Almanac Tennis: Wimbledon 1973 – A lob back over the net


What tender days, we had no secrets hid away
Well, it seemed about a hundred years ago

(‘100 Years Ago’, The Rolling Stones 1973)



Centre Court, Wimbledon 1973


The very informative article on Wimbledon 1973 from Glen! brought back memories from long ago.

I was fortunate to witness a day at Wimbledon in 1973 and can lob the following back over the net.

The Official programme of The Lawn Tennis Championships 1973.

Fifth day of the Tournament, Friday 29th June. The programme cost 25p.






The front cover shows a picture of Alex Metreveli, Russia’s leading player of the time. A prescient picture as Metreveli eventually became runner up in the championship, beaten in the final by Jan Kodes.


As Glen! has also informed us, it was the boycott of Wimbledon by the fledgling ATP in the wake of the suspension of Nikola Pilic by the ITF that led to these two less likely contenders reaching the final.


A somewhat jaundiced but understandable view of the affair was put forward by Sir John Smyth in his opinion piece/editorial in the programme booklet. Sir John Smyth VC, MC, was a highly decorated Army officer, former conservative MP and member of the AELTC establishment. He had been writing articles and picture captions for the Wimbledon programme for many years. Smyth had also suggested a modification to the ‘foot fault rule’, so disliked by the players and difficult to judge by the umpires. His modification was tested, accepted and still remains operative. He was the author of two books on the History of Lawn Tennis.






In his opinion piece, Sir John wrote the following:

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case may be, Wimbledon had little to do with it. The action of the ATP was, however, designed to do the maximum damage to Wimbledon: but Wimbledon has survived other attacks – such as the damage done by Hitler’s bombers in the war – and will doubtless survive this one. And what an opportunity it will give to some of the excellent up and coming young players.


Other reflections offered by Sir John concern tournaments held in the lead up to Wimbledon.


Ilie Nastase is probably now the most brilliant player if the world on any surface …. if only he can control his own temperament. His failure to do this lost him the British Hardcourt title – for he got the Bournemouth crowd hotly against him.

… in the emergence of the sixteen-year-old Swede, Bjorn Borg, we have seen a future Wimbledon champion.