Class of 2006
In 1909, at 41 years and 182 days old, Alfred Gore became the oldest Wimbledon Gentlemen Singles Champion in history.
Gore wasn’t particularly interested in playing in other majors, so he rarely did. He was a singles semifinals at the 1900 U.S. Nationals, losing a tough five-set match against George Wrenn. Wimbledon was his passion and from 1888 and 1922 he played singles on the grass a record 30 times.
Gore continued playing doubles in London from 1924 to 1927, making him a fixture at the All England Club for 38 of the 60 years he lived. Gore made the most of his time at Wimbledon, winning the singles title in 1901, 1908, and 1909 and added a doubles championship in 1909. He lost in the Challenge Round four times in singles and once more in doubles. He made the finals three times in singles and four in doubles. Had the ball bounced a few more times in Gore’s favor, he would have been a double-digit Wimbledon champion. He compiled a 64-26 record in singles, second best all-time to Jimmy Connors’s 84 victories and compiled a 33-27 mark in doubles. Thankfully, Gore left Wimbledon a winner in all respects – he was 342-207 in sets won/loss and 2,811-2,342 in games won/lost. His 155 matches played ranks seventh all-time.
Photographs of Gore depict him sporting the bushy mustache of the era and an athletic build. He played Wimbledon at a time when the Doherty brothers, Reggie and Laurie, ruled Centre Court, but Gore got in his licks. He lost an excruciating Wimbledon Gentlemen Singles final to Reggie in 1889, relinquishing his 2-0 sets lead and falling, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. Two years later he exacted a measure of revenge, claiming his first of three championships with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Reggie, ending his string of four straight championships. In 1902 Laurie Doherty redeemed the family name and won the first of his five straight Wimbledon singles titles by defeating Gore, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0. The smooth playing Brit got better with age, and won his second title at age 40 in 1908. Compatriot Herbert Roper Barrett made Gore labor for the victory in a 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4 Gore victory. In 1909, Brit Josiah Ritchie pushed the elder statesman to the brink, but Gore had much more left in the tank, coming back from 2-0 sets down to find his rhythm and pound out a 6-8, 1-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win. Gore advanced to the 1907, 1910, and 1912 Wimbledon singles final, losing to Norman Brookes in straight sets (1907) and four-setters to Anthony Wilding (1910, 1912).
When Gore won his final Wimbledon singles championship in 1909, as he neared 42 years old, he also teamed with Barrett to defeat Stanley Doust and Harry Parker, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4, to win the doubles crown. He and Barrett played for additional doubles titles in 1908 and 1910, but were defeated by Ritchie and Wilding each time.
Gore played Davis Cup for Great Britain in its inaugural year of 1900 and again in 1907 and 1912. He helped the British Isles defeat Australia, 3-2, in the 1912 final. There are historians that believe his singles and doubles Gold Medal victories at the 1908 Games in London were Gore’s crowning moments as an amateur. He defeated fellow countryman George Caridia in singles. He and Barrett defeated Caridia and George Simond for the doubles crown.