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Fred Perry

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Background Information

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Frederick John Perry
Fred Perry 01.jpg
Country United Kingdom Great Britain
Born (1909-05-18)18 May 1909
Portwood, Stockport, Cheshire, England
Died 2 February 1995(1995-02-02) (aged 85)
Melbourne, Australia
Turned pro 1936 (amateur tour from 1929)
Retired 1956
Plays Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
Int. Tennis HOF 1975 ( member page)
Highest ranking No. 1 (1934, A. Wallis Myers)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open W ( 1934)
French Open W ( 1935)
Wimbledon W ( 1934, 1935, 1936)
US Open W ( 1933, 1934, 1936)
Professional majors
US Pro W ( 1938, 1941)
Wembley Pro QF ( 1951, 1952)
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian Open W (1934)
French Open W (1933)
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
French Open W (1932)
Wimbledon W (1935, 1936)
US Open W (1932)
Last updated on: September 18, 2012.

Frederick John "Fred" Perry (18 May 1909 – 2 February 1995) was a championship-winning English tennis and table tennis player who won 10 Majors including eight Grand Slams and two Pro Slams. Perry won three consecutive Wimbledon Championships from 1934 to 1936 and was World No. 1 or Co-No. 1 for four years in total. Prior to Andy Murray in 2013, Perry was the last British player to win the men's Wimbledon championship, in 1936 and was the last British player to win a Men's singles Grand Slam title until Andy Murray won the 2012 US Open.

Perry was the first player to win all four Grand Slam singles titles (though not all in the same year) and completed this "Career Grand Slam" at the age of 26, remaining the only British player ever to achieve this. Although Perry began his tennis career aged 18, he was also a Table Tennis World Champion in 1929,

In 1933, Perry helped lead the Great Britain team to victory over France in the Davis Cup; the team's first success since 1912, followed by wins over the United States in 1934, 1935, and a fourth consecutive title with victory over Australia in 1936.

Perry was acclaimed across the tennis world, but was not universally admired in his homeland, and was widely ostracised by the tennis establishment for turning professional after completing a hat-trick of Wimbledon singles triumphs. After becoming disillusioned with the class-conscious nature of the Lawn Tennis Club of Great Britain, the working-class Perry moved to the United States before becoming a naturalised US citizen in 1938. In 1942, he was drafted into the US Air Force during the Second World War.

Despite his unprecedented contribution to British tennis, Perry was not accorded full recognition by tennis authorities until his twilight years. In 1984, a statue of Perry was unveiled at Wimbledon, and in the same year Perry became the only tennis player listed in a survey of 2,000 Britons to find the 'Best of the Best' British sportsmen of the 20th century.

Early life

The house where Fred Perry was born in on Carrington Road, Stockport, Cheshire.

Perry was born in Stockport, Cheshire in 1909 where his father, Samuel Perry (1877–1954), was a cotton spinner. For the first decade of his life, he also lived in Bolton and Wallasey because his father was involved in local politics. When living in Wallasey he attended Liscard Primary School. Perry moved to Brentham Garden Suburb in Ealing, west London aged nine when his father became the national secretary of the Co-operative Party after World War I. His father became the Co-operative Party Member of Parliament for Kettering in 1929.

Fred Perry
Full name PERRY Frederick John
Nationality  England

Perry first began to play tennis on the public courts near his family's housing estate. He was educated at Ealing Grammar School for Boys.

Amateur status

In 1928–29, Perry won several medals in the single, double, and team events in the World Table Tennis Championships. He had exceptional speed and played with the Shakehand style, attacking the ball low and on the rise.

Along with the US, French and Australian championships, Perry won the Wimbledon men's title three times in succession between 1934 and 1936. His final triumph was a 6–1, 6–1, 6–0 victory over the German Baron Gottfried von Cramm which lasted less than 45 minutes. It became the quickest final in the 20th century and the second shortest of all time. Perry had been able to pick up the information from the Wimbledon masseur that von Cramm had been treated for a groin strain and was as a result having difficulty moving wide on the forehand.

