- Ask Steven
A Wimbledon specialSteven Lynch June 25, 2012
Who was the tallest Wimbledon champion? asked Clive Wilson
The tallest Wimbledon singles champion was Richard Krajicek, the Dutchman who triumphed in 1996: he's 6ft 5ins tall. The only loftier Grand Slam singles champion is, I believe, Juan Martin del Potro, the Argentinian who won the 2009 US Open, at 6ft 6ins. The tallest man to play at Wimbledon was the Croatian Ivo Karlovic, who is 6ft 10ins. The tallest women's champion was Lindsay Davenport, who is 6ft 2½ins tall. The most stratospheric singles match at Wimbledon came during the fourth round in 2000, when Alexander Popp of Germany faced Marc Rosset of Switzerland - both of them are 6ft 7ins tall.
Serena and Venus Williams have played each other in the Wimbledon final on four occasions. Has any other pair of sisters met in the singles at Wimbledon? asked Claire Sergeant
The Williams sisters have opposed each other five times in the singles at Wimbledon - in the finals of 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2009, and also in the 2000 semi-final. Venus won that one, but trails 2-3 overall. The very first women's singles final at Wimbledon, back in 1884, saw Maud Watson beat her sister Lilian; the pair, from Harrow in Middlesex, emerged from a 13-woman draw. Maud retained her title the following year, but Lilian exited in the first round. The only other time sisters have met in the women's singles at Wimbledon was in 1966, when the Australian Gail Sheriff beat her sister Carol in the second round.
Was the famous Borg-McEnroe tiebreak the longest one in Wimbledon history? asked James Mitchell
That epic 1980 tiebreak (look out for it on TV when it rains during this year's tournament!) comprised 34 points, with John McEnroe eventually winning it 18-16. It's the longest tiebreak in a final ... but amazingly Bjorn Borg had taken part in an even longer one a few years previously. In 1973, when he was only 17, he won a third-set tiebreaker against the Indian player Premjit Lall 20-18. That's the longest one in any singles match at Wimbledon, but there was a 50-pointer in the men's doubles in 1985, when Jan Gunnarson of Sweden and Denmark's Michael Mortensen won their fourth set tiebreak against John Frawley (Australia) and Victor Pecci (Paraguay) 26-24. This appears to be the longest tiebreak in ATP Tour history too.
The Wimbledon records include a player called A. V. Martini, who won the veterans' doubles in 1967 and 1968. Unlike most of the other winners of this event, he wasn't a former champion, as far as I know. Can you tell me more about him? asked Brian Jameson
Allen "Dry" Martini flew with distinction in the Second World War, twice earning the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery, among several other honours. After the war he went into the entertainment business in California, working with RKO Studios and later moving into television. He had played some tennis as a youngster, and said he took it up again "when I started getting old". I'm not aware that he played any serious tournament tennis until relatively late in life, but when the veterans' doubles concept was started at Wimbledon in 1964, Martini and his partner George MacCall (a noted tennis promoter, and the United States' Davis Cup captain at the time; he and Martini had enjoyed some age-group success in America) lost in the final, and did so again the following year. In 1967 and 1968 Martini won the event, playing with the 1954 singles champion Jaroslav Drobny. As far as I can discover, Martini is still alive; he would now be 92.
Who are the youngest - and oldest - players to have been seeded at Wimbledon? asked Craig Peterson
This is a distinguished list. The youngest man to be seeded in the singles was the future five-times champion Bjorn Borg, who was 17 years 19 days old when the 1973 tournament started. The youngest woman was Jennifer Capriati - 14 years 89 days old in 1990. The oldest male seed was the legendary Pancho Gonzales, who was 41 years 45 days old in 1969, the year of his epic five-hour Centre Court duel with Charlie Pasarell. And the oldest ladies' seed was the six-times champion Billie-Jean King, who was 39 years 210 days old in 1983; she lost in the semi-final that year, to the 18-year-old Andrea Jaeger.
Who was stung by a bee during a match on Centre Court? asked Tim McAlpine
I suppose numerous spectators might have been over the years, but the only player I'm aware of is the American Kathy Rinaldi - a singles semi-finalist in 1985 - whose third-round match against Pam Shriver on Centre Court in 1982 was interrupted by a swarm of bees. The Wimbledon Compendium reports that "Miss Shriver swatted them with her racket but one stung Miss Rinaldi on the arm. Miss Shriver gallantly crossed over and removed the sting." Shriver went on to win 6-4 6-1 (but I'm not sure at which point the bee incident happened!).