• July 7 down the years

Becker battles his way to glory

Boris Becker shocked the tennis world at Wimbledon © Getty Images

Some iconic Wimbledon tennis finals were played on this day.

In 1985, Boris Becker became the youngest winner of the men's singles. Unseeded and only 17 but big and strong with a crushing serve, he nearly dropped out with a sprained ankle in the fourth round, and had to save a set point to avoid trailing 2-0 in the semi-final - and that fighting spirit won him the final. If Becker's serve knocked the racquet out of your hand, Kevin Curren's went past you like lightning. In the quarter-finals and semis, it absolutely fried defending champion John McEnroe and former champion Jimmy Connors, who both lost in straight sets, the first two 6-2 in each case. But in the final against Becker, that great service had a nervous master. Curren was stiff-legged and tentative throughout, getting in only 50% of his first serves. He lost the first set, traded tie-breaks to go 2-1 down, then immediately dropped serve in the fourth. He had two points to break back, but Becker smacked him with two heavy serves. Punching the air and shouting "Ja!" after winning big points, he took the title 6-4 in the fourth and retained it the following year. Curren never won a Grand Slam singles title.

In 1990, Martina Navrátilová won the Wimbledon singles title for the 9th and last time, breaking the record set in 1938 (2 July). She was lucky that Steffi Graf had lost in the semi-finals to Zina Garrison. Graf had beaten Navrátilová in the final for the past two years, each time 6-1 in the third set. The semi-final was a match the champion lost rather than one Garrison won - and she didn't have the weapons to hurt Navrátilová, who won in straight sets. Garrison consoled herself by regaining the mixed doubles title.

In 1934, Elizabeth 'Bunny' Ryan won the Wimbledon doubles for the 12th and last time, easily a record for any event at the championships. She won them with five different partners, including Simone Mathieu today. In the final, they beat another Franco-American partnership, Silvia Henrotin and Dorothy Andrus, 6-3 in each set. Two years earlier, Ryan had won the last of her seven mixed doubles titles, another record.

On the same day in 1956, Doris Hart came close to Ryan's total by winning the mixed doubles for the sixth year in a row, a unique achievement. She won the first two with Frank Sedgman and the last four with Vic Seixas. Today they won the third set 7-5 against Althea Gibson, the first black player to win a Wimbledon title (6 July), and 42-year-old Gardnar Mulloy.

In 1934, the day after Fred Perry won the Wimbledon singles for the first time, another British player did the same, Dorothy Round beating serial runner-up Helen Jacobs. Round's groundstrokes were as hard as most men's, forehand and backhand - and they won her the match after she'd dropped the second set 7-5 and been broken back twice in the third. She made some astonishing half-volley returns from Jacobs' passing shots and won the last three games to take the match 6-3. She regained the title in 1937 (3 July).

Cue Chariots of Fire theme tune as Harold Abrahams wins Olympic gold. It wasn't in the original script. Four of the six runners in the final were American, including defending champion Charley Paddock, and Jackson Scholz and Loren Murchison, who'd helped Paddock win relay gold four years earlier. But Abrahams was well coached by Sam Mussabini and peaked at the right time, equalling the Olympic record of 10.6 in the quarter-final and semi - and again in the final. After all six runners had reached halfway in a line, the tall rangy Abrahams pulled away to win by a yard. Scholz was second, Paddock down in fifth. They were first and second in the 200 metres final two days later, when Abrahams finished a relaxed last and Scotland's Eric Liddell won the bronze on the way to bigger things (11 July).

You know the track and field gods are having a laugh when they let you get to a major championship and set a world record without winning the event. At the Olympics, America's Bob LeGendre broke the world record in the long jump - but he did it in the pentathlon. A lot of points, therefore - but only enough for bronze. Meanwhile the actual long jump competition on 8 July was won with a distance 33 centimetres shorter.

Meanwhile Morgan Taylor won the 400 metres hurdles but wasn't credited with a world record because he knocked a hurdle down, a strange rule that was still there eight years later (1 August). And his US team mate Harold Osborn set an Olympic record of 1.98 metres in winning the high jump.

