There can be few more iconic figures in British tennis than Stockport-born legend Fred Perry.
He won three consecutive Wimbledon Championships from 1934 to 1936 and was ranked the best in the world in the early 1930s.
Perry was the first player to win a career Grand Slam in 1935 when he added the French Open to Wimbledon and previous American and Australian Open titles. He still remains the only British player to achieve this feat.
But in spite of all his tennis success, Perry’s first sporting love was table tennis! He was world champion in 1929!
Perry was born at 33 Carrington Road, Stockport, in May 1909. His father, Samuel Perry, was a cotton spinner. The family also lived in Bolton and Wallasey, Cheshire.
Perry first started playing tennis on public courts near his family home. His exceptional speed at table tennis served him well as he progressed through the amateur tennis ranks.
His 1936 Wimbledon triumph against German Baron Gottfried von Cramm was the quickest men’s final in the 20th century and the second fastest of all time!
Perry stormed to victory 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 in less than 45 minutes. It was suggested that Perry had been tipped the wink from the Wimbledon masseur that von Cramm had a groin strain and had difficulty moving wide on the forehand.
Although he was adored by the British public, Perry was not as popular with the tennis establishment. Some regarded him as an upstart.
Perry claimed he overheard a committee member saying ‘the best man didn’t win’ when he secured his first Wimbledon title in 1934.
To add insult to injury, his All England Club tie – traditionally handed to the championship winner – was left on a chair in his dressing room.
Undeterred, Perry continued to play brilliantly. He led Great Britain to four consecutive victories in the Davis Cup, defeating France in 1933, the United States in 1945 and 1935, and Australia in 1936.
Perry made his professional debut in January 1937 when he played Ellsworth Vines at Madison Square Garden in New York.
He continued to play Vines in a series of world tours and was later joined by American Grand Slam winner Don Budge. Perry won the US Pro title in 1938 and 1941.
A world-famous figure in his own right, Perry was romantically linked to movie star Marlene Dietrich and engaged to British actress Mary Lawson. He was married to American film star Helen Vinson from 1935 to 1940.
Perry’s association with the clothing label bearing his name started in the late 1940s. He was approached by Austrian footballer Tibby Wegner to endorse an anti-perspirant wristband he had invented.
The famous cotton pique white tennis shirt followed. It was an overnight success when it was launched at Wimbledon in 1952.
The clothes brand, with its distinctive laurel wreath emblem, became a Mod favourite and was bought by the Japanese company Hit Union in 1995.
Perry’s life is commemorated in Stockport by a blue plaque on the house where he was born and a 14-mile walking route called the Fred Perry Way.
It runs from Woodford to Reddish and passes through Woodbank Park where Perry played exhibition matches.
The borough’s new civic headquarters, opened by the Earl of Wessex and Perry’s grandson John in November 2010, is named Fred Perry house.