I consider myself as a tennis historian and statistician focused on the Open era, but the transition between eras is important in every field of history, therefore I recommend a book of a player, who passed away two years ago – before it happened, he had seen the most important tennis matches in span of 40 years in two different eras!Sidney Wood(1911-2009) – the youngest Wimbledon champion through 54 years, after a final which wasn’t played (1931) due to injury of his opponent – there hasn’t been a walkover in a major final since then (the previous one occurred in 1891)! The man who was a witness of the biggest achievements made by all tennis legends in the history of tennis in span of 80 years (!); from watching guys like Bill Tilden, Rene Lacoste, Jean Borotra, either on the other side of the net or from the perspective of spectators sitting on the grandstand, to observing the current best players like Federer, Nadal or Djokovic, sitting in front of the television set. In short, the man who saw all the best players and knew everything about the game. His copious memoirs are included to the book in non-chronological order, there are depicted on-court and off-court stories with figures like his long-time tennis friend Frank Shields (grandfather of Brooke Shields), and famous actors, Charlie Chaplin, Gauncho Marx, Grace Kelly among others, plus his analysis of the best players in history in terms of their successes and their biggest weapons. An obligatory reading for all tennis fans, who want to know something more about the “mythical” pre-Open era. The book has an interesting structure as well, because Wood’s memoirs are enhanced by comments of his son – David.
# Wood’s four Grand Slam finals:
Singles, Wimbledon 1931: Frank Shields w/o Mixed doubles, Roland Garros 1932: with Helen Wills Moody – Betty Nuthall / Fred Perry 4-6, 2-6 Singles, US Open 1935: Wilmer Allison 2-6, 2-6, 3-6 Doubles, US Open 1942: with Ted Schroeder – Gardnar Mulloy / Bill Talbert 5-7, 7-9, 1-6