Tony Jacklin was born in Scunthorpe. When he won the British Open in 1969 (12 July), he not only became the first British winner since 1951 (6 July) but established himself as one of the best and most marketable golfers in the world. Trim and good looking, he absolutely dominated the US Open the following year (21 June). These were his only two Major wins, but he might well have regained the British Open in 1972 but for Lee Trevino's stroke of luck (15 July); instead he finished third behind Trevino for the second year in a row. That one shot effectively wrecked Jacklin's career at the top: he didn't finish in the top ten of a Major again. But he was a popular and positive Ryder Cup captain who led Europe to victory in 1985 (15 September), when the Americans, captained by Trevino, lost for the first time since 1957 - and their first ever win in the USA two years later (27 September).

Jeremy Guscott was born in Bath. When he scored three tries on his England debut in 1989 (13 May), the rugby world began to share his own opinion of how good he was. There's never been a cockier young player - but that level of arrogance is fine if you can walk the walk, and no-one did it much better, or much better-looking. A smooth runner whose timing and angles made him look faster than he was, he put in his share of tackles but was essentially an attacking centre, Guscott's pace and nose for the try line brought him 30 in 65 matches for England, helping them to four Five Nations titles, including three Grand Slams. He also won two Test series for the Lions, with a cheeky try against Australia in 1989 (8 July) with a drop goal, of all things, against South Africa in 1997 (28 June). After scoring three tries in his first international, he nearly did the same in his last: against Tonga in the 1999 World Cup, he scored two as well as pushing Mike Catt away before diving on the ball in the in-goal area - and failing to get downward pressure! As part of a Bath team of all the talents, he won six league titles, including four in a row, and six Cup finals, then became a straight-taking TV analyst.

In 2002, another top try scorer collected eight in one match. Playing for Japan in a World Cup qualifier at home to poor Taiwan, flying winger Daisuke Ohata was one of ten players who scored tries in a ridiculous 155-3 win. Japan scored 23 in all, and Toru Kurihara and New Zealand born Andy Miller converted 20 between them. Kurihara scored a record number of points against the same country on 21 July, and Ohata set another world best with his last international try in 2006 (25 November).

The great Murray Halberg was born in New Zealand. When he was 17, a rugby tackle led to two operations which left him with a withered left arm. So he taught himself to alter his balance when he ran. Within eight years, he was the best 5,000 metre runner in the world. He won the three miles at the Commonwealth Games, then a similarly gutsy piece of front running gave him the gold medal at the 1960 Olympics (2 September). After setting world records at two miles and three miles the following year, he retained the Commonwealth title in 1962.

Hicham El-Guerrouj of Morocco ran a mile in 3 minutes 43.13 seconds, a world record that still stands.

On the same day in 1982, Dave Moorcroft ran the 5,000 metres in a new world record and came close to breaking the 13-minute barrier. His time of 13:00.41 in Oslo is still the best by a British runner.

Gottfried von Cramm was born near Hanover. Elegant and good-looking on a tennis court, he could play the game a bit too - his severe service and sharp cross-court drives winning the French singles in 1934 and 1936. In each final, he beat the defending champion: Jack Crawford and Fred Perry, who'd beaten von Cramm to win the title in 1935 but lost two sets 6-0 to him the following year (1 June). At Wimbledon, von Cramm lost three singles finals in a row, but all against top players: the first two to Perry, including one when he injured his leg early on (3 July), the third to Don Budge, who also beat him in the US final of 1937 and an epic Davis Cup match with overtones: US v Germany just before the War (20 July). Von Cramm won an Iron Cross during it, and played in the Davis Cup until 1953. He was born aristocratic (Gottfried Alexander Maximilian Walter Kurt von Cramm) and married into money: the Woolworths heiress Barbara Hutton in 1955. Like Bill Tilden (born 10 February 1893), he was imprisoned for having a gay relationship. His only Wimbledon title was the mixed doubles in 1933.