"Wow - his clay court prowess seems to be forgotten by all except a few on this forum. Given so many matches in 1914 - I wonder if that contributed to his lack lustre performance on Grass at Wimbledon that year. It sounds like he didn't do much to prepare for the tournament. Classic signs of being burnt out. Given the number of matches he played that year (7 tournaments in 7 weeks - and winning all the matches!) - it's not surprising."
Possibly, although Wilding benefited from the Challenge Round, i.e. he didn't have to play through in order to defend his title. Maybe that was a handicap for him in 1914? Here's how Arthur Wallis Myers saw things in his book "Captain Anthony Wilidng", first published in 1916:
"Several explanations have been offered for Anthony’s surprising defeat in the last match which he was destined to play on the centre court. Some of them were wide of the mark. It has been suggested, for example, that both men were at their best and that Brookes displayed a superiority of strategy and stroke which clearly entitled him to victory. Unquestionably the challenger played a masterly game with great skill and endurance. His triumph was thoroughly well deserved on the day’s play. But that is not the whole story. After his triumphs in 1913 [in this year he won all three world’s championships – on wood, grass and sand courts], when he may be said to have reached the zenith of his lawn tennis career, Anthony's absorbing interest in the game began to slacken. He had business trials, as we shall see presently, and there were influences at work which made him anxious to devote more time to the serious affairs of life.
"He did not train for the defence of his title in 1914 with so much zest or punctilio as he had shown in previous years. It may be that having twice defeated Brookes fairly decisively on the Riviera in the spring, he imagined that as much training was not necessary, and possibly his over-confidence, if it were over-confidence, was stimulated by the views of his friends. They predicted almost with one voice that he would win. Thus he came into court not so well equipped physically and mentally as he ought to have been, or as he probably would have been had the circumstances been different. There was a lack of agility, of verve, and of concentration about his game which showed that something was wrong. It may be that the amazing confidence of his opponent exercised some disintegrating effect on his own plan of campaign. I recollect how impressed he had been previously with Brookes’ mental attitude. 'Norman is perfectly sure,' he would say, 'both before and during a match that nothing but some dreadful catastrophe could ever cheat him of victory.'
"He took his defeat [Brookes won 6-4, 6-4, 7-5], as he took every defeat, with perfect composure, without a single sign of petulance. An old friend of mine, Mr. David Williamson, who was standing in the crowd behind the umpire’s chair when the players left the court, observed the following incident: 'An impulsive lady buttonholed Brookes and asked him to autograph his portrait. Brookes might well have declined, for he was pretty well spent. Wilding, overhearing the request, offered at once his back for Brookes to sign the picture. I thought it was a typically chivalrous act in the moment of what must have been bitter defeat.' Mr. Williamson also mentions that on the day of the match, when spectators standing in the queue outside Wimbledon found it excessively hot, Wilding arrived on his motor, and expressed his sorrow that he could not take them all into the ground then and there.
"Within ten minutes of the match – for there was no need for extended massage now – Anthony, smiling and at ease, might have been seen carrying a tea-tray, appropriated from the kitchen, over the crowded lawns to a party of friends. He did not utter a word of mortification or regret, though I very well know that his disappointment was keen. He took a rebuff as a rub of the green. I like to think that his last visit to Wimbledon – for he sailed for America a few days later – revealed him in the very best light – that of a perfect sportsman."
Last edited by newmark401; 05-26-2010 at 05:59 PM.