Sydney Wood’s memoirs in the recently released book “The Wimbledon Final that Never Was” chronicles the life and antics of the youngest Wimbledon Champion (aged 19 in 1931) until Boris Becker won at age 17 in 1985.
It’s a ‘must read’ for any tennis enthusiast, tournament player or historian.
The anecdotal adventures of a touring tennis champion, Sydney Wood, takes you through his touches of grace with some of the most celebrated characters of the first half of the 20th century. Chapters on Groucho Marx, Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper, The Shah of Iran and Fay Wray fill the entertainer appetite in a reader. Chapters on matches against Don Budge, Rene Lacoste, Frank Shields, Bill Tilden, Bobby Riggs and Fred Perry gets into the blood of the tennis historian.
Through Sydney’s words, one can sense a jet-set type lifestyle with high-spirited adventure, fun and access. Tennis allowed him to become involved with people most could only fantasize about. After all, how many people could say they had a date with Grace Kelly or had Errol Flynn as a doubles partner?
He goes through some match strategy that would keep the attention of world-class tennis strategists. He writes about weaknesses in some of the top players like Ellsworth Vines, who he beat by slicing into his body for most of the match - a strategy most club players could use. Sydney touches upon gambling on sticking to a strategy during a match, yet the gamesmanship always came with a respect for the game, which could not be breached in those days.
A compelling chapter for any competitor stands out. He analyzes the phenomenon of adrenaline during competition, which, as he puts it, ‘creates a trance-like dead calm’ which allowed him to reach a clear focus and hit near perfect series of shots. It took take him to victory in a match in Southampton Long Island.
Top-notch competitors from all walks of life will get a rush reading this 175-page book.
Sydney, who lived until 2009, touches on modern day players, the best shot-makers of all time and nearly every outstanding modern-day pro. He rates the top players of all time and doesn’t mince words about the likes of McEnroe, calling his antics ‘odorous court garbage.’
It would be a mistake for a tennis enthusiast to miss this rare insight from a man who lived tennis as a Wimbledon champion in 1931, Davis Cup player, a 22 year touring career and was part of the inside culture of professional tennis through his entire life.
The paperback came to fruition when Sydney’s son David collaborated with tennis enthusiast Randy Walker.
“The Wimbledon That Never Was” is published through New Chapter Press and is available at Amazon and other fine bookstores.