- Where Are They Now?
Chris Wilkinson: Memories of SW19
Tim Henman became the darling of Wimbledon from the mid-1990s onwards right up to his retirement in 2007, but another Brit came to prominence at SW19 and we take a look at the career, past and present, of Chris Wilkinson.
In 1993, three years before Henman burst onto the Wimbledon scene, Wilkinson captured the attention of the British public when he took on former world No. 1 and six-time Grand Slam champion Stefan Edberg in the third round at SW19.
Although Edberg won in three sets, Wilkinson broke the second seed's serve on numerous occasions, inspired by the partisan crowd on Centre Court.
"I remember one point which I won while diving around at the back of the court to get the ball back in play," Wilkinson said. "Anyone must have thought I was a trained goalkeeper. Edberg eventually missed the third smash and the crowd went wild."
Wilkinson reached the third round at Wimbledon four times in his career, and continues to return to the grass courts at SW19 to compete in the invitation events, and in 2007 he reached the men's invitational doubles final with former rival Mark Petchey.
Married with two daughters, Wilkinson's eldest child has shown an interest in following in her father's footsteps, but he is adamant his children focus on their schoolwork as well as their extra-curricular activities. "Alice is quite keen, she plays in a few local tournaments," he said. "Obviously we want to encourage her, she really enjoys playing for her school and the county, but the main priority is her education."
Fate could have taken Wilkinson down a different career path, as he was a talented footballer with the Southampton youth team and went to college with then Saints striker Alan Shearer, but the time came when he had to make a choice. "I was quite a skilful footballer but I wasn't very big so I used to get muscled off the ball quite a lot and I got a bit despondent about it," he said. "I was enjoying my tennis and doing quite well so it was an easy decision to make."
After his retirement in 1999, Wilkinson moved into coaching and became director of tennis at Lee-on-Solent Tennis Club, his base before he turned professional. Wilkinson also works as a commentator with Eurosport and for the ATP tour. "It's great fun," he said. "I really enjoy commentary. You get to travel around with the tour and the players and when I cover the Masters series I get to travel to some of the European events, such as Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid."
Chris Wilkinson is a former British No.1 and represented Great Britain in the Davis Cup and at the 1992 Olympic Games. He has recently joined ESPN.co.uk as our resident tennis expert and columnist. Read his column here.