Virginia Wade Wins Wimbledon 1977

Sarah Virginia Wade, commonly known as Virginia, has the distinction of being the last British tennis player to win the Ladies’ Singles at the Wimbledon Championships. She did so on July 1, 1977, the year that marked the centenary of the Wimbledon Championships and the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth, who made her first appearance in SW19 since 1962.

Wade already had two Grand Slam singles to her name, having won the US Open in 1968 and the Australian Open in 1972, but in fifteen previous appearances at Wimbledon had reached the semi-finals twice, in 1974 and 1976, but progressed no further. In 1977, third-seeded Wade progressed through the first four rounds, against unseeded opponents, without dropping a set. In the quarter-final she defeated number six seed Rosie Casalas, again in straight sets, and in the semi-final beat number one seed, and reigning champion, Chris Evert 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 to set up a final encounter with number seven seed Betty Stöve.

Wade had beaten Stove – the first Dutch player to reach a Wimbledon final – on seventeen of their previous nineteen meetings but, in an error-strewn match, she lost the first set 6-4 and surrendered a 3-0 lead in the second to leave the result hanging in the balance. However, Wade recovered to win the next seven games in a row, thereby taking what proved to be an unassailable 4-0 lead in the third, and final, set. Eventually, after one hour and thirty-seven minutes, she closed out the match, winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-1; understandably, her victory made prominent front-page news the following day.

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The ‘Miracle on Ice’ 1980

On February 22, 1980, at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, a young, inexperienced United States’ men’s ice hockey team defeated the Soviet Union ‘Dream Team’ in the first game of the medal round, thereby creating one of the most dramatic upsets in Olympic history.

The Soviet Union team had won gold medals at the previous four Winter Olympics and, having beaten the United States 10-3 in an exhibition match at Madison Square Garden, New York City less than two weeks earlier, were overwhelming favourites to do so once again. However, despite their lack of National Hockey League (NHL) experience, the United States’ players held their own in the first quarter, which finished 2-2, and trailed just 3-2 at the end of the second, thanks in no small part to heroics on the part of goaltender James ‘Jim’ Craig.

Approaching the halfway point in the third, and final, period, Mark Johnson took advantage of a deflected shot by David Silk to level the scores at 3-3. Less than a minute-and-a-half later, captain Michael Eruzione, who previous experience was with the Toledo Blades in the International Hockey League, scored to give the United States a 4-3 lead. Despite intense pressure in the final five minutes, the Americans refused to panic and, with Craig once again the hero of the hour, held on to win what was later dubbed ‘The Miracle on Ice’. To complete the fairy tale, two days later, the United States beat Finland to win the gold medal.

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