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Wimbledon woe

Steven LynchJuly 12, 2014
Serena Williams retired from her doubles match with sister Venus at Wimbledon © Getty Images

After the sad events surrounding Serena Williams, I wondered if anyone had retired from an actual Wimbledon final? asked Gerry Haslehurst.

The oddest Wimbledon climax was the one that never happened - the men's singles final of 1931, won by Sydney Wood in a walkover after his opponent Frank Shields cried off.

Shields, the grandfather of the actress Brooke Shields, injured his knee during his semi-final victory over the top-seeded Frenchman Jean Borotra. There were whispers that he was not too badly injured, but had been ordered to save himself for the impending climax of the Davis Cup.

If that was the plan, it didn't work: Great Britain beat the USA 3-2 in the inter-zone final in Paris (Shields overcame Fred Perry, but lost the deciding rubber to Bunny Austin), before losing 3-2 to holders France in the Challenge Round.

The only other retirement in a Wimbledon singles final came in 1911, when Britain's Herbert Roper Barrett - suffering from exhaustion - withdrew with his match against the defending champion Tony Wilding tied at two sets all.

There has been only one other retirement in any men's Grand Slam singles final - in Australia in 1990, when Stefan Edberg pulled an abdominal muscle in the third set, and was forced to concede the title to Ivan Lendl.

Helen Wills Moody retired when 3-0 down in the final set to Helen Jacobs in the 1933 US Championships final, pleading a back injury. There was a similar retirement (by Elisabeth Moore) which handed the 1902 US title to Marion Jones.

In Australia, Maria Bueno retired with an ankle injury in the 1965 final when 5-2 down in the third set to Margaret Smith; the following year Smith retained her title when Nancy Richey was unable to contest the final because of a knee injury.

Then in Melbourne in 2006 Amelie Mauresmo clinched her first Grand Slam title when Justine Henin was forced to retire during the second set with stomach pains.

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