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Throwback Thursday: Emerson and Court sweep 1965

Roy Emerson at Wimbledon
by Leigh Walsh
Thursday 8 May 2014

Our Throwback Thursday series continues as Wimbledon.com recaps a rewarding year for Australians in 1965...

“Nowadays it seems a waste of time to come onto Centre Court unless you’re an Aussie.”

Those were the words uttered by the British Pathe commentator watching on as Margaret Court and Roy Emerson gave Australia a clean sweep of the Wimbledon singles titles in 1965.

He had a point.

At the time, the Australians were enjoying a golden era at the top of the tennis pyramid and the All England Club had become a playground for the country’s leading players.

Each summer, the Aussies would take the near 20,000-mile round trip from the homeland to London, but travel sickness was never an issue for the trophy hungry travellers.

In the 16-year period from 1956-71, the Gentlemen’s Singles Championship was won 13 times by Australian men, while their female counterparts laid claim to four singles titles in the same time frame.  

Their standout stars at the time read like a who’s who of tennis legends: Rod Laver, Margaret Court, Roy Emerson, John Newcombe, Ken Rosewall, Neale Fraser, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Lew Hoad, Ashley Cooper ... the list goes on. 

In 1965, however, it was Court and Emerson who led the way at SW19.

Court, who won 24 Grand Slam singles, 19 doubles and 19 mixed doubles titles over the course of a decorated career, arrived that year having won the first of her three Wimbledon titles in 1963. The big serving right-hander was seeded No. 2, with defending champion Maria Bueno taking her place at the top of the draw.

Court, or “The Arm” as Billie Jean King referred to her, moved through the draw with consummate ease, dropping just 12 games en route to the final where, as anticipated, she crossed paths with Bueno.

The Brazilian youngster, who often drew comparisons to the great Suzanne Lenglen, had already tasted success at The Championships in 1959, ‘60 and ‘64. Her all-court game, fluid movement and elegant strokes drew praise from all four corners of the world, but when she came up against Court, Bueno had no answers to the Aussies’ brand of attacking tennis.

The 6-4, 7-5 win for Court, who was referred to by her maiden name Smith at the time, set the stage for Emerson to complete the sweep.

The wet weather did little to dampen Emerson’s streak in the opening week as he reached the fourth round without dropping a set. His opponent in the last 16, fellow Aussie Ken Fletcher, managed to take a set off him, as did his opponents in the quarter-final, Keith Diepraam, and semi-final, Dennis Ralston.

With a fluid serve and an athletic six-foot frame – considered tall in those days – Emerson took the game to his countryman Fred Stolle in the final, just like he had done the previous year. Emerson, or “Emmo” as he was known, cruised to a straight sets victory, emerging victorious at Wimbledon for the second time in as many years.

It was Stolle’s third consecutive loss in the final at Wimbledon – a title that eluded him during his career. 

N. E. Brookes, A. W. Dunlop and B. Murphy were the first Australian visitors to Wimbledon in 1905. Since then, Wimbledon has seen 26 singles titles won by players from Down Under – 21 men (third only to the USA and the British Isles) and five women, with Lleyton Hewitt (2002) and Goolagong Cawley (1980) the last of their kind. 

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