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.
Watch Virginia Wade Win Wimbledon