Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal from his Wimbledon semifinal with Nick Kyrgios with a stomach tear shocked the tennis world. However, it is not the most famous “Wimbledon Walkover” in the history of The Championships.
In one of the most unusual episodes ever in tennis history came in the 1931 Wimbledon final when American Sidney Wood won the men’s singles title by forfeit. Wood, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 97, tells the story in his book “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was…And Other Tennis Tales From A By-Gone Era” (for sale and download here https://www.amazon.com/dp/0942257847/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_MJT771VHG5P7VNGMVCW1) of how he won the Wimbledon title over Frank Shields, his school buddy, doubles partner, roommate and Davis Cup teammate (and model and actress Brooke Shield’s grandfather) when Shields was ordered by the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) to withdraw from the final to rest his injured knee in preparation for a U.S. Davis Cup match following Wimbledon. He then discusses his “private understanding playoff” that saw his match with Shields at the Queen’s Club tournament final in London three years later be played for the Wimbledon trophy.
Writes Bud Collins in “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” book of Wood, “he became the second-youngest champion of Centre Court, and without stepping onto the hallowed sod. Frank Shields, with an injured ankle, withdrew, the only time Wimbledon has had a defaulted final.”
“Frank wanted to play, and so did I,” Wood said to Collins years later . “It was insulting to the fans and the tournament. I didn’t want to win that way. But the U.S. Davis Cup committee ordered Frank to withdraw so he’d be ready for Davis Cup the next weekend against Britain, which we lost. It shows you the control the USTA had over us amateurs.”
Wood got to the final with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, decision over Britain’s Fred Perry, the future champion, and, at 19, became the youngest Wimbledon champ until 17-year-old Boris Becker in 1985.
Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “Juan Martin del Potro: The Gentle Giant” by Sebastian Torok, “Althea Gibson: I Always Wanted To Be Somebody” by Althea Gibson, “The Pros: The Forgotten Era of Tennis” by Peter Underwood, “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All-Time” and “Pete Sampras: Greatness Revisited” by Steve Flink, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Macci Magic: Extracting Greatness From Yourself And Others” by Rick Macci with Jim Martz, “Andy Murray, Wimbledon Champion: The Full Extraordinary Story” by Mark Hodgkinson, “Cattle To Courts: A History of Tennis In Texas” by Ken McAllister, “Sport of a Lifetime: Enduring Personal Stories From Tennis” by Judy Aydelott, “Trojan Tennis: A History of the Storied Men’s Tennis Program at the University of Southern California” by S. Mark Young, “Absolute Tennis: The Best And Next Way To Play The Game” by Marty Smith, “How To Permanently Erase Negative Self Talk So You Can Be Extraordinary” by Emily Filloramo, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Your Playbook For Beating Depression: Essential Strategies For Managing and Living with Depression” by Cliff Richey and Mary Garrison, “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All-Time” by Sandra Harwitt, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Days of Roger Federer” and “On This Day In Tennis History” by Randy Walker, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “Court Confidential: Inside The World Of Tennis” by Neil Harman, “A Backhanded Gift” by Marshall Jon Fisher, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “Internet Dating 101: It’s Complicated, But It Doesn’t Have To Be” by Laura Schreffler, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “Bone Appetit: Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Suzan Anson, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin among others.