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Africa's only Tour winner - and a pregnant tennis ace

Steven Lynch August 5, 2013
Chris Froome: The only African-born Tour de France winner? © AP
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When was the last time that England won the Ashes and a British man won at Wimbledon in the same year? asked Jim Wilson

It's obviously a long time ago, given that Andy Murray's famous win in the men's singles this year was the first by a Briton at Wimbledon since Fred Perry's 1930s hat-trick. But England lost the Ashes in 1934, the year of Perry's first win, and lost them again in the winter of 1936-37 after Fred completed his hat-trick. You have to go back to 1905 for this particular double: England won the Ashes 2-0 that year, and while they were doing it Laurie Doherty had an Ashes moment of his own at Wimbledon, beating Norman Brookes of Australia to win the men's singles, the fourth of his fifth successive titles. Brookes was the first man from outside the British Isles to reach the final - and two years later he became the first overseas player to win it. England did win the Ashes in 1977, when Virginia Wade won the women's singles at Wimbledon.

If Gareth Bale is sold to Real Madrid for anything like £100 million, will that be a world record transfer fee? asked Christopher Blyth

It's hard to keep track of this record these days, as so many other factors - including players given in exchange - make it difficult to ascertain the exact amount. Having said that, it is generally accepted that the biggest transfer fee paid to date was €94 million - around £80 million - by Real to Manchester United in 2009 for Cristiano Ronaldo. That smashed a record set earlier in 2009, also by Real Madrid, when they bought Kaka from AC Milan for £56m.

Was any Tour de France winner born in Africa before Chris Froome? asked Andrew Shepherd

The answer seems to be no: the 2013 Tour de France winner Chris Froome was born in Kenya and brought up in South Africa, and none of his Tour-winning predecessors seem to have been born in Africa. I did wonder whether any of the earlier winners and leaders were born in the former French possessions in north Africa, but I can't trace any. In 2012 Froome was second behind Bradley Wiggins in Le Tour, and also took the bronze medal - again behind the soon-to-be-knighted Wiggins - in the time trial at the London Olympics. Back in 2007 Froome took the bronze medal for his native Kenya in the 150km race at the All-African Games - a race won by Daryl Impey, who in 2013 was widely reported to have become the first African to lead the Tour de France. Impey kept the yellow jersey for two days before Froome took permanent possession of it after winning the eighth of the 21 stages.

Laurie Doherty: The last British man to win Wimbledon in the same year England won the Ashes © PA Photos
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Who is the oldest track and field Olympic medallist? asked Graham Foster

This record is held by Britain's Terence "Tebbs" Lloyd Johnson, who won the bronze medal in the 50-kilometre walk at the 1948 London Olympics when he was 48. The oldest gold medallist in the athletics events is Pat McDonald, who was 42 when he won the 56-pound weight throw at Antwerp in 1920: before the Great War McDonald had also taken gold in the shot putt in Stockholm in 1912. The oldest woman to win a medal is the Jamaican sprinter Merlene Ottey, who took the bronze - her ninth Olympic medal, none of them gold - in the 100m at Sydney in 2000, when she was 40. The oldest female gold medallist was also from those Sydney Games: 39-year-old Ellina Zvereva from Belarus won the discus.

After golfer Hunter Mahan pulled out while leading the Canadian Open recently, my father told me about a high-ranked tennis player who withdrew from Wimbledon when she found out she was pregnant. Who was this? asked Simon Kerslake

I think the player your father is thinking of is Beverly Baker Fleitz, who reached the quarter-final at Wimbledon in 1956, when seeded second, but then withdrew for what the Daily Telegraph coyly described as "delicate and happy reasons". Shirley Fry won the title for the only time that year - and thanked Fleitz's husband John in her victory speech. Mrs Fleitz, who had been beaten in the 1955 final by Louise Brough, was one of the very few ambidextrous players to make it to the top in tennis, although she never did win a Grand Slam singles title.

What's the connection between Andre Agassi, Lindsay Davenport and Bobby Davro? asked Malcolm Potter

This one threw me for a bit, until I remembered that Bobby Davro's father was a prominent athlete: Bill Nankeville was sixth in the 1500m at the London Olympics of 1948, and won the mile event at the prestigious AAA Championships four times between 1948 and 1952 - he missed out in 1951, when it was won by Roger Bannister, soon to become the first to break the four-minute barrier for the mile. So the connection is that all their fathers were Olympians: Mike Agassi boxed for Iran in 1948 and 1952, while Winthrop "Wink" Davenport was part of the US volleyball team at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico.

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