Perry's success attracted the adoration of the crowds at Wimbledon particularly as he contrasted sharply with the privileged background of most patrons and players associated with the All England Club at the time. The upper echelons of the British tennis establishment greeted his success more coolly, regarding him as an "upstart". After winning his maiden Wimbledon title, Perry recalled overhearing a Wimbledon committee member remark that "the best man didn't win." His All England Club member's tie, awarded to all winners of the Championships, was left for him on a chair in his dressing room.

In the Davis Cup, Perry led the Great Britain team to four consecutive victories from 1933 to 1936, with wins over France in 1933, the United States in 1934 and 1935, and Australia in 1936. Perry competed in a total of 20 Davis Cup matches, winning 34 of his 38 rubbers in singles, and 11 out of 14 in doubles.

Professional career

After three years as the world No. 1 tennis amateur player, Perry turned professional in late 1936. This led to his being virtually ostracised by the British tennis establishment. For the next two years he played lengthy tours against the best professional player, Ellsworth Vines. In 1937, they played 61 matches in the United States on their big tour, with Vines winning 32 and Perry 29. They then sailed to England, where they played a brief tour. Perry won six matches out of nine, so they finished the year tied at 35 victories each. The following year, 1938, the big tour was even longer, and this time Vines beat Perry 49 matches to 35, while the short English tour ended at four victories a piece. Don Budge won the Grand Slam in 1938 as an amateur and then turned professional and played a series of matches against both Vines and Perry in 1939, beating Vines 22 times to 17, and beating Perry by 28 victories to 8.

Perry also won the US Pro title in 1938 and 1941, held in Chicago in both those years.

Personal life

Perry was one of the leading bachelors of the 1930s and his off-court romances were sensationalised in the world press. Perry had a romantic relationship with the actress Marlene Dietrich and in 1934 he announced his engagement to the British actress Mary Lawson, but the relationship fell apart after Perry relocated to America. In 1935 he married an American film star Helen Vinson, but their marriage ended in divorce in 1940. In 1941 he was briefly married to a model, Sandra Breaux. Then, in 1945, he married Lorraine Walsh, but that marriage also ended quickly. Perry's final marriage to Barbara Riese in 1952 lasted over forty years, until his death. They had two children Penny and David. The sister of Barbara (Bobby) Riese was the actress Patricia Roc.

Perry had a sister Edith and a half sister, Sylvia, and has a great-nephew and great-niece, Daniel and Laura Nightingale. Perry died in a hospital in Melbourne, Australia after breaking his ribs following a fall in a hotel bathroom.

Sporting legacy

A statue of Fred Perry at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon

Perry is considered by some to have been one of the greatest male players ever to have played the game. In his 1979 autobiography Jack Kramer, the long-time tennis promoter and great player himself, called Perry one of the six greatest players of all time.

Kings of the Court, a video-tape documentary made in 1997 in conjunction with the International Tennis Hall of Fame, named Perry one of the ten greatest players of all time. But this documentary only considered those players who played before the Open era of tennis that began in 1968, with the exception of Rod Laver, who spanned both eras, so that all of the more recent great players are missing.

Kramer, however, had several caveats about Perry. He says that Bill Tilden once called Perry "the world's worst good player". Kramer says that Perry was "extremely fast; he had a hard body with sharp reflexes, and he could hit a forehand with a snap, slamming it on the rise—and even on the fastest grass. That shot was nearly as good as Segura's two-handed forehand." His only real weakness, says Kramer, "was his backhand. Perry hit underslice off that wing about 90 percent of the time, and eventually at the very top levels—against Vines and Budge—that was what did him in. Whenever an opponent would make an especially good shot, Perry would cry out 'Very clevah.' I never played Fred competitively, but I heard enough from other guys that 'Very clevah' drove a lot of opponents crazy."

Kramer also says that in spite of his many victories, both as an amateur and as a professional, Perry was an "opportunist, a selfish and egotistical person, and he never gave a damn about professional tennis. He was through as a player the instant he turned pro. He was a great champion, and he could have helped tennis, but it wasn't in his interest so he didn't bother." Kramer then recounts several instances in which it was clear to him that Perry was losing matches in which he had given up because he "wanted to make sure that the crowd understood that this was all beneath him."

