Andy Murray Wins Wimbledon

Andy Murray: Totally NOT the First Brit to Win Wimbledon in 77 Years

I owe Andy Murray an apology.

Once, a while back (perhaps a couple of years ago) I called him “whiny”.  I did this publicly on Twitter.  I apologize, Andy.  You are not whiny.  You are AWESOME!  CONGRATULATIONS!!

Andy Murray has gotten a lot more kick-butt lately.  He’s matured as a human being and as a tennis player, and that is why Virginia Wade and #Wimbledon2013 are this week’s Twitter hashtag of the week!

“Huh?! Who is Virginia Wade and what does she have to do with Andy Murray” you ask?  Lemme ‘splain.

According to Passnotes (“a humorous Q&A about a news issue of the day”) on the Guardian’s website, the Times, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail (major periodicals in the UK) all published headlines about Murray being the first Brit to win at Wimbledon in 77 years, since Fred Perry won it back in 1936.

WRONG!

Virginia Wade Wimbledon
Virginia Wade holding the Wimbledon trophy on July 1st, 1977

Virginia Wade was the last Brit to win at Wimbledon!  That’s right!  She did it back in 1977!

Perhaps we could give these publications the benefit of the doubt and say that they confused “1977” with “77”, but then their lines about “77-year wait” and “after 77 years” wouldn’t make sense anymore.

Well this is awkward.

Wade is now almost 68 years old (her birthday is coming up on July 10th!), but back in 1977 she was a tennis champion who had previously won the US and Australian Opens.

Not only that, but before her, Britain’s Dorothy Round Little won the women’s title at Wimbledon (1937), so did Angela Mortimer (1961) and Ann Haydon-Jones (1969).

But let us be clear: Because the men’s singles bring in more viewers, sponsors and cash, and because men’s tennis is so much more, well, legit (they actually play 5 whole sets, as opposed to the ladies), the fact that Andy Murray is the first British man to win at Wimbledon in 77 years is more important than Wade’s victory in 1977.

Andy Murray Wins Wimbledon
This is cool. But he’s not the first Brit in 77 years to do it.

Right?

Sadly, so it would seem.

Now, I want to be clear: I do not, in any way, want to diminish Murray’s victory.  He beat Djokovic in an INCREDIBLE final match, and he deserves to revel in his achievement.

But it does not follow that Wade’s victory 36 years ago should be passed over or forgotten merely for the sake of a dramatic headline.  It’s still pretty awesome that Murray is the first Brit to win at Wimbledon in 36 years!  Don’t you think that 36 years is a long enough dry spell?

Okay, okay, call me a feminazi if you want to.  Call me a parade-rainer, a party pooper, or whatever.  Honestly, I didn’t know about Virginia Wade myself until today.  I had heard, like everyone else, that Britain had not had a Wimbledon champion in many long years.

That’s why I’m writing this article, and it’s why I hope you will share.  Because it’s important to remember Virginia Wade, and to celebrate the ladies like the Williams sisters, Sharapova, Bartoli and all the other amazing lady tennis players out there.

Cheers, ladies!

Jane

The Brain In Jane works mainly in the rain. It's always raining somewhere. Find me on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

4 thoughts to “Andy Murray: Totally NOT the First Brit to Win Wimbledon in 77 Years”

  1. Hi, I don’t think you need to fear being accused of being a “feminazi” or not acknowledging Murray’s tennis abilities (I think he will be pretty sure now of his abilities!!). To me, you are pointing out a disturbing truth about the dominant voices in contemporary media which was reflected clearly in the recent reporting of the wimbledon championships. The reporting has exposed a widely-held assumption that sports events are about men primarily and women secondarily in media people’s mind. The headlines about Murray’s “victory” has revealed a usually masked sexism, clearly unmasked. And, as a woman, I feel quite disturbed, outraged, unsettled and disheartened by the overlooking of “woman as champion”. Thank you for taking the time to write about this incident of media reporting. No apologies needed!

  2. I clearly remember Virginia’s victory. We were driving around Ireland in a rental car when the news came on the radio. It was delightful to hear, “Virginia Wade will have tea with the Queen!”

  3. I think this article a bit pathetic. I follow tennis and frankly have never heard Murray described as the first BRIT to win, only as the first British male tennis player to win since Fred Perry. That achievement deserves recognition. I am female, and I find Virginia Wade very antiquated in many of her current views and generally pretty unsupportive. Its strange she had criticised Murray for taking on a female coach and described fellow grand slam winner, Amelie Mauresmo, as mentally fragile. I dont see Wade as a current role model for females, despite winning Wimbledon, or Sharapova as someone to be celebrated either. There are a great many female players out there more deserving.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I believe my article gave Murray appropriate credit for his incredible achievement. It was a fantastic match! As I wrote in my article at the time, the headlines from the Times, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail didn’t specify “British man,” but said Murray was the first “Brit” to win at Wimbledon in 77 years. I also mentioned that I knew very little about Virginia Wade, other than what I had learned in researching the article. I’m bummed to hear she has been unsupportive and antiquated in her ideas. However, I don’t believe I pointed to her has a particular role model in my article. I simply wanted to draw attention to her, and other female tennis players, as the incredible athletes they are.

      Something surfaced about this recently, with John McEnroe making a comment about Serena Williams being the greatest female tennis player in the world, but being only about number 700 when compared to the men. Comments like his, and the headlines I referenced in my article, show how so many people think of the men’s singles as the default norm, and the ladies singles, or the doubles, are not as important or valid. It’s how it is, and I think it’s healthy to acknowledge these biases (which we all have) and push ourselves to think about where they come from.

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