Anthony Frederick Wilding, known as Tony Wilding, was a New Zealand world No 1 tennis player and soldier who was killed in action during World War I Considered the world's first tennis superstar, Wilding was the son of wealthy English immigrants to Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand and enjoyed the use of private tennis courts at their home.
40 Facts About Anthony Wilding
Anthony Wilding obtained a legal education at Trinity College, Cambridge and briefly joined his father's law firm.
Anthony Wilding won 11 Grand Slam tournament titles, six in singles and five in doubles, and is the first and to date only player from New Zealand to have won a Grand Slam singles title.
Anthony Wilding won the Davis Cup four times playing for Australasia, and won a bronze medal at the indoor singles tennis event of the 1912 Olympics, which made him the first and to date only singles player from New Zealand to win an Olympic medal in tennis in the Summer Olympics and the only New Zealand player to win a medal in any tennis event until Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus won the bronze medal in the men's doubles competition at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo in July, 2021.
Anthony Wilding still holds several all time singles tennis records, namely 23 titles won in a single season and 114 career outdoor titles.
In 1978 Anthony Wilding was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Wilding was the second of five children of Frederick Wilding and Julia Anthony and was named after both parents.
Anthony Wilding's parents emigrated from Herefordshire, England to Christchurch, New Zealand after their marriage in 1879.
Anthony Wilding's father was a well-to-do lawyer in Christchurch who played tennis and won several doubles championships of New Zealand.
Anthony Wilding started playing tennis in 1889, at age six, after receiving a racquet from manufacturer Ralph Slazenger.
Anthony Wilding was first educated at William Wilson's private school for boys in Cranmer Square, where he was captain of the school football team at age 12.
Anthony Wilding passed his matriculation in 1901 after failing at his first attempt in 1900.
Anthony Wilding attended a term at the Canterbury University College for six months prior to departing on his seven-week sea voyage to England in July 1902 where he first stayed at a cramming school at Hunstanton before passing his entrance examination for Trinity College, Cambridge University to study law.
Anthony Wilding visited the 1903 Wimbledon Championships to see former champion Harold Mahony play.
In October 1901 at the age of 17 Anthony Wilding won his first singles title at the Canterbury Championships.
In July 1903, during his first summer vacation at Trinity College, Anthony Wilding entered his first English public tournament at Sheffield and Hallamshire.
Anthony Wilding made his first appearance at the Wimbledon Championships in June 1904, defeating Albert Prebble in the first round of the singles event before losing to Harold Mahony in four sets.
Anthony Wilding was pleased to take a set from the 1896 champion: "To my great delight I captured a set and made Mahony talk to himself a great deal".
Anthony Wilding won his first title in England at the Championships of Shropshire followed by a win at the Thompson Challenge Cup in Redhill; both relatively new and minor events on the tennis circuit.
Anthony Wilding's run at the 1906 Wimbledon Championships ended, as it had done the previous year, with a straight-sets defeat against the veteran Arthur Gore, this time in the semifinal.
At the 1907 Wimbledon Championships Anthony Wilding had the misfortune to be drawn in the same section as tournament favorite and eventual champion Norman Brookes who defeated him in their second-round match in five sets.
Reluctant to return to New Zealand to practise law, as he originally intended, Anthony Wilding instead decided to play a circuit of European tournaments.
Anthony Wilding won the 1908 Victorian Championships singles title after defeating Fred Alexander.
Anthony Wilding won his second Australasian Championships in 1909, with his remorseless drives proving too much for Ernie Parker to handle in the final.
Anthony Wilding was the last player to win four successive championships until 1979; when Bjorn Borg won his fourth successive championship.
Anthony Wilding attained the first of three No 1 rankings in 1911.
Anthony Wilding missed the 1908 Olympics in London because of an administrative error in which the Australasia Olympic committee forgot to officially nominate any tennis players, but at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm won a bronze medal in the men's indoor singles for Australasia.
In 1914 Anthony Wilding retained his World Hard Court Championship title in Paris without losing a single set, defeating Ludwig von Salm-Hoogstraeten in the final.
Anthony Wilding had entered the 1914 US Championships which followed later in August but withdrew due to the outbreak of World War I and returned to England.
Anthony Wilding played for the Canterbury cricket team in the early 1900s where he participated in two first-class matches as a lower middle-order batsman and medium-pace change bowler.
Anthony Wilding played rugby at Trinity College, mainly to keep fit during the winter months, and was part of the Trinity team that competed against Racing Club de France.
Anthony Wilding was a keen motorcycle rider with many long trips in Europe, New Zealand and America.
Anthony Wilding ventured into places with poor roads like Hungary and Serbia.
Anthony Wilding frequently used a motorcycle to travel between tennis tournaments on the European continent.
Shortly after the outbreak of World War I, Anthony Wilding joined the Royal Marines on advice of Winston Churchill who was then First Lord of the Admiralty.
Anthony Wilding was gazetted a second lieutenant in early October 1914.
Anthony Wilding remained in the Marines for just a few days and was then attached to the Intelligence Corps due to his intimate knowledge of the continent and his skills as a motorist.
Anthony Wilding was buried the next day at the front but was later re-interred at the Rue-des-Berceaux Military Cemetery in Richebourg-l'Avoue, Pas-de-Calais, France.
Anthony Wilding had been dating, and was rumored to be about to marry, Broadway star Maxine Elliott, 15 years his senior.
Anthony Wilding was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.