William Renshaw

WILLIAM RENSHAW (GREAT BRITAIN)

Born: 3/1/1861 Died: 12/8/1904

Wimbledon 1881,1882,1883,1884,1885,1886,1889

William Renshaw set new standards in the game. He dominated the 1880s with an aggressive style of play that proved too much for the vicarage lawn style of his contemporaries. Renshaw was one of the first players to use the overarm service to great effect (thus bringing the era of the underarm serve to an end) and also had a powerful smash. William and his twin brother Ernest came from Leamington and went to school at Cheltenham. He was just 19 when he first entered the Wimbledon championships in 1880, losing in the third round to Otway Woodhouse. The following year he thrashed defending champion John Hartley in the Challenge Round, his aggressive play and mastery of the half volley proving too much for the gentler style of the Reverend. In 1882 Williamís twin brother Ernest faced him in the Challenge Round and William took his second title. Ernest was his opponent again in 1883, and after five sets William was the victor again. In 1884 William won in straight sets over Herbert Lawford and beat Lawford again in 1885 and 1886, both in four sets. Renshaw did not enter the event in 1887 and the following year he lost in the quarters to Willoby Hamilton. Going for a seventh title in 1889, Renshaw reached the All Comers final where he met Harry Barlow. Renshaw lost the first two sets but fought back to take the third. In the fourth set Barlow had six match points. On one of them Renshaw dropped his racket but instead of killing the ball, Barlow dollied it up so Renshaw had time to pick up his racket and win the point. Renshaw took the fourth set 10-8 to level at two sets all but his problems were far from over. Barlow led 5-0 in the fifth set before Renshaw clawed his way back to win the set 8-6 and with it the match. In the Challenge Round William beat his brother Ernest in four sets to take his seventh title, a record that was finally equalled in 2000 by Pete Sampras. The following year Renshaw lost in the Challenge Round to Hamilton and retired from the game at the age of just 30. He died in 1904 at the premature age of 43.

© GRAND SLAM TENNIS ARCHIVE

HEAD TO HEAD Win-Loss: W.Hamilton 0-2, J.Hartley 1-0, H.Lawford 5-0, E.Renshaw 3-0

William Renshaw's Grand Slam record

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