – Wimbledon
, World Invitational Hilton Head, Tokyo Sillook
*1978 – Mahwah
, Tokyo Sillook, Florida Open
Major singles performance timeline
Note: The Australian Open was held twice in 1977, in January and December.
* Performance timelines for all female tennis players who reached at least one Grand Slam final
Virginia Wade's appearance on This Is Your Life
Category:Alumni of the University of Sussex
Category:Australian Open (tennis) champions
Category:BBC Sports Personality of the Year winners
Category:British expatriates in South Africa
Category:British female tennis players
Category:English female tennis players
Category:English sports broadcasters
Category:English sports coaches
Category:English tennis coaches
Category:French Open champions
Category:Grand Slam (tennis) champions in women's doubles
Category:Grand Slam (tennis) champions in women's singles
Category:International Tennis Hall of Fame inductees
Category:Officers of the Order of the British Empire
Category:People educated at Talbot Heath School
Category:People educated at Tunbridge Wells Girls' Grammar School
Category:Sportspeople from Bournemouth
Category:Sportspeople from Durban
Category:US Open (tennis) champions