Class of 2013
World No. 1 (1891)
Grand Slam Results
7-time Wimbledon champion and 5-time finalist
Records are meant to be broken, but some just take longer than others. In 1891, when Wilfred Baddeley was 19 years and 5 months old, he won the Gentlemen’s Singles Championship at Wimbledon, making him the youngest winner in history. That record stood for 94 years until 17-year-old German Boris Becker broke it in 1985.
Baddeley had a dark, brooding, mysterious look and a penetrating stare that was said to intimidate his opponents. It helped him appear in six consecutive Wimbledon Gentlemen Singles finals, winning three. Baddeley captured the 1891 title 6–4, 1–6, 7–5, 6–0 over Ireland’s Joshua Pim. The July 8, 1891 edition of English sports magazine Pastime wrote, “The winner may be compared to a cricketer who has played a faultless innings. It is not too much to say that he always did the right thing. Besides playing with wonderful accuracy, he kept his head well at the most critical times, and showed, in particular, the most unerring judgment in choosing the right side for passing his man. In activity he is second to none, and the manner in which he places the ball when running at full speed recalls the famous strokes of the champion whom he has succeeded.”
Pim gave Baddeley another tough match in 1892, but lost another four-setter, 4–6, 6–3, 6–3, 6–2. The 1895 championship was a tough chore, as Baddeley came back from two sets down to defeat compatriot W.V. Eaves, 4–6, 2–6, 8–6, 6–2, 6–3. He played for the championship in 1893 and 1894, when Pim exacted revenge by winning both in hard-fought matches and in 1896 when countryman Harold Mahoney prevailed in five grueling sets, 6–2, 6–8, 5–7, 8–6, 6–3.
Baddeley didn’t save his expertise just for singles. He copped four Wimbledon Gentlemen Doubles Championships in six trips to the finals. Those titles, in 1891, 1894, 1895, and 1896 where all accomplished with his identical twin brother Herbert, making them a formidable pair. They lost in the 1892 and 1897 finals. Despite being only 25-years-old, that 1897 match wound up being Baddeley’s last. He and Herbert both stopped playing tennis and dedicated themselves to their law careers.
Baddeley was described by British historian John Barrett as “a sound rather than a spectacular player.” In the early 1890s, he authored a book on lawn tennis simply called Lawn Tennis. It offered practical advice on how to play the game in what was described as a “reflection of Wilfred’s unpretentious, modest personality.”
Wimbledon: W 1891, 1892, 1895
Wimbledon: W 1891, 1894, 1895, 1896