Fred Perry was born in 1909, in Stockport. Although he is famous for being one of the greatest tennis players of all time, it was table tennis that first gave him a taste of sporting success, when he won the world championships in 1929.
Fred quit table tennis soon after his victory and began to focus on his on-court prowess instead. His skills and strengths soon earned him recognition and he qualified for his first Wimbledon tournament in 1929.
In 1933, Fred won his first grand slam open in the USA, followed by three further grand slam victories in 1934 and more wins just a year later. In the space of four years, Fred won an impressive eight grand slams.
From 1933-36, Fred won Wimbledon three years running – a record that remains strong to this day. He was the last British player to win Wimbledon, holding the title for 77 years until Andy Murray’s victory in 2013.
Following Fred’s 1936 win, he went professional. Among his tennis victories, he was the first British player to win all four major open championships. He was ranked as the world’s number one player for four years. He won 10 majors and two pro slams, and he was the first player in history to complete his career grand slam at just 26 years of age. Fred also holds the record for winning 55 consecutive sets in the US Open, and 62 consecutive sets at Wimbledon.
Being from a working-class family proved a challenge for Fred as he tried to climb the ranks in tennis, which was often considered a sport for the upper classes. He never got the recognition from the British tennis establishment that he deserved, as he didn’t fit the mould of the stereotypical player. When he won his first Wimbledon in 1933, his wasn’t properly presented with the special tie.
However, a statue to honour his sporting achievements was finally erected outside Wimbledon, some 50 years later. Fred was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1975 and to this day, he is attributed for being one of the top legendary sports icons of all time.
Fred retired from professional tennis in 1952.
Media interest grew in Fred’s personal life and he was quite often romantically linked to actresses and models. He was briefly married three times, and then married for a fourth time to Barbara Riese, who remained his wife until his death in 1995.
Fred Perry has become as famous for his clothing range as he is for his tennis successes. His first foray into fashion was a tennis shirt that used a logo of a laurel wreath – to represent the original Wimbledon symbol. It was launched at Wimbledon in 1952.
His brand has continued to grow over the years and to this day, it is one of the most revered sports labels with both the young and old.