Perry, however, recalled his days on the professional tour differently. He maintained that "there was never any easing up in his tour matches with Ellsworth Vines and Bill Tilden since there was the title of World Pro Champion at stake." He said "I must have played Vines in something like 350 matches, yet there was never any fixing as most people thought. There were always people willing to believe that our pro matches weren't strictly on the level, that they were just exhibitions. But as far as we were concerned, we always gave everything we had."

A final comment from Kramer is that Perry unwittingly "screwed up men's tennis in England, although this wasn't his fault. The way he could hit a forehand—snap it off like a ping-pong shot—Perry was a physical freak. Nobody else could be taught to hit a shot that way. But the kids over there copied Perry's style, and it ruined them. Even after Perry faded out of the picture, the coaches there must have kept using him as a model."

Clothing label

The Fred Perry Clothing Label
The classic Fred Perry design

In the late 1940s, Perry was approached by Tibby Wegner, an Austrian footballer who had invented an anti-perspirant device worn around the wrist. Perry made a few changes to create the first sweatband.

Wegner's next idea was to produce a sports shirt, which was to be made from white knitted cotton pique with short sleeves and a buttoned placket like René Lacoste's shirts. Launched at Wimbledon in 1952, the Fred Perry tennis shirt was an immediate success.

The white tennis shirt was only supplemented in the late 50s when mods began demanding more varied colour palettes. The Fred Perry shirt became the garment-of-choice for diverse groups of teenagers throughout the 1960s and 70s, ranging from the skinheads to the Northern soul scene.

The brand's logo is a laurel wreath. It was based on the original symbol for Wimbledon. The logo, which appears on the left breast of a garment, is stitched into the fabric of the shirt.

The brand is now owned by a Japanese corporation. The brand was previously the clothing sponsor of British tennis player Andy Murray.



Fred Perry Way sign in the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport.

A bronze statue of Fred Perry was erected at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, London in 1984 to mark the 50th anniversary of his first singles championship. It is located at the Church Road gate.

Perry's home town of Stockport has numerous memorials to the former tennis champion. For instance there is a blue plaque commemorating the house where he was born. In September 2002, a designated walking route called the Fred Perry Way was opened through the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport. The 14 miles (23 km) route from Woodford in the south to Reddish in the north, combines rural footpaths, quiet lanes and river valleys with urban landscapes and parklands. Features along the route include Houldsworth Mill and Square, the start of the River Mersey at the confluence of the River Tame and River Goyt, Stockport Town Centre, Vernon and Woodbank Parks and the Happy Valley. The route also passes through Woodbank Park where Perry played some exhibition tennis matches.

In November 2010, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and John Perry, Fred Perry's grandson, opened Fred Perry House in Stockport. The building, which is the borough's new civic headquarters, will be used by various local government agencies.

A Blue Plaque at the house where Fred Perry was born in Stockport, Cheshire.

In June 2012 a blue plaque was unveiled on the house at 223 Pitshanger Lane, Ealing, where Perry lived between 1919 and 1935.


Perry was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island in 1975.

Perry received a Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa, from Washington and Lee University on June 4, 1987. He had coached the W&L tennis team in 1941 and again in 1947.

In the United States, two drives in El Paso, Texas and Los Angeles, and a street in Springfield, Tennessee, are named after Fred Perry.

World Table Tennis Championships

Gold:1; Silver 1; Bronze 4
  • 1928 Stockholm: Silver Doubles; Bronze Mixed Doubles; Bronze Team.
  • 1929 Budapest: Gold Singles; Bronze Doubles; Bronze Team.

Major finals

Grand Slam tournaments

Singles: 10 (8 titles, 2 runner-ups)

Outcome Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Winner 1933 U.S. Championships Grass Australia Jack Crawford 6–3, 11–13, 4–6, 6–0, 6–1
Winner 1934 Australian Championships Grass Australia Jack Crawford 6–3, 7–5, 6–1
Winner 1934 Wimbledon Championships Grass Australia Jack Crawford 6–3, 6–0, 7–5
Winner 1934 U.S. Championships (2) Grass United States Wilmer Allison 6–4, 6–3, 3–6, 1–6, 8–6
Runner-up 1935 Australian Championships Grass Australia Jack Crawford 6–2, 4–6, 4–6, 4–6
Winner 1935 French Championships Clay Germany Gottfried von Cramm 6–3, 3–6, 6–1, 6–3
Winner 1935 Wimbledon Championships (2) Grass Germany Gottfried von Cramm 6–2, 6–4, 6–4
Runner-up 1936 French Championships Clay Nazi Germany Gottfried von Cramm 0–6, 6–2, 2–6, 6–2, 0–6
Winner 1936 Wimbledon Championships (3) Grass Nazi Germany Gottfried von Cramm 6–1, 6–1, 6–0
Winner 1936 U.S. Championships (3) Grass United States Don Budge 2–6, 6–2, 8–6, 1–6, 10–8

