The world’s most famous tennis tournament began Monday, bringing in competitors and fans from all over the world.
Ah, but there was a time when Wimbledon was reserved for Tampa Bay alone.
It has been 22 years now since Pete Sampras and Jim Courier, both of whom lived here at the time, played in the Wimbledon Finals. Sampras won in four sets, although the first two were by tie-breaker, to win the first of his seven titles.
At the time, Sampras was No. 1 in the world and Courier was No. 2. Sampras lived in Tampa and Courier in Dade City.
It wasn’t Tampa’s only flirtation with Wimbledon. In 1956, Shirley Fry – a former copy clerk at the St. Petersburg Times – won the women’s draw at Wimbledon over England’s Angela Buxton. The story goes that Buxom’s wealthy father had promised her a recreational pier at a resort if she won. Then-mayor of St. Pete Samuel Johnson promised to give Fry the St. Petersburg Pier if she won to reciprocate.
After she did, Fry sent a cable back.
“Coming to collect my pier,” she said.