• March 15 down the years

Jones the queen of the racquet sports

March 15 down the years
Ann Jones was a dominant force in women's tennis © Getty Images

Ann Jones was one of the best tennis players of the 1960s, her career culminating in the Wimbledon title on July 4, 1969. In the decade before that, when she was still Ann Haydon, she was one of the best table-tennis players in the world. But unlike Fred Perry, who won the world title on January 21, 1929, she was one of the unluckiest. She reached five World Championship finals and lost them all. That sounds like bad play, not bad luck - but a) she was only 15 when she lost two in 1954, and b) things were stacked against her three years later. She not only had to play all three finals on the same day, she'd also gone through five qualifying rounds for the mixed doubles in the morning! She came close to winning all three titles (every match went to five games) but ended up with nothing. The singles final was as close as it could have been. Against Fujie Eguchi of Japan, she lost the second game 24-22 to go two-nil down, won the third and fourth 21-19 and 23-21, then lost the decider from 16-all and 19-all, the closest any British girl has come to winning the women's singles. With that world-class doubles specialist Diane Rowe, Haydon won the fourth game 21-13 only to lose the fifth by the same score. Finally she and Czechoslovakia's Ivan Andreadis stormed the fourth game of the mixed doubles - but again the fifth ended badly and again it ended 21-19. Agonising. Maybe all this disappointment made Haydon Jones the tough tennis player she turned into. She won her first Grand Slam singles title four years later.

On the second day of the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Marlon Devonish won the 200 metres against a very weak field. Silver: Joseph Batangdon of Cameroon. Bronze: Dominic Demeritte of the Bahamas. Exactly. Meanwhile Ashia Hansen's 15.01 metres won her the triple jump ahead of a better class of opponent. And Svetlana Feofanova set a world record in the pole vault.

The last international rugby match at Cardiff Arms Park didn't have the result most of the spectators would have liked. They had to sit and watch England win the Triple Crown by winning 34-13. Not the way Neil Jenkins wanted to mark his 50th match for Wales, especially as he broke his arm early on. England led only 6-3 at half-time, but then Jeremy Guscott came on as sub and they scored four tries. With eight minutes left, Rob Andrew came on too, to win his last cap. It was also the end of the international road for Will Carling and Jonathan Davies. Wales scrum-half Rob Howley had the consolation of scoring the last international try at the old place.

The first day of the Alpine skiing World Cup Finals, AKA Alberto Tomba's coronation. After finishing second three times, he won his only overall title. In fact he won it in January, and needed only 12 races to do it: eleven wins and a fourth place. He was the first skier since Ingemar Stenmark in the 1970s to win it by taking part in only the slalom and giant slalom. He finished with 1,150 points, 375 clear.

Alberto Tomba was an artist on skis © Getty Images

After half an hour of the match with Scotland at Twickenham, supersonic winger Keith Fielding had to go off with an ankle injury. Tim Dalton came on to win his only cap and become the first substitute ever used by England. David Duckham scored two tries in an 8-3 win.

Australia's reigning Formula One champion Alan Jones won the first race of the new season, the United States Grand Prix West in California. But it was a false dawn, the only race he won that year. He finished it in third place, just four points behind the winner.

'Willie John' McBride played his 63rd and last rugby match for Ireland, equalling the world record for a single country. McBride also played in 17 Tests for the Lions. It wasn't the ending he'd have chosen. In Cardiff, Ireland were only 7-0 down at half-time, but then the age-old stamina problem reared its head. Not just Captain McBride, the whole Ireland pack. Wales scored another four tries and won 32-4, Ireland scoring theirs right at the end. The last Wales try was scored by prop 'Charlie' Faulkner, who was 34, the same age as Willie John.

The closest Desmond Douglas came to winning an international title. The European Championships in table tennis ended today. In the men's singles final, the flamboyant Gábor Gergely beat fellow Hungarian István Jónyer, who beat Douglas in the semi-finals. Galling for our Des, who'd beaten defending champion Jacques Sécretin of France. The women's final was also won by a Hungarian, Judit Magos winning in four games against the holder, Britain's Jill Hammersley.

Mal Whitman was born. A good volleyer behind a famous kicking serve, he was US tennis champion three years in a row: 1898 to 1900.

When Rob Kearney took an inside pass to score a try converted by Ronan O'Gara, who then kicked a penalty, England were 10-0 down at Twickenham and heading for their third defeat of the Six Nations season. Cue the Danny Cipriani Show. The spotlight picked out his dark scrumcap, the quick hands that put runners into space, and the goalkicking boots. By half-time, he'd been successful with two penalties and the conversion of Paul Sackey's try. By the end, he'd kicked two more penalties and two more conversions as England won 33-10. He played for England in the tough autumn matches against the Southern Hemisphere sides, but defeats, injuries, and coach Martin Johnson kept him out for the whole of 2009.