Pro Slam tournaments

4 finals (2 titles, 2 runner-ups)

Outcome Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Winner 1938 US Pro Indoor United States Bruce Barnes 6–3, 6–2, 6–4
Runner-up 1939 US Pro Hard United States Ellsworth Vines 6–8, 8–6, 1–6, 18–20
Runner-up 1940 US Pro Clay United States Don Budge 3–6, 7–5, 4–6, 3–6
Winner 1941 US Pro Clay United States Dick Skeen 6–4, 6–8, 6–2, 6–3

Doubles: 4 (2 titles, 2 runner-ups)

Outcome Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Runner-up 1932 Wimbledon Championships Grass United Kingdom Pat Hughes France Jean Borotra
France Jacques Brugnon
6–0, 4–6, 3–6, 7–5, 7–5
Winner 1933 French Championships Clay United Kingdom Pat Hughes Australia Vivian McGrath
Australia Adrian Quist
6–2, 6–4, 2–6, 7–5
Winner 1934 Australian Championships Grass United Kingdom Pat Hughes Australia Adrian Quist
Australia Don Turnbull
6–8, 6–3, 6–4, 3–6, 6–3
Runner-up 1935 Australian Championships Grass United Kingdom Pat Hughes Australia Jack Crawford
Australia Vivian McGrath
6–4, 8–6, 6–2

Mixed doubles: 5 (4 titles, 1 runner-up)

Outcome Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Winner 1932 French Championships Clay United Kingdom Betty Nuthall United States Helen Wills Moody
United States Sidney Wood
6–4, 6–2
Winner 1932 U.S. Championships Grass United States Sarah Palfrey Cooke United States Helen Jacobs
United States Ellsworth Vines
6–3, 7–5
Runner-up 1933 French Championships Clay United Kingdom Betty Nuthall United Kingdom Margaret Scriven-Vivian
Australia Jack Crawford
2–6, 3–6
Winner 1935 Wimbledon Championships Grass United Kingdom Dorothy Round Little Australia Nell Hall Hopman
Australia Harry Hopman
7–5, 4–6, 6–2
Winner 1936 Wimbledon Championships Grass United Kingdom Dorothy Round Little United States Sarah Palfrey Cooke
United States Don Budge
7–9, 7–5, 6–4

Pro Slam Singles

  • US Pro Championships (1938, 1941)

Performance timeline

Fred Perry joined professional tennis in 1937 and was unable to compete in the Grand Slams tournaments.

Tournament Amateur career Professional career Titles / Played Career Win-Loss Career Win
'29 '30 '31 '32 '33 '34 '35 '36 '37 '38 '39 '40 '41 '42 '43 '44 '45 '46 '47 '48 '49 '50 '51 '52 '53 '54 '55
Grand Slam Tournaments: 8 / 22 101–15 87.07
Australian A A A A A W F A A A A A Not Held A A A A A A A A A A 1 / 2 9–1 90.00
French A A 4R QF QF QF W F A A A Not Held A A A A A A A A A A A 1 / 6 22–5 81.48
Wimbledon 3R 4R SF QF 2R W W W A A A Not Held A A A A A A A A A A 3 / 8 36–5 87.80
U.S. A 4R SF A W W SF W A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A 3 / 6 34–4 89.47
Pro Slam Tournaments: 2 / 9 19–7 73.08
French Pro N.H. A A A A A A A A A A Not Held 0 / 0 0–0 N/A
Wembley Pro Not Held A A A A A A Not Held A A QF QF A N.H. 0 / 2 2–2 50.00
U.S. Pro A A A A A A A A A W F F W A A N.H. A QF QF A A A A A A A QF 2 / 7 17–5 77.27
Total: 10 / 31 120–22 84